Evaluating Good-Practice Policy Making In National Strategic Sustainability Policies




Samnakay, Nadeem

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This thesis by compilation adds to the literature on complex policy evaluation with a specific focus on Australia's national sustainability policies. National sustainability policies incorporate broad social, economic and environmental objectives and are often associated with some degree of industry reform to influence resource use to effect environmental outcomes. The research classifies these as 'strategic' policies given that they establish principles-based frameworks wherein detailed implementation is effected through subordinate policies and programs. Using policy cycles as an analytical heuristic, Australia's national sustainability and environmental policies are assessed against a range of attributes to expose strengths and weaknesses in policy processes. The research presents a framework for good-practice policy making with specific regard to Australia's federal system of government and the constitutional arrangements that constrain national environmental policy design and implementation. The research makes a foundational step in defining the attributes of strategic policies and finds that over time, political support for any sectoral policy wanes, evidenced by reductions in resourcing and a centralising of institutional arrangements. This is driven by notions of policy failure and changing political ideologies, in-part influenced by evaluations showing that overly ambitious objectives are not being met. A good-practice evaluative framework is presented as the central focus of the research, with an emphasis on policy processes. The framework is then applied to the National Drought Agreement, revealing numerous deficiencies in policy processes given its stated sustainability objectives. The framework serves to guide the development of new policies as well as to evaluate current and past policies.






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