Date of Award

2005

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Hugo Bekle

Abstract

This study evaluated local government's response to the problem of dryland salinity in the Western Australian Wheatbelt, and to what extent local government has the capacity to meet its statutory obligations. Salinity is a significant environmental problem that has the potential to have a marked effect on Western Australia's economy, environment and social fabric. The problem has been the focus of much Commonwealth and State attention, but the same level of involvement is not apparent in the institution of local government. This is also reflected in the paucity of published literature in the area of local government and salinity. Local government is closest to the salinity problem and bares the brunt of the impacts at a local community level. This study identified what statutory role is available to local authorities, and whether or not local government is well positioned to take an active role in the resolution of this problem. Particular attention was given to the identification of any benefits that local government could contribute to the overall process, development of solutions, and how it could act as a conduit through which the implementation of solutions is achieved. Local government was found to be well placed, and integral to the development of local strategies and responses to salinity. But, these initiatives need to be consistent with both Commonwealth and State strategies and policies. Developing such local strategies will serve to promote greater awareness of salinity issues and encourage broader participation within local communities. Participation, however, should not be restricted to those parties directly affected by salinity. The Shires of Beverley and Corrigin served as case studies of how local authorities are addressing salinity in the landscape. Both Shires are located in the central Wheatbelt, and as local authorities have differing interests and priorities, which influence the manner in which salinity is addressed within these respective municipalities. Some difficulties that confronted these local authorities, effectively stalling their efforts at a local level, were highlighted. There is still more that can be done by local authorities in responding to the challenge presented by salinity. Particularly, the level of co-operation between local and state authorities could be further improved. The results of this study may assist local authorities in develop strategies and responses to salinity in their respective regions. The results can also be used to facilitate improved relations between neighboring local authorities within a broader catchment and whole of landscape approach.

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