Accepted paper:

The end of local governance: a regional Australian example


Christopher Speldewinde (Deakin University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper considers the impact of QUANGOs upon local governance models in the regional Australian context. It will use current fieldwork and theories of James Scott and David Mosse to argue that Australian local formal governance is declining due to the influence of regionally based QUANGOs.

Paper long abstract:

Since its Federation in 1901, the Australian nation has experienced government through a three-tiered system structured around the implementation of national, state and local-based policy. Each level within this governance model aims to act independently yet remains reliant upon the other to function successfully. Beneath this governance structure exist a growing number of lobby groups and quasi non-government organisations (QUANGOs) seeking to influence governance at all levels of the Australian state. One such QUANGO is the Geelong Region Alliance (G21), based in the south eastern corner of Australia and incorporating Geelong City and neighbouring regional shires. G21 performs a variety of local functions and takes a multi-faceted approach to regional development. My paper addresses an element of my current doctoral thesis research that examines the role of QUANGOs and the evolving state of local governance in Australia. Its particular focus is upon the Geelong region and G21. I will consider James Scott's work Seeing Like a State (1998) to provide the critical background of this paper through its critique of state bureaucracy and subsequent popularity with various advocates of new hybrid state/corporate forms. Additionally arguments in development theory formed by theorist David Mosse regarding 'collaborative governance' (Zadek) will be considered. These theories and ethnographic fieldwork will be drawn together to argue that local formal governance in the Australian context is declining due to the existence of QUANGOs.

panel PE04
Enquiring into the urban form through governing practices and social organisation (IUAES Commission on Urban Anthropology )