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Type: Thesis
Title: Challenges for Integrated Coastal Management in the Australian Federation: Understanding Intergovernmental Tension: A Case Study of South Australia
Author: Pelton, Nicole Sheree
Issue Date: 2016
School/Discipline: School of Social Sciences : Geography, Environment and Population
Abstract: Prudent management of the coastal zone is of major importance given that competition for coastal resource use is being intensified by increasing population pressure and the impending impacts of climate change. Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) is internationally regarded as the best-practice approach for the planning and management of coastal resource use. ICM espouses effective integration between governing bodies. However, numerous Australian government inquiries and academic literature on coastal zone management have concluded that ICM has been difficult to implement in Australia, with intergovernmental integration particularly elusive. Whilst Australia’s federal system of government has been implicated in this, studies have not explicitly addressed the nature of the relationship between Australian federalism and intergovernmental integration between the local, state and federal spheres. Thus, the aim of this study was to generate a theory as to why ICM, particularly intergovernmental integration, has been so difficult to implement in Australia. The study, employing elements of grounded theory and comparative case study methodology, was designed to explore the relationship between federalism and intergovernmental integration based on the experiences of coastal managers and decision-makers responsible for coastal management ‘on-the-ground’. Three natural resource management (NRM) case study regions in South Australia were selected: Eyre Peninsula, South East, and Adelaide & Mount Lofty Ranges. The nature of Australia’s federal system of government and the functions and capacity of the three spheres – local, state and federal – were also explored via literature review and document analysis. Primary data collection was accomplished via thirty three in-depth, semi-structured interviews with local government staff and elected representatives, NRM Board staff and SA government ‘Department for Environment’ staff with responsibilities for coastal management and/or decision-making. Interview questions revolved around interviewees’ perceptions of the roles and responsibilities of each sphere of government; financial arrangements for funding coastal management; and the level of intergovernmental integration. Constant comparative analysis elicited themes from interview transcripts. Triangulation of interview data with secondary data obtained via literature review and document analysis verified interview data and scaffolded theory development. Two prominent themes emerged from the analysis of participants’ perceptions regarding the roles and responsibilities of the three spheres of government: disempowerment and intergovernmental tension. Synthesis of interview data with secondary data revealed two fundamental issues underpinning these themes at both the local and state level: 1) asymmetries in responsibility relative to capacity and 2) a lack of autonomy. Understanding of these issues was enhanced by examining the evolving role of the federal government within the Australian federation, whereby Australia’s practice of fiscal federalism has resulted in fiscal centralisation characterised by a large vertical fiscal imbalance between the federal and state spheres and a comparative lack of fiscal autonomy at the state government level. Fiscal centralisation poses a significant barrier to the operation of effective cooperative federalism in Australia. Thus, this thesis theorises that fiscal centralisation is a significant barrier to meaningful integration between the spheres of government involved in coastal management in Australia.
Advisor: Harvey, Nick
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Social Sciences, 2017
Keywords: Integrated coastal management
coastal management
vertical fiscal imbalance
intergovernmental relations
environmental policy
fiscal federalism
Provenance: This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at:
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