Dr Deborah Peterson

Senior Associate
PhD, MSc (Cornell.), BBS (Hons) (Massey), GAICD


Agriculture & Earth Resources, Environment & Climate Change, Public Policy, Water


Policy design, Policy evaluation & reform, Governance & institutions, Market design, Market performance & evaluation, Strategy performance evaluation & reform, Investment appraisal & business cases

Deborah is widely recognised as one of Australia’s pre-eminent applied economists and thought-leaders specialising in the agriculture, resources and environment sectors. Get in touch with Deborah to discuss policy and strategy design and evaluation, program evaluation, business case development, regulatory reform and governance reviews.

With more than 30 years of public sector senior executive experience, including senior advisory roles with international, state and federal government agencies, boards and committees, Deborah is passionate about evidence-based reform that leads to better public outcomes.

Deborah’s expertise and experience includes:

  • Policy and strategy development and evaluation. Deborah has held senior positions in State and Australian Government agencies, advising ministers and cabinet committees. As Deputy Secretary heading the Policy and Strategy Group of the former Victorian Department of Primary Industries, Deborah led the development, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of policies and strategies across the Department. Deborah’s expertise in policy analysis also stems from her roles as Assistant Commissioner at the Productivity Commission and Assistant Secretary at the former Bureau of Industry Economics and Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
  • Regulatory agency leadership and regulatory reviews. Deborah led the Regulation and Compliance Group in the former Victorian Department of Primary Industries and was responsible for oversight of several State regulatory agencies including (what was) Biosecurity Victoria, Fisheries Victoria, and the Earth Resources regulator. She has undertaken numerous reviews of regulation and governance arrangements in her consulting roles and while at the Productivity Commission.
  • Leading public inquiries, reviews, expert panels and taskforces. Deborah was appointed to the Australian Government’s independent review panel to assess social and economic conditions in rural and regional communities across the Murray-Darling Basin. Deborah also chaired an independent expert panel reviewing the Victorian Wildlife Act 1975. Other examples include appointment as an Advisor to the Expert Panel on the NSW Off-Farm Water Efficiency Program, providing independent assessments of the socio-economic impacts of funding applications to upgrade water infrastructure, reduce water losses and increase water available for the environment. She was also a member of the expert panel assisting with socioeconomic aspects of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s 2020 evaluation. 
  • Socio-economic analysis and rural adjustment. As a Visiting Fellow at the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University and in other roles, Deborah has researched and advised on many aspects of economic, social and environmental policy, particularly in relation to water futures and the Murray-Darling Basin as well as rural and regional development. 
  • Cross-jurisdictional and cross-sectoral comparisons. Much can be gained from comparing how policies and strategies have been rolled out in other areas. Selecting the best set of comparators and carefully taking into account special circumstances are critical skills to enable conclusions to be drawn and recommendations made. Deborah has decades of experience in undertaking such valuable work.
  • Stakeholder consultation. Through experience leading and managing public inquiries and reviews, Deborah has developed expertise in a range of stakeholder consultation approaches and places high personal value on ensuring all voices have an opportunity to be heard. Techniques range from less formal one-on-one or small group meetings to larger, structured roundtables and ‘town hall’ style meetings, surveys and focus groups.

Deborah holds a PhD and a Master of Science (agriculture and resource economics) from Cornell University (USA) and a Bachelor of Business Studies with First Class Honours from Massey University (New Zealand). She is a Victorian Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia, a Distinguished Fellow and past President of the Australasian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society (AARES), and a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. She has been a Member of Council of Victoria University, a Visiting Scholar at Harvard and Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University and has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals.

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