University Of Tasmania
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A political history of Tasmanian local government : seeking explanations for decline

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posted on 2023-05-27, 10:13 authored by Ruzicka, ER
Reforming local government in Tasmania has a varied history of success since its introduction in the early nineteenth century. Failures to meet State government desired economic, environmental and social policy changes have created poor perceptions of local government capacity and generated continual demands for institutional reform such as amalgamation. Large scale boundary reforms have a varied history of resistance and success with explanations for this focused on institutional responses. This thesis reverses the policy gaze by looking at the ideas and beliefs that people bring to their local government practice. Drawing on the body of interpretive theory work of Bevir and Rhodes, a qualitative approach looks for evidence of ideas and beliefs that have persisted over time and which people bring to local government practice. It analyses historical and policy materials to derive sets of beliefs and ideas (as traditions‚ÄövÑvp) which have persisted over time in informing practice and the reaction of people to challenges (dilemmas‚ÄövÑvp). Three traditions (localism, voluntarism, representation) are proposed from English local government practice over its long history. Analysis of historical and policy materials since colonisation concludes the ideas and beliefs people bought to Tasmania were largely located in the period prior to the second English 19th century period of municipal reform. Tasmania's geography and its social and economic (largely agricultural) history contributed to the longevity of pre-secondary period English traditions and practices. Some ideas and beliefs are persistent today however others are now in decline at varying rates across existing municipal areas. By providing a groundbreaking understanding and analysis of Tasmania's local government this thesis argues the need for understanding the ideas and beliefs that still drive local government practice today in any reform process. It provides fertile ground for further research using this approach.


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