In most states of Australia, agricultural extension policies and practices have increasingly been based on considerations of private/public goods, user pays and cost recovery. In addition, the delivery of extension has been strongly influenced by changing administrative structures and a change in the paradigm within which the extension community operates. These changes have had major impacts, including more extension being delivered by the private sector. There are positive aspects to the changes and, for some issues, they are appropriate. However, we have a number of reservations, particularly about the effectiveness of current extension systems in assisting the adoption of complex environmental and farming system technologies.