Beliefs and political decision making in the workings of local government planning arenas

Rob Crosthwaite

1University Of Tasmania


The Tasmanian State Coastal Policy is embedded in the State Planning System which has “fair, orderly and sustainable use and development” as a core objective. At the local government level, councils also act as planning authorities that assess development proposals against the provisions of the local planning scheme. There is no authoritative opportunity for Councillors, in their planning authority role, to offer or exercise any personal, political or advocacy preferences. Tasmanian councils when they act as planning authorities, address proposals that generate vociferous community debate and contest and, as elected representatives, Councillors can be expected to reflect these public disagreements. Nonetheless, they are prohibited from airing those differences prior to any debate in council in accordance with the requirements of Local Government and Planning System legislation.

This paper hypothesyses that:

Elected Councillors behave differently when they engage in open policy debate from their behaviour as members of a planning authority.

The transcripts of the recording of Council deliberations will be compared with the transcripts of meetings when the council meets as a planning authority. The application of a key word search will locate expressions of those Councillors’ understanding of the problem and indicate their belief and value systems within a construct of coalition advocacy.

It is anticipated that, while Councillors go to legislated lengths to distance themselves from expressing preferences for any positions before meeting as a planning authority, there will be instances where these preferences are openly expressed at the Council table.


A background in education and community development concern for the protection of Tasmania’s coastal heritage is the impetus for research into the role of advocacy in coastal management policymaking.