Thursday, October 7, 2010

Australia Lecture Two

In 100 words or less, describe what you think are the main differences, both in style and substance, between the New Zealand and Australian planning systems.


  1. To me, the two key differences are in the scope of consultation and investment in infrastructure. In Australia, public participation seems to occur mostly at the visioning stage, with little regard given to consultation at the stage of fleshing out the details of the initiative. The limited approach to democracy serves to fast track developments (reflecting Australia's culture of 'getting things done'). In contrast, the RMA and LGA create a strong mandate for consultation, thus slowing the delivery of plans and projects.

    In addition, the Australian Commonwealth invests much more than NZ's central government in large infrastructure projects (and in particular, rail and metro developments).

    As discussed by the lecturer, the common theme between these two differences appears to be the cultural framework - whereas Australia has an attitude to 'get things done' (i.e. create tangible outcomes), NZ society is more strongly aligned with 'making sure everyone is happy'.

  2. Katherine (Katie) Round 4643038October 8, 2010 at 9:34 AM

    Similar to Sanjay’s comments, a key one that stuck out was their approach to infrastructure projects. In Australia they have a culture of getting the job done whilst in New Zealand the culture is more making it happen by an agreed consensus (which is a more timely process compared to Australia).
    Another difference is the perceived roles of local government in each system. In Australia local governments have more limited functions similar to the traditional ‘roads, rats and rubbish’, whilst in New Zealand local governments have much wider functions under the mandate of sustainable development (and the four well-beings) under the Local Government Act 2002.
    Another difference is the dominance of the Australian states and the inherent differences that are present between them in terms of how planning processes occur. They can be seen as mini countries and they have much more power over the local government especially when it comes to projects of importance to the state. In New Zealand, local government tends to has more influence and involvement in planning processes and there is more consistency in approach between them across the country under the Resource Management Act’s 1991 hierarchy of plans and policies.
    Another interesting point raised in the lecture was the occasional involvement of the Australian national government (Labour-led) in planning programmes such as ‘Building Better Cities’.

  3. The biggest differences that struck me the most were the level of power of the State entails and the strong influence politicians have in planning decisions. Within Australia, the State holds overall control of planning which could potentially lead to a piece-meal approach to planning decisions across Austrlia. In comparison, central government has a greater level of control within NZ, which delegates responsibilities and power to local government through legislation (LGA), rather than pure choice. However, this level of control is relatively consistent with Australia’s vast size and the spatial dispersion of urban areas compared to NZ’s smaller land mass and population. Furthermore (in drawing from the previous comments), the focus on public participation within our local government decision-making processes would create more accountability and autonomy to society compared to Australia’s culture of ‘getting things done’ that encompasses little public input.
    Secondly, politicians have a huge level of influence on which projects do and do not get implemented compared to NZ. This would create a lot of frustration for planners, especially if there is poor communication links between the two levels.

  4. For me the difference in both style and substance between NZ and Australia is that 'getting the job done' doesn't necessary mean 'getting the job right' and discounting those that it impacts upon. I guess for NZ we focus not on 'making everyone happy' but on 'making sure all concerns have been heard' so that informed decisions can be made. Although not perfect I think NZ is on the right path that community and the environment are taken into account.

  5. Ke4t0n Lan3 4928818

    I agree with Katie when she says that the top level of federal governance in Australia hold most of the power in the decision making process. This is not however hugely different to New Zealand in a way. The exam I choose to use here is the example of the newly elected Auckland City mayor pledging himself to a very expensive rail system and not getting support from the NZ central government. I believe it is not so much a difference in style between the two companies as a difference in substance. New Zealands two pieces of local government legislation the RMA and LGA try hard to embody the public at every turn. Taking from our lecture on Australia i do not really believe this is the case with Australia. Level 5 EPA approval path has similarities to NZ planning process aswell however but this is not the main way they make decisions.

  6. Anita Victoria PalacioOctober 14, 2010 at 7:44 PM

    Because of the obvious distance and sister relationship there are similarities between NZ and Aus. These similarities are formed more so from the relationship between planning and funding, planning and community development and the individual in the planning process. When i did my research paper on Alternative dispute resolution i found that it was easier to connect with the planners in the australian system than it was in the NZ one. This was due to differences in practice, attitude and there were also legislative differences that allowed the modification of planning applications over time. I feel planning in australia is more adaptive than what occurs in NZ.

  7. jake lawrenc3 4969505

    Personally I agree with previous comments that one of the key differences between Australian and NZ planning is through the increased power of the State and associated political influence on fundamentally ‘planning’ issues. Because of this state level power planning decision making can lack integration and strategic direction resulting in conflicting goals across each state. This fragmentation of planning means that Australia may lack the same level of strategic national direction which is ensured in New Zealand by a high level of control from central government directives. Perhaps the state powers area response to the increased population and geographical size of Australia in comparison to New Zealand. With this in mind it may be important to recognise a ‘horses for courses’ approach as often different planning systems and decision making structures are required to address the different scale and nature of issues in Australia and NZ.

  8. Kimberley Edmonds - 4992625

    Following previous comments I also think the states dominance over planning in Australia and the general supremacy of government at the higher rather than lower level is different from New Zealand. What interested me however in this lecture was when the question was raised about whether Australia has legislation equivalent to the RMA. From my understanding Australia does not have anything similar at national level, and rather each state implements their own planning objectives. The reason for this I assume is because Australia’s sheer geographic size renders a blanket legislation such as the RMA difficult to implement with all round positive outcomes. A question however, is that in the long run are fragmented goals with different implementation methods across states, rather than an overarching goal such as sustainable management, beneficial for Australia's sustainability in the long term.

  9. Jonathan - 48909696

    In essence it would be the difference between Australia's federalism system which places alot of autonomous authourity on the States in respect to Environmental Managment and New Zealand's less defined regionalism which places limited authority within the regional governance with Evironmental Management. Environental Managment in New Zealand is based around the RMA and its purpose and general duty of Sustainable Management. The Central Government has a more greater control over Environmental Management and policy direction which local authorities must follow in New Zealand. In Australia, there is more state by state environmental management, this does lead to some difference in planning processes, however with no overall principles to guide the states to ensure that there is an adequate environmental baseline across statelines, sustainable management in New Zealand's understanding will be difficult to achieve.