“ Regional development policy is highly problematic in and for Australia. Unlike the European situation, where regions (countries) have come together to establish an explicit regional policy framework with coherent (if highly controversial) interventions to reduce regional disparities, Australia struggles along with stop-start political commitment, a complex mix of often competing policies and strategies, frequent conflict over responsibilities between different levels of government, and an inadequate conception of what the “regional problem” is, beyond the vague notion of a city-country divide. There is a poor connect between research (theory), policy and practice, and indeed a poor understanding of the core questions of regional development – How do we define success? Who is responsible for regional development? What drives regional growth and decline? And, What works in terms of strategies and programs? Answering these prior questions and creating appropriate vehicles for communication between researchers, policy makers and practitioners would provide an important initial step towards setting regional policy to rights in Australia”.
” The importance of specifying precise objectives for the selection of policy instruments is obvious: different goals require different types of policies for their achievement. Similarly, it is impossible to estimate how effective regional policies have been, or will be, unless it is clear what they are designed to achieve. Without clarifying the objectives of regional policy, evaluation degenerates into measuring the effects of regional policy rather than measuring the effectiveness – and there is a world of difference between the two.”
The deliberate attempt by government (at any level) and/or regional actors to influence regional outcomes, either in relation to the economy, the community or the environment, or all three, with varying objectives that generally relate to some notion of “regional well being”.
How do we define success? (or, what is the problem we are trying to solve?)
Who is responsible for regional development?
What drives regional growth and decline?
What “works” in practice?
Other important questions – how do we know why “what works”, works? What are the triggers for intervention? How much intervention is required? Which regions should governments help (most)? Which economic activities should we grow?
The recent Grattan Institute report focuses on the last and is, at best, an incomplete analysis