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Emerging rural and regional policy considerations for Queensland: an overview paper

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Emerging rural and regional policy considerations for Queensland: an overview paper

07 May 2019

Executive Summary

Authors: Professor Hurriyet Babacan, Professor Allan Dale, The Cairns Institute, James Cook University


This discussion paper explores current and emerging rural/regional economic policy considerations for Queensland as part of a series of policy papers for the Rural Economies Centre of Excellence (RECoE).  Rural economic development is a complex process and the breadth of issues confronting policy makers, both contextual and conceptual, need consideration. This paper provides an initial exploratory analysis and overview of key issues in economic policy making of relevance to rural and regional areas, highlighting the key issues that have emerged from scholars and practitioners.  The purpose of the paper is to present the landscape of factors and issues relevant to policy making  and to enable effective conceptualization of rural/regional economic policy development within a larger contextual framework.  This exploratory paper will unpack key issues influencing rural/regional governance, policy formulation, adoption and implementation.

Some of the key policy-relevant themes of concern uncovered by the paper include:

  • Poor or inconsistent definitions being used to underpin policy making;
  • The need to reconsider the serious impact of shifting from Keynesian welfare models of policy to more neoliberal models without regarding important principles behind both models;
  • Shifting notions of regional/rural economic development policy, and the establishment of inconsistent and often quite disempowered regional decision making institutions; and
  • Consequent policy inconsistencies that emerge at times in regional areas.
  • This paper, through a broad overview of policy making for regional/rural Australia, has identified a number of keys research and consequently policy questions:
  • What role should/does government play in rural and regional development?
  • Is there are a tension in policy making between preserving and change management?
  • How can complexity (i.e. multi-scalar, multi-dimensional, cross sectoral, multiple stakeholder) be addressed when policy aims to bring order?
  • What is the evidence for what is best practice and innovation in policy development and implementation in rural/regional areas?
  • What are the policy instruments and tools available and what is the evidence of their efficacy?
  • What is the capacity/capabilities of regional institutions to lead policy development and implementation?
  • How can bottom up, placed based approaches be strengthened in policy making?
  • What governance arrangements need to change for effective devolution to rural/regional areas and the role of decentralization in policy making?
  • What regional institutional arrangements are effective for policy development and implementation, capturing diversity of regions?
  • What is the impact of policy making and delivery on improving the lives of people living in rural/regional areas?
  • How can policy making reflect the diverse cultural characteristics of regions?

Questions such as these are critical to the reframing and continued evolution of rural/regional policy making and implementation and will be the focus of future RECoE considerations.  The need for  place-based, adaptive and integrated rural/regional policies which are multi-dimensional, multi-scalar, cross institutional and diverse stakeholder engaged are being articulated strongly by scholars and practitioners .

Finally, this paper leads us to consider that good governance and effective policy making are recognised as important preconditions for regional growth and sustainability. The need for more strategic, coordinated and less fragmented policy design and intervention are critical as we rethink the future of rural/regional communities.

To read the full paper down load here: Emerging rural and regional policy considerations for Queensland