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Federalism and Policy Change: An Analytic Narrative of Indigenous Land Rights Policy in Australia (1966–1978)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 June 2013

Christa Scholtz*
Affiliation:
McGill University
*
Christa Scholtz, Department of Political Science, McGill University, Room 414, 855 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal, Quebec, CanadaH3A 2T7, christa.scholtz@mcgill.ca

Abstract

Abstract. The paper argues that a direct causal role for federalism must link policy makers' actions to costs and uncertainties unique to federalism, those associated with maintaining jurisdictional autonomy. The paper develops a formal model of imperfect information between two government actors, one preferring policy change and the other the status quo. A government chooses to change policy (or not) in a context where two things are uncertain: the stomach for intergovernmental retaliation, and the jurisdictional bona fides of the government in the policy area. The model shows how policy change is endogenous to beliefs about whom courts will support during federalism review. The model is then used in a detailed analysis of Australian cabinet archives at the state and Commonwealth levels, pertaining to the issue of Indigenous land rights policy between 1966 and 1978.

Résumé. Le présent document soutient qu'un rôle causal direct du fédéralisme doit lier les actions des décideurs aux coûts et aux incertitudes uniques du fédéralisme : ceux associés au maintien de l'autonomie juridictionnelle. Dans cet article, je développe un modèle formel d'information imparfaite entre deux acteurs gouvernementaux, l'un préférant un changement de politique et l'autre le statu quo. Un gouvernement choisit de changer (ou non) une politique dans un contexte où deux éléments sont incertains : la propension à entrer dans des représailles intergouvernementales, et la bonne foi juridictionnelle du gouvernement dans le domaine en question. Le modèle montre que le changement de politique est endogène avec la perception de qui les tribunaux soutiendront dans un jugement de partage des compétences. Le modèle est ensuite utilisé pour analyser en détail les archives du Cabinet australien au niveau des états et du Commonwealth, relativement à la question des droits territoriaux autochtones entre 1966 et 1978.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Canadian Political Science Association 2013 

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