Volume 22 Issue 2 published August 2016
NOTES FROM THE EDITORS
This edition of the journal again highlights the diversity of regional science and the disciplines and sub-disciplines that make up that entire body of research.
MIKE HEFFERAN AND BRUCE WILSON
Page Number - 204
THE EMPOWERMENT OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA’S TRIBESPEOPLE: OVERCOMING THE CHALLENGES OF FOREIGN INVESTMENT PROJECTS
Papua New Guinea (PNG), in the early stages of economic development, embraces foreign investment focusing on natural resource extraction. With the majority of land ownership vested in the numerous indigenous tribes, disputes often arise between tribespeople, the government and foreign enterprises over the way in which resources are accessed. This article reviews the impact of deforestation and mining on PNG tribespeople. It illustrates that, while there are many obstacles to overcome, gradual empowerment of the people is evident in many cases as they challenge the way foreign investment projects are implemented. Understanding the impact of foreign investment and the dire situations local people experience as a result, especially when government priority is given to economic development, is vital to informing the need and processes for change.
PATRICIA BLAZEY AND STEPHANIE PERKISS
Page Number - 206
FOSTERING SHARED SERVICES IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT: A COMMON SERVICE MODEL
Structural reform of local government through forced municipal mergers has occurred in a number of countries, including Australia, with mixed success. We argue that shared services arrangements by groups of voluntarily participating councils represent a superior means of securing the advantages of scale and scope in local government, without the heavy costs of the blunt instrument of compulsory council consolidation. However, in practice, the success of shared services has been inhibited in small regional, rural and remote local authorities by the costs of establishing and running shared service entities, which can swamp any savings from shared services. Taking into account the special characteristics of small non-metropolitan councils, we present a Common Service Model tailored to minimise establishment and transactions costs, maximise flexibility, and generate transparency.
BRIAN DOLLERY, MICHAEL A. KORTT AND JOSEPH DREW
Page Number - 225
REFORMING AUSTRALIA’S FISCAL FEDERALISM: SHOULD MUNICIPAL BOND BANKS PLAY A GREATER ROLE?
The theoretical benefits of decentralisation (political, administrative, and fiscal, for example) have been the subject of debate across a range of polities and supra-national political economies for several decades. However, the question of how finance might best follow function – and the attendant oversight of this process – is less resolved. Against the backdrop of mooted reforms to the Australian federation that may well have an impact upon the design of and scope for local and regional governance arrangements, this paper provides an account of the formation and functioning of the Local Government Finance Authority of South Australia (LGFA) the New Zealand Local Government Funding Agency (NZLGFA) and the Municipal Finance Authority of British Colombia (MFABC). The case studies suggest that own-source sub-national finance can be augmented through the use of such instruments. The broader introduction of such financial instruments is also considered.
BLIGH GRANT AND RONALD WOODS
Page Number - 243
PERCEPTIONS OF OLDER AGE AND DIGITAL PARTICIPATION IN RURAL QUEENSLAND
Participation is thought to build and sustain individual and community resilience. What constitutes participation today significantly involves networked digital communications. With Australia’s ageing population set to increase exponentially, and with a growing concentration of older people living outside of larger cities and towns, a need exists to address how participation in later life is understood and facilitated. Coupled with the need for regional communities to find relevant change processes that build resilience, this multidisciplinary paper highlights variations in perception about older people’s digital abilities in regional Queensland. Following the general increase in appeal of digital devices to older people, defined here as those aged over 65, the paper suggests that how older people’s digital connectedness progresses is foundationally influenced by the speculative, antithetical and potentially ambivalent perceptions of others. In doing so, we seek to understand rural connectedness in later life through a suite of literacies informing digital participation.
LISA McDONALD, ANN STARASTS, SANJIB TIWARI AND MICHAEL LANE
Page Number - 263
PROPERTY VALUES AND REGIONAL ECONOMIC VITALITY: VALUATION METHODS AS AN INDICATOR OF PROPERTY MARKET BEHAVIOUR
Excessive property values contribute a depressing effect on regional economies. Excessive prices are those that are significantly out of alignment with underlying economic value, understood as either utility or contribution to productive activity. Identification of excessive values is difficult in an environment where market price and underlying economic value have been conflated into the term ‘market value’. Sustainable management of urban and regional economic issues requires the identification of these misalignments and the pursuit of policies aimed at encouraging their correction. Property valuers are specifically trained in the estimation of price and value, where price is the sum the property will transact for in the near future, and value is the economically sustainable price. Markets that have developed price structures above value are unsustainable. Property valuers are well placed for identifying unsustainable price trends. Moreover, the methods adopted by property valuers to forecast market prices themselves are signals of changes in community attitudes to property. This paper employs a critical literature review and observations to examine emerging approaches to valuation practice to inform an understanding of community attitudes to real estate and its value. From this, observations will be made regarding dysfunctional attitudes that are at least contributing factors to a range of local economic and social problems. Finally, policy implications will be suggested. This study found that recent changes in both urban and regional property valuation suggest that communities have changed their perception of property in a way that is susceptible to the formation of unsustainable price bubbles. Valuers have increased their use of income approaches in response to the belief that buyers have become more likely to buy property for its income and growth potential rather than its utility in use. This would not be problematic if growth expectations were sustainable, however, there appears good reason to believe that future property growth will not follow the strong trends of the past.
GARRICK SMALL, MICHAEL VAIL AND DELWAR AKBAR
Page Number - 285
ASSESSING THE SIGNIFICANCE OF INTERNAL MIGRATION IN DROUGHT AFFECTED AREAS: A CASE STUDY OF THE MURRAY-DARLING BASIN
The Murray-Darling Basin is the heart of Australia’s agricultural industry, representing 14 per cent of all agricultural output and housing almost 40 per cent of Australia’s farmers. The area is also one of the biggest consumers of Australia’s scarce water resources and was subject to a severe drought over the period from 1997-2009. The drought years placed intense pressure on agricultural communities and industries within the Basin. The drought and its effects have placed additional pressures on rural communities, with population growth in some areas decreasing or non-existent. Within this setting, this article analyses migration patterns and makes a judgement on how severe internal migration issues are in the Murray-Darling Basin. Conceptualising internal migration as a movement from one local government area to another, we find that although enduring a negative net migration pattern especially among the youth, the net migration in the Murray-Darling Basin during the drought is not significantly different to other areas in Australia.
YOGI VIDYATTAMA, REBECCA CASSELLS, JINJING LI AND ANNIE ABELLO
Page Number - 307