The localism gap - the CLEAR failings of official consultation in the Murray Darling Basin


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12 Citations (Scopus)


This article argues that the inability of the Commonwealth and State Governments in Australia to affect significant progress on water reform is largely a product of their inability to win the hearts and minds of rural communities; a failure to understand the importance of localism. Hitherto, the failure to bring the politics back in and integrate community voices into the process of policy development has proved the major obstacle to the achievement of a balanced social and environmental perspective in the Murray Darling Basin (MDB) and has served to reinforce traditional prejudices. This article makes four main contributions to the study of communities experiencing stress. Firstly, we present the case for deep local democratization in times of stress. Secondly, we build on a diagnostic tool – the Can do Like to Enabled to Asked to Responded to (CLEAR) model – to evaluate the effectiveness of the consultation process underpinning the Guide to the Murray Darling Basin Plan (MDBP) and apply it to the Forbes consultation. Thirdly and fourthly, we use the findings from this evaluation to identify principles of community engagement which provide the best possible conditions for effective social mobilization and the capabilities that are necessary to deliver effective citizen-centric policy outcomes in communities experiencing high levels of stress
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-558
Number of pages18
JournalPolicy Studies
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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