Conference paper

Understanding the role and expectations of local government planners in the contemporary political environment: a South Australian perspective

Cities and towns Community participation Local government Urban planning Governance Australia South Australia
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Abstract: Planning is a discipline constantly in transition, reflecting the economic and political ideologies of the time. These trends cause the relationship between the state and the individual to change, altering the intentions and expectations attributed to the profession. As such, planners are continually forced to assess their role, motivations and own values in their working environment. Considering the impact of the current neoliberal ideology upon global and Australian governance, this article aims to consider the current role and expectations of the individual local government planner in the South Australian planning system. Ultimately, this paper is based mainly on a close analysis of neoliberalism in relation to recent South Australian planning reforms. This paper provides a desktop study of South Australian political and planning documentation, and assesses these in light of the neoliberal agenda. Although this list is by no means exhaustive, it gives some understanding to how South Australia has adapted to this phenomenon in their own policy. This paper concludes that one can begin to understand that modern local government planners theoretically appear to be confronted with facilitating the public interest, as is the duty of their profession, while facing increased needs to be cost-effective, time-efficient and ‘accountable’. Ultimately, the value of this paper lies in the understanding that the individual planner’s identity and validation is important in contemporary political discourse.

The State of Australian Cities (SOAC) national conferences have been held biennially since 2003 to support interdisciplinary policy-related urban research.

This paper was presented at SOAC 6, held in Sydney from 26-29 November 2013.

SOAC 6 was the largest conference to date, with over 180 papers published in collected proceedings. All papers presented at the SOAC 2013 have been subject to a double blind refereeing process and have been reviewed by at least two referees. In particular, the review process assessed each paper in terms of its policy relevance and the contribution to the conceptual or empirical understanding of Australian cities.

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