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A Tale of Two Jurisdictions: A Focus on the Effect of Regulatory Constraints on Municipal Resilience in Australia

Governmental Financial Resilience

ISBN: 978-1-78714-263-3, eISBN: 978-1-78714-262-6

Publication date: 30 May 2017


Australia notably was one of the few developed nations to avoid a technical recession subsequent to the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). However, the fact that the nation escaped a technical recession doesn’t mean that citizens and local governments were not subject to some of the measures associated with post-GFC austerity. In particular, intergovernmental grants – an important source of revenue for Australian local governments – were frozen by the federal government seeking to mitigate large deficits over the forward estimates. This chapter compares and contrasts the budgetary outcomes for the local governments of Australia’s two most populous states – New South Wales and Victoria. We find that the disparate regulatory controls in the two municipal jurisdictions were strongly associated with the budgetary outcomes of the individual municipalities: In particular, we present evidence which suggests that taxation limitations and lax investment guidelines in New South Wales can be associated with relatively inferior budgetary positions and higher budgetary volatility. By way of contrast, Victorian councils had the flexibility to vary rates of taxation to the changing conditions and largely avoided investment losses associated with the financial failure of Lehman Brothers. In New South Wales the regulatory response to deteriorating municipal budgets (subsequent to the GFC) has been to execute a radical programme of forced amalgamations. Somewhat ironically, the Victorian state government has recently imposed taxation limitations on its municipalities. In summary, this chapter demonstrates the saliency of regulatory constraints on municipal resilience, in the context of post-GFC economic challenges.



Drew, J. (2017), "A Tale of Two Jurisdictions: A Focus on the Effect of Regulatory Constraints on Municipal Resilience in Australia", Governmental Financial Resilience (Public Policy and Governance, Vol. 27), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 35-52.



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