City Power In Australian Federalism: The Past, The Future And Implications For Australian Political Studies.

Stream: Panel 2 - Comparative Politics: Governing the Urban: Tales of Different Cities 
Date: Monday, 26 September 2016
Time: 11.30 am – 1.00 pm
Speaker(s): Bligh Grant, Alex Lawrie and Roberta Ryan

Notwithstanding important differences between Australia’s sovereign jurisdictions, the authority of Australia’s capital cities has been largely constrained by a ‘designing out’ in the drafting of the Australian Constitution and fragmented (although variable) governance arrangements at the hands of state governments. However, contemporary bi-partisan acknowledgement of the economic and social importance of cities, in itself an historical anomaly, invites a consideration of both the past and future of ‘cities as politics’ and whether, and how, their putative increasing importance ought to be fully embraced by Australian political studies. With these issues framing our inquiry, the paper undertakes three tasks. First, we examine both the rhetoric and the remit of the Turnbull Government’s Ministry for Cities and the Built Environment and Labor’s contemporary endorsement of the cities agenda, reflective of its long-standing attention to both regional and local government. Second, we examine ‘state-city’ conflict in Sydney global city, providing some detail of how this conflict has played out historically and how it is currently manifested, noting the striking consistencies in different historical iterations of this conflict. Third, we think through the implications for Australian political studies of a putative increase of the importance of cities in the Australian polity. We suggest inter alia that alongside requiring greater trans-disciplinary collaboration, state-city politics could form a fruitful basis of comparative international research.