Community expectations for the role of local government in Regional Australia: Meeting the challenges of 'slow burn'

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Journal Article
Australasian Journal of Regional Studies, 2016, 22 (1), pp. 158 - 180
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Regional Australia is confronted by specific demographic, social, economic and infrastructure challenges, which we are denoting as 'slow-burn' threats. This article interrogates a recent national survey concerned with the value of local government to Australian communities, focusing upon differences in responses for regional and remote areas compared to those from urban capital cities. Findings indicate that regional and remote residents place more importance on local government delivering services that specifically focus on the long-term development and sustainability of the community than their urban counterparts, particularly economic and community development roles. We argue that this constitutes a demonstration of the different expectations that regional and remote communities have of local government in the face of 'slow burn' in regional and remote areas. Further, we suggest that the relationship between local governments in regional Australia and the communities they serve is usefully conceived in terms of what we denote as 'the close economy' and 'the local state'.
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