Document Type

Conference Proceeding


State of Australian Cities Network


Faculty of Business and Law


School of Law and Justice




This article was originally published as: Perkins, T. J., & Crews, J. A. (2013). The ethical dilemmas of local government planners in Western Australia. In State of Australian Cities Conference 2013: Refereed Proceedings. Sydney, Australia: State of Australian Cities Research Network. Original article available here.


This paper presents a study of ethical dilemmas faced by planners in local government in the Perth Metropolitan Region (PMR), Western Australia. A qualitative methodology has been adopted to identify planners’ personal and organisational values and the ethical dilemmas they face in their role. Local government planning officers operate in a complex political environment in which their decisions include various stakeholder interests such as private developers, local businesses, environmentalists and government authorities. As such, planners face potential competing interests which challenge their own values and compete with their professional obligations relating to planning practice and governance. Planners from urban-fringe, inner-city and coastal Local Government Areas (LGAs) were invited to participate in this study. Preliminary findings suggest that planners are operating in an increasingly complex decision-making environment. Common themes identified by participants included issues relating to non-conforming land-uses and the management of relationships between local government planners and developers. The management of community perceptions relating to race, socio-economic background and use classes perceived as ‘undesirable’ by the community also emerged in the findings. Planners were also challenged by the relationship between councillors and the administrative staff of local government. Planning consultancies were also perceived by planners as increasing the potential for unethical behaviour. This study indicates local government planners are facing an increasing range of complex ethical dilemmas yet feel they are neither equipped with the resources nor the support mechanisms to manage them effectively

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