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Latest issue of the Australasian Journal of Regional Studies

Editors’ notes

This introduces Volume 27 Issue 3.

Michael Hefferan & Bruce Wilson.

Page Number - 283

GROWTH DYNAMICS AND MUNICIPAL POPULATION CHANGE IN AUSTRALIA, 1911 2016

In Australia empirical analyses of municipal populations are
uncommon given its cities are usually conceived of as metropolitan areas.
Widespread usage of metropolitan statistics is practical; however municipal
perspectives engage with the machinery of government an d can reveal
complementary insights about cities as institutions. To develop such insights, this
study utilised a statistical model of Australian municipal populations to examine
the drivers of growth from 1911 to 2016. Statistically significant long ter m
positive relationships we re identified between population and location specific
features such as being coastal, eastern, and near to a seaport or state parliament.
The constant and strong involvement of political factors is noteworthy given they
are les s recognised drivers of settlement. The findings of this paper, which partly
elucidate drivers of population growth in Australia, have major implications for
the federal government’s plan to steer anticipated high population growth into
regional centres.

George Wilkinson, Fiona Haslam McKenzie & Julian Bolleter

Page Number - 285

REGIONAL POLICY IN AUSTRALIA: CAN SMART SPECIALISATION DELIVER VIBRANT AND PROSPEROUS REGIONAL AUSTRALIAN COMMUNITIES?

Regional policy in Australia is fragmented, incoherent, and reactive. With responsibility sitting uneasily across Federal, State, and local governments, there is evidence of both duplication in responsibilities and significant gaps in the policy frameworks affecting country Australia. Over the past forty years, this has been exacerbated by the public policy which has focused on reducing costs and introducing markets to various aspects of public service provision across Australia, with lasting, negative effects on country communities. This article reviews the multiple challenges facing public regional policy in Australia and considers those challenges in light of international experience and policy development – particularly that led by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the subsequent development of ‘Smart Specialisation Strategies’ (S3) policy in the European Union (EU). This analysis suggests that over the last ten years, policy initiatives in the EU in particular have demonstrated the value of taking a more deliberate approach to regional policy. This observation has been tested in Australia through policy experimentation with S3 in Gippsland in southeast Victoria. This case study suggests that the implementation of S3 might have a transformational effect in country Australia, but that S3 alone would not be enough to deliver vibrant and prosperous regional communities. In line with the gradual evolution of ‘S3’ in Europe to ‘S4’ – Smart Specialisation Strategies for Sustainability - there needs to be a more comprehensive framing of the relationship between city and country Australia, and a new social contract. In the context of the social and environmental challenges identified by country Australians themselves, socio-ecological innovation has emerged as a distinct imperative for this policy experimentation in the Australian context.

Chloe Ward, Emma Shortis, Bruce Wilson & Anthony Hogan

Page Number - 306

LOCAL EMERGENCY CO-PRODUCTION IN AUSTRALIA: THE CASE OF THE NEW SOUTH WALES RURAL FIRE SERVICE

Given the vast spatial area and low population density involved, together with the prevalence, frequency, and severity of bushfires, firefighting services in non-metropolitan areas of Australia have always depended heavily on the contribution of volunteer firefighters. Australian volunteer firefighting services represent an unusually high degree of collaboration between local volunteers and state and local governments. In this paper, we examine the nature and operation of the New South Wales (NSW) Rural Fire Service (RFS) through the analytical lens of the local co-production paradigm, to date a dimension of Australian volunteer firefighting that has remained largely unexplored in the scholarly literature. In particular, we examine the comparative advantages that the NSW RFS garners from its unique combination of government funding, professional staff, and volunteer firefighters. The paper concludes by considering the public policy implications of the analysis.

Andrea Wallace & Brian Dollery

Page Number - 331

ASSESSING THE LABOUR MARKET RESPONSE DUE TO COVID-19 BORDER RESTRICTIONS: A CASE STUDY OF CANTERBURY, NEW ZEALAND

Labour markets respond to supply and demand changes caused by external shocks, including pandemics. In 2020 and 2021, the Coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused a sudden reduction in labour demand in certain industries globally. As economies emerge into the post COVID-19 reality, a return of patterns caused by ongoing structural pressures return. In Canterbury, a region centred on Christchurch in New Zealand, these include migration demand pressures. This paper uses data from the Canterbury region, which is no stranger to disasters, as a case study. Two models are developed to estimate the future workforce requirements during the recovery period. A population growth model is utilised to test the regional labour market's limits, while an economic model estimates the required jobs for the regional economy. The paper finds that the lower economic activity resulting from COVID-19 has reduced the near-term employment demand. At the same time, labour force transition coupled with strict border controls reveals the need for labour force participation to adjust during the extended recovery period. Although short-term demand for skilled migration remains lower, those leaving the workforce will require replacing.

David Dyason, Peter Fieger & John Rice

Page Number - 354

DO STATE BORDERS EFFECT COMMUTING FLOWS – A CASE STUDY OF THE QUEENSLAND AND NEW SOUTH WALES BORDER ALONG THE TWEED RIVER

This paper explores the impact of State borders on commuting flows. Barriers exist when the commuting frequency at a cross-border link is below the expected level given other characteristics, such as origin and destination size and distance. Work here applies spatial interaction modelling techniques to census 2016 Journey to Work data for the SA2s of the Richmond-Tweed region of New South Wales and the Gold Coast region of Queensland. The study is particularly relevant, with border closures the instrument of choice of State leaders hoping to restrict the spread of Corona Virus Disease-2019. The analysis uncovers evidence of barriers to cross border commutes using 2016 data. This finding is surprising, given that Australian States and Territories share the same language and culture, along with a constitution prohibiting trade barriers between the states.

Bernard Trendle

Page Number - 376

HOW DO POLICYMAKERS DEAL WITH CLIMATE CHANGE? - THE CASE STUDY OF THE MALDIVES

The Maldives lies in two rows of atolls in the Indian Ocean, just across the equator. It has a history of monarchical political systems built on undemocratic constitutional rules that have evolved over eight centuries (1153-1953) of recorded history. It established its first-ever democratic constitution in 2008. For politicians and environmentalists around the world, the Maldives is perhaps better known as islands drowning with the rising sea levels as a result of global warming. Since climate change is a cross-cutting development issue and affects every aspect of the Maldivian way of life and livelihoods, the Maldivian government attempted to address vulnerable sectors and defined several strategies that could prevent the country from the negative effects of climate change and sea level rise. In order to reach the mentioned goal, considering stakeholders’ interaction is a key strategy in research and policy-making on climate change adaptation. Stakeholders are variously characterized as authorities, evaluators, watchdogs, local communities, etc. The government as a stakeholder and especially the president of the republic as the head of state who has a major role in decision-making on climate change will be considered in this article.

Afshin Abolhasani

Page Number - 398