New Scholar studying legal rights to River Murray

New Fulbright Scholar Adam Webster. Photo courtesy of Fulbright Commission

New Fulbright Scholar Adam Webster. Photo courtesy of Fulbright Commission
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Thursday, 15 March 2012

University of Adelaide PhD researcher Adam Webster has won a 2012 Fulbright Scholarship to research possible legal solutions to the dispute over the allocation of water from the River Murray.

The prestigious Fulbright Scholarship is the largest educational scholarship of its kind, created in 1946 to promote mutual understanding with the United States through educational exchange.

Adam will use his Fulbright Scholarship to examine the outcomes of interstate water allocation disputes in the US to see whether the legal solutions developed there could help with the resolution of similar disputes in Australia.

"In particular, my research examines the dispute between the states of Australia over the allocation of water from the River Murray," Adam said.

"The issue of interstate water rights in Australia is an area of law that has received very little academic attention. Given that in recent years the states have had difficulty in reaching political agreement on how best to solve the problems associated with a shortage of water in the River Murray it is likely that these legal issues will receive greater attention in the future."

Under his Fulbright Scholarship, Adam will spend his time in the United States at the University of Arizona and the University of Colorado where he will examine the history of interstate disputes in the US regarding rights to water from rivers that flow through more than one state.

"In the US, courts have recognised the existence of an interstate water right. The question of whether there exists an interstate water right in Australia has never been put before a court," Adam said.

"The dispute over water from the River Murray is a uniquely Australian problem but there are many similarities between Australia and the United States which make for an ideal comparative study: both countries, for instance, have federal systems of government and in both countries water is at a premium in arid zones."

University of Adelaide Dean of Law Professor John Williams said: "The Adelaide Law School is thrilled with the award of the prestigious Fulbright scholarship to Adam Webster. The complex legal issues surrounding the rights that the Australian States and their people have to the water of interstate rivers needs careful research. Adam Webster is a gifted young legal academic and will make a significant contribution to Australian scholarship."

Adam graduated with Honours degrees in Civil Engineering (2003) and Law (2006) from the University of Adelaide. He also has a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the Law Society of South Australia. He has won various awards and prizes including the Zelling-Gray Postgraduate Scholarship in Law.

Two other University of Adelaide graduates also won Fulbright Scholarships this year - Dr Stephanie Reuter Lange (Bachelor of Science) and Dr Richard Collins (BSc in Geology and PhD in Environmental Science). The three University of Adelaide graduates are among 25 talented Australians winning a Fulbright Scholarship in 2012.


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