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The Howard Government and Regional Development

  • Year: 2008
  • Author: Collits, Paul
  • Journal Name: Australasian Journal of Regional Studies, The
  • Journal Number: Vol. 14, No. 3
  • Country: Australia

The demise of the Howard Coalition Government in Australia in late 2007 and the coming to power of a new Labor Government provides a timely opportunity to consider the fate of regional development under Howard and its prospects under the current administration. Much of the focus of debates over regional policy under Howard has been on the highly controversial Regional Partnerships Program, which was said by many to have (further) politicised regional policy. There is a need for a much broader and more comprehensive analysis of the period in question. The paper seeks to provide - or at least to commence - such an analysis, and to uncover both the key policy trends and the reasons for them. It argues that the principal development in regional policy was to further embed 'localism' as the preferred approach, and that this was broadly in line with developments in the States and Territories and overseas. The Howard Government's approach begs the questions whether this reliance on 'local solutions to local problems' is the best way of doing regional policy, and what it means for regional development. The paper makes some tentative suggestions for better regional governance in the light of the experience of the Howard Government.

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