Commerce and public water policy: the case of Hobart Town Van Diemen's Land 1804-1881

John F. Bourke, Rosemary Lucadou-Wells

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This paper explores business and commercial imperatives in the development of public water policy in a nineteenth century penal colony. The specific focus is the public water supply in Hobart Town, Van Diemen’s Land. The time frame is from 1804 to 1881, with most attention to the decades of the 1830’s and 1840’s.The paper considers how the public water supply in Hobart Town impacted upon the daily lives of the town’s citizens, commerce and health. The shocking public water supply and poor sanitation in Hobart Town ultimately gave rise to an energy and vigour that propelled a public policy where a pure and abundant water supply for all was seen as a non-derogable value. The value of water is emphasized now at the beginning of the twenty-first century with the United Nations General Assembly’s proclamation of the International Decade for the Valuing of Water on March 22nd 2005. This paper argues that a look back in time can energise contemporary business to boldly forge appropriate water initiatives for what is a crucial environmental world moment. While this case study uncovers an unacceptable scenario of entrepreneurial activity, twenty-first century business and commerce, with an understanding of ethics and intergenerational equity, can propel powerful initiatives for change to improve the lot of all.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)22-44
    Number of pages23
    JournalInternational review of business research papers
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2006


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