Australian Urban Planning: New Challenges, New Agendas

By Brendan Gleeson; Nicholas Low | Go to book overview

5
Changing uraban governance II:
corporate liberalism

Social democratic managerialism (SDM) transformed the activities and structures of urban governance across the states. Importantly, political control of the apparatus of government was greatly enhanced. The old fragmented professional structures of colonial bureaucracy (CB) were replaced by more centralised and integrated systems of government, steered by political priorities and attuned to what were widely portrayed as the imperatives of globalisation. Even so, as we saw in chapter 4, there were considerable differences among the responses of the states.

The social democratic aims of early managerialism faded in the 1990s as the political cycle turned and neoliberalism took command as the dominant ideology of government. Managerialism, however, rapidly adapted to the neoliberal ideology, finding common cause with the political aims of the right-wing governments that took control in most states in the 1990s. Indeed, as we discuss in chapter 9, managerialism and neoliberalism have much in common. What emerged in the 1990s was the form of urban governance we have termed ‘corporate liberalism’ (CL). We do not want to suggest that CL is a monolithic system. In fact, as is clear from the advance of environmentally and ecologically oriented planning legislation in New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia, a new paradigm of environmental governance is already taking shape. (This we discuss further in chapter 8.)

At federal level, by the early 1990s there was belated recognition by the Commonwealth government of the failure of new urban policy regimes to improve general welfare (Bunker & Minnery 1992). A Building Better Cities (BBC) program was instituted in 1991, promising significant investment funds—over A$800 million in the first five

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