Assessing the efficacy of state interventionist policies on population growth in small Western Australian regional locales

Jan-Willem Van Staden, Fiona Haslam McKenzie

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In 2008, the Western Australian State Government initiated its Royalties for Regions Program to fund its regional development mandate. The program, an outcome of an electoral commitment, reallocated 25% of the state's prodigious mineral royalties to non-metropolitan regions, with supporters applauding the improved regional conditions and critics claiming fiscal irresponsibility. Numerous reviews, mostly qualitative, were undertaken, but the state's Auditor-General asserted that the program remained unmeasured. This paper presents a quantitative analysis of the program's outcomes as framed by the state's regional development policies. It investigates the program's influence on populations in small local governments (with fewer than 5,000 residents), where its effect would be most prominent, to determine whether the program prompted population growth. The research uses census data to examine how these municipalities' population growth deviated from their projected growth while discounting for major resource projects - the mainstay of these local governments. The research concludes that the sampled populations typically declined more than projected. Discussion follows, questioning whether government investment and interventionist policies in regional development can achieve population growth in regional settings.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages27
JournalAustralian Geographer
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2020

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