The role of agrarian sentiment in Australian rural policy

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Politics has famously been described as the ‘authoritative allocation of values’
and the political science literature has discussed the mechanisms through which
different values are represented in the policy process. Much of this research has
focused on explicitly stated values that can be identified as competing interests
in the community. This chapter discusses the existence of an apparently pervasive
value in Australian agricultural policy development, which is rarely articulated
and is not represented by an identifiable interest group or ‘watchdog’. The value
is agrarianism. Agrarian imagery and appeals to national identity are frequently
used to explain rural policy decisions. This is ironic, given that in recent years
rural policy in Australia has been dominated by neo-liberal economics with an
emphasis on structural adjustment, productivity improvement and
deregulation—goals that are apparently at odds with agrarian values. This
chapter will explore the influence of agrarianism in Australia, including its
limiting impact on the level of policy debate and its role in sustaining the National
Party as a force in Australian politics.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTracking Rural Change: Community, Policy and Technology in Australia, New Zealand and Europe
EditorsFrancesca Merlan, David Raftery
Place of PublicationAustralia
PublisherANU E Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9781921536526
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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