In November 2019 I commenced work on a policy briefing report with Prof. Ralph Horne and Dr. Elizabeth J. Taylor, exploring some of the historical factors which would need to be considered in developing any future decentralisation policy for the state of Victoria. This report, prepared for the bipartisan policy forum Balance Victoria, has just been released, and is available here.
It was great to have the opportunity to introduce some of the deeper philosophical issues around newness and authenticity into an applied policy context, and to work collaboratively with colleagues from different disciplines and institutions. Some of our suggestions are summed up here:
A more nuanced and considered engagement with what types of change might be pursued, and for the benefit of whom, would facilitate a more realistic and grounded approach to policy development than a wholesale rejection of newness in itself. While not presuming that policy can direct or control social and economic outcomes in place, recognising the (intentional or otherwise) role of past decisions in present outcomes is a way to develop a sense of responsibility for past, present and future communities.
This suggests a role for government that is coordinated and active, but also not focused narrowly on regulations or on immediate outcomes. To instigate long range commitment to settlement in Victoria would require questioning the assumed ‘authenticity’ argument around Melbourne and indeed existing settlements, and to interrogate assumed default or organic patterns of growth.