Ecological Governance and the Development Plan for Northern Australia
Australian Environment Review, May 2017
6 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2017 Last revised: 13 Jun 2017
Date Written: February 21, 2017
A number of major policy documents and academic research have informed a renewed push in recent years to develop northern Australia, which comprises all of the Northern Territory and those parts of Western Australia and Queensland above the Tropic of Capricorn (the ‘north’). Recent debate has culminated in the Commonwealth Government’s 2015 White Paper on Developing Northern Australia (‘White Paper’). The White Paper aims to “grasp [the north’s] full potential” to make it “an economic powerhouse within our great country.” The White Paper is conspicuously silent, however, on how to secure the north’s ecological future to cope with and sustainably support this development. This article explores some of the ecological governance deficiencies in the development plan set out in the White Paper. It opens by identifying some of the White Paper’s assumptions about the north’s environment and culture, followed by a brief analysis of regulatory gaps in the model of development it advocates. It then briefly considers the past, present and future of ecological governance and regulation in the north. We conclude that in order to avoid repeating the failures of previous development plans for the north, reforms should emphasise a strategic, ecologically-focused governance framework in the north, for the north, with input from all interested parties. This framework, which involves the system for decision-making, must effectively deal with the unique characteristics and inherent dynamism of northern ecosystems and address complex interactions between nature, borders, culture and sovereignty.
Keywords: Economic Development, Ecological Governance, Australia
JEL Classification: K32, K20, O10, O20, O56
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation