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

Ruzicka, ER 2016 , 'A political history of Tasmanian local government : seeking explanations for decline', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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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”) which have persisted over time in informing practice and the
reaction of people to challenges (“dilemmas”).
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.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Ruzicka, ER
Keywords: local government, Tasmania, interpretive theory, tradition, dilemma
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Copyright 2016 the author

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