Localism and the socio-economic viability of rural and regional Australia

Hogan, Anthony, Cleary, Jen, Lockie, Stewart, Young, Michelle, Daniell, Katherine, and Hickman, Mark (2012) Localism and the socio-economic viability of rural and regional Australia. In: Collection of Papers presented at the Sustaining Rural Communities Conference 2012. pp. 6-22. From: Sustaining Rural Communities Conference 2012, 18-19 April 2012, Narrabri, NSW, Australia.

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Like in many western countries, the economic importance of Australia's agriculture has declined over the past 50 years, with subsequent impacts on the viability of rural and regional communities. In Australia (and elsewhere), localism has been proposed as a strategy to promote self-sufficient socio-economically viable communities. This paper examines the utility of localism as a policy strategy for addressing the socio-economic viability of communities in rural Australia. In current Australian policy, localism is premised on developing partnerships between local industry and communities in order to unleash the economic potential of these areas. The paper provides an overview of how localism will be implemented in Australia, noting many of the challenges which it will face. Such challenges include Australia's distinct environmental, spatial and demographic settings which differ greatly from Europe, where this form of policy originated. The localism policy provides a framework within which Australia may progress through a necessary transition of rethinking the socio-economic basis which will underpin rural and regional settlements. However, localism is not without its limitations (e.g. regulatory dumping, responsibility shifting, under resourcing, centralised disempowering decision making) which are reviewed before examining the extent to which the proposed infrastructure to support the implementation of localism in Australia is adequate for the task. The proposed level of funding required to make localism effective, as well as the decision making structures put in place, seriously limits the capacity of this policy to be successful. The paper concludes with a consideration of how localism might be usefully progressed in Australia, and the governance arrangements which would be needed to deliver on its proposed outcomes. To this end, the merits of developing a multi-level governance approach for Rural and Regional Australia are discussed.

Item ID: 30956
Item Type: Conference Item (Research - E1)
Keywords: policy, localism, rural, communities, social and economic development
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Date Deposited: 13 Aug 2014 05:48
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160801 Applied Sociology, Program Evaluation and Social Impact Assessment @ 50%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160804 Rural Sociology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960705 Rural Land Policy @ 100%
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