Winners and losers in coastal policy reform – Victoria as a case study

Dr Rebecca Koss1, Dr Geoff Wescott1

1Deakin University, Burwood, Australia, 2Deakin University, Burwood, Australia


In the development of Victoria’s first state-wide coastal legislation (1994) an analysis suggested the key departments and the community were ‘winners’  whilst others came out neutral.

Using a similar analysis for the 2015/16 coastal policy review (outcome the Marine and Coastal Act 2018) we highlight the initial winners and losers.

After describing the reform process, including emphasizing the opportunities that were available to contribute constructively, our  analysis will show that some agencies directly involved were less than fully transparent and open in their contributions to the major review, whilst other critical groups chose not to be involved to the extent that they did not even make submissions to the primary consultation paper.

Some of the conclusions from the study’s analysis reveal, not surprisingly for such a contested area as coastal zone management, that bodies/ organisations which were capable of exercising political muscle before and during the review came out the best. Those which had been under-resourced in the previous years, most notably the Regional Coastal Boards fared much worse.

The role of the lead department was also very interesting as it serviced the review and carried forward the recommendations of the expert panel appointed to run the consultation process, much to its benefit as it turned out. Finally, the government / ministerial restrictions placed on the expert panels review from initiation had substantial influence over the outcomes as did the surprising establishment of two new marine/ coastal sectoral, or restrictive, authorities during and after the review.


Geoff Wescott has researched, taught and worked in marine and coastal policy for 40 years and has authored over 100 technical papers in that time. He is currently a Member of VEAC and is Deputy Chair of Zoos Victoria. He chaired both the review which led to Victoria’s first comprehensive coastal Act in 1995 and recently the expert panel whose recommendations led to the Victorian Marine and Coastal Act 2018. He has served on numerous government and non government bodies.