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Westminster in the Pacific: a 'policy transfer' approach

Larmour, Peter

Description

Constitutional crises in Fiji and Solomon Islands and donor concerns about ‘good governance’ raise older questions about the appropriateness of introduced constitutions to local conditions. The paper analyses the process of transfer of ‘Westminster’ constitutions in island states of the Pacific. It considers the role of consultants, and the factors that facilitated or constrained transfer into and within the region. It also identifies cases where alternatives to Westminster were considered but...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorLarmour, Peter
dc.date.accessioned2003-10-14
dc.date.accessioned2004-05-19T18:22:08Z
dc.date.accessioned2011-01-05T08:24:09Z
dc.date.available2004-05-19T18:22:08Z
dc.date.available2011-01-05T08:24:09Z
dc.identifier.issn1328-7854
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/41834
dc.description.abstractConstitutional crises in Fiji and Solomon Islands and donor concerns about ‘good governance’ raise older questions about the appropriateness of introduced constitutions to local conditions. The paper analyses the process of transfer of ‘Westminster’ constitutions in island states of the Pacific. It considers the role of consultants, and the factors that facilitated or constrained transfer into and within the region. It also identifies cases where alternatives to Westminster were considered but rejected by local leaders. The paper concludes that Westminster has been spread by replication, almost irrespective of underlying social and political conditions. The ‘Westminster model’ was often said to be inappropriate for the countries upon which it was foisted at Independence. When decolonisation came to the South Pacific in the 1960s and 1970s, there were efforts to adapt ‘Westminster’ to local circumstances. Nevertheless, introduced institutions, and their incompatibility with indigenous ones, are still often blamed for political and economic problems in the region. Fiji’s first coup in 1987 led to reflections that democracy might be a ‘foreign flower’ unable to survive in foreign soil. Similar reflections followed George Speight’s attempted coup in Fiji in May 2000. Concern about the appropriateness of introduced institutions has become pervasive during the 1990s, as aid donors, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank have become convinced that ‘institutions matter’, and have been promoting a single vision of ‘good governance’ across different countries in the region. The paper considers the issue as one of ‘transfer’ which may involve borrowing as well as coercion. The process of transfer of Australian institutions to Papua New Guinea (PNG), for example, has been characterised as a kind of transplanting. It may lead to rejection, or failure of a transplant to take. The paper is organised around a series of questions devised by Dolowitz and Marsh to analyse the transfer of policies. They ask when does transfer take place, for example as a result of a crisis, or change of government; why does it take place, particularly was it forced or voluntary; who was involved, including ‘policy entrepreneurs’; and what was transferred? They go on to ask about the degree of transfer and the factors that constrained or facilitated it. These questions are broad enough to include other ways in which the transfer of Westminster constitutions can be analysed: as a matter of the ‘diffusion of innovations’ or of the ‘reception of laws’, or the ‘social conditions for democracy’.
dc.description.sponsorshipAusAID
dc.format.extent1885027 bytes
dc.format.extent363 bytes
dc.format.mimetypeapplication/pdf
dc.language.isoen_AU
dc.publisherCanberra, ACT: State, Society and Governance in Melanesia (SSGM) Program, The Australian National University
dc.relation.ispartofseriesDiscussion Paper (The Australian National University, State, Society and Governance in Melanesia (SSGM) Program): 2001/1
dc.rightsAuthor/s retain copyright
dc.rightsThe permission is archived ERMS2230096
dc.source.urihttp://dpa.bellschool.anu.edu.au/ssgm-research-communication/discussion-paper-series
dc.subjectgood governance
dc.subjectWestminster model
dc.subjectSouth Pacific
dc.subjectdemocracy
dc.subjectconstitutional transfer
dc.subjectreform
dc.titleWestminster in the Pacific: a 'policy transfer' approach
dc.typeWorking/Technical Paper
local.description.refereedno
local.identifier.citationyear2001
local.identifier.eprintid2122
local.rights.ispublishedyes
dc.date.issued2001
local.type.statusPublished version
local.contributor.affiliationState, Society and Governance in Melanesia, RSPAS
local.contributor.affiliationANU
local.identifier.doi10.25911/5f2007caaccf3
dcterms.accessRightsOpen Access
local.mintdoimint
CollectionsANU Dept. of Pacific Affairs (DPA) formerly State, Society and Governance in Melanesia (SSGM) Program

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