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Abstract

The efficiency and equity effects of economic policies affecting the quarter of Australians who live in rural and regional Australia (RARA) are reviewed. For the most part it is argued that economy-wide policies, rather than region or industry specific policies, are appropriate. Progressive income taxation, means-tested social security payments and government funded education, health and other services directly and efficiently redistribute to support equity. Subsidies for particular industries in RARA, such as dairy, and input subsidies targeted at RARA, such as community service obligations, misallocate resources and are ineffective in meeting equity goals. Better property rights and procedures for allocating most natural resources, especially water, are necessary.

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