The role of policy in the creation and perpetuation of environmental injustice: two case studies in an Australian regional city

Dumont, Elizabeth Lillian (2013) The role of policy in the creation and perpetuation of environmental injustice: two case studies in an Australian regional city. Masters (Research) thesis, James Cook University.

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Abstract

Environmental injustice is a matter of concern in the western world. However, there has been minimal exploration of environmental injustice outside of the U.S, with all existing non- U.S. based literature sparse and narrowly defined, relating to either the export of environmental risk, economic domination of first nations' peoples or third world countries resources. Two case studies, within a medium sized regional city, were conducted to both ascertain the existence of environmental injustice in Australia, and identify the causative mechanisms. Cases were examined within an overall framework of environmental justice theory, with discussion underpinned by a rational choice theory analytical approach. Census data for the SLAs of Garbutt and Stuart shows relatively high percentages of Indigenous residents and relatively low levels of household and family income living in close proximity to two Locally Undesirable Land Use developments – Townsville Airport (Garbutt) and Stuart Creek Correctional Centre (Stuart) during 1996 - 2006. Accordingly, the requisite conditions exist that allow for a determination of environmental injustice in a regional city in Australia. Additional qualitative research uncovered the social, political and economic factors and policies that created environmental injustice.

The qualitative data shows that environmental injustice in a regional city in Australia is associated with the existence of wider social injustices. The environmental injustice found to exist arose over time due to an unintended interplay between a least cost approach to siting both LULU's and homes, and social/political factors. Social/political factors identified during this research as being part of the causative process of environmental injustice were a pro-development/growth stance by government and the people, as shown in public (and popular) demand for and lack of resistance to development of the LULU's studied; personal preferences in housing locational choice, as reflected in decisions about the others whom people live amongst and mix with regularly; and links between education and income level. The latter is important, as cost is an important, but secondary or tertiary, not the primary, factor in housing locational choice. A strong positive correlation ((r(24)=0.824, p<0.001) existed between race levels and the presence of accommodation containing elements and levels of limited choice in all SLAs within the regional city, including both Garbutt and Stuart. This correlation underscores the strong links between the existence of social inequities and inequality and environmental injustice.

The existence of these multiple causative factors requires a broad based policy response to alleviate, if not eliminate, environmental injustice. Governments, and the people they govern, need to look to science to devise non-environmentally hazardous methods of achieving the same goals, spreading the burden of environmental harms into wealthier areas via fair siting protocols, as well as the creation of buffer zones around the LULU and use of technology to reduce the level of environmental hazards residents are exposed to. Due to the links between environmental and social injustices, LULU developers should pay compensation to affected residential areas, with the compensation to take the form of actions designed to alleviate the social inequities and inequality that lead to environmental injustice. Policy makers also need to fully consider the ramifications of policy on the marginalised and vulnerable. Adoption of the proposed Policy Makers Manifesto will assist in achieving this response.

Item ID: 33656
Item Type: Thesis (Masters (Research))
Keywords: environmental injustice; Garbutt (Qld); public policy; regional Australia; social inequality; social injustice; Stuart (Qld); Townsville
Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2014 00:41
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1605 Policy and Administration > 160512 Social Policy @ 33%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1605 Policy and Administration > 160505 Economic Development Policy @ 33%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160810 Urban Sociology and Community Studies @ 34%
SEO Codes: 94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9401 Community Service (excl. Work) > 940102 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Development and Welfare @ 34%
94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9401 Community Service (excl. Work) > 940116 Social Class and Inequalities @ 33%
94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9402 Government and Politics > 940299 Government and Politics not elsewhere classified @ 33%
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