Examining the development and implementation of public policy

This program focuses on the complex framework of politics, actors and processes comprising public policy.

Policies are embodiments of different approaches to problems reflecting different political agendas, assumptions about the nature of politics and the public sector, as well as disputes over and between the sources of political power.

We examine the role of politicians, public servants, community participants and others involved in developing and implementing public policies and their capacity to do so. This research provides important insights about the practical strategies and the design and delivery of programs and services.

Program leader: Dr Cosmo Howard


Dr Tracey Arklay has recently written a piece for the Machinery of Government Blog by the Policy Innovation Hub at Griffith University.  Tracey's piece on Managing the Australian Federation beyond Covid-19 - How to achieve long-lasting intergovernmental reformlooks at the establishment of the National Cabinet and it's use going forward. The National Cabinet has brought decision makers together in a spirit of bipartisan cooperation to tackle a sudden and devastating health and economic crisis. Its success, according to the Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been due to the lack of ‘theatre’ and politics that were a common feature of COAG meetings. Tracey explores ideas for achieving reform on Federalism going forward.

Read more here


Centre for Governance and Public Policy Director Professor Patapan recently returned from a successful meeting with Professor Lan Xue, Dean, School of Public Policy and Management, Professor Xufend Zhu, Associate Dean, and Associate Professor Zhilin Liu, Director, Institute of Politics and Public Policy, Tsinghua University.

The discussions held on October 15 canvassed the possibility of joint workshops and symposia, international visits and new exchange programs for the Centre’sdoctoral students and academics.  The potential for collaboration on major research projects was also discussed. The School of Public Policy and Management, Tsinghua University has over 61 faculty members and is considered one of the foremost Policy Schools in China and internationally.  The Centre is looking forward to developing and cementing our relationship with School.

Executive Education

Dr Liz van Acker and Dr Tracey Arklay are involved in executive education. In 2018, they are delivering a Graduate Certificate of Policy Analysis tailored for the specific needs of public servants in the Queensland's Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy.

They are also participating in the delivery of a series of workshops to the Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy.


We know that marriage and relationships are changing. Dr Liz van Acker has been exploring this fascinating trajectory which culminated in the publication of her book, Marriage and Values in Public Policy: Conflicts in the UK, the USA and Australia, earlier this year.  On 13 September Liz presented her findings at a seminar hosted by London based relationship education support and research charity, OnePlusOne. Liz’s seminar examined cohabitation and same-sex marriage to demonstrate how relationship values in the political and policy arena inevitably come into play. Liz demonstrated that contradictions reinforce the divergence of policy solutions and programs in Australia and England. Changing marriage laws, practices and values mean that in Australia, cohabiting couples have gained strong legal protections which are the same as marriage. They have more automatic legal rights than cohabitants in England. However, in Australia, while same-sex couples also enjoy these protections, they are not permitted to marry and the issue remains controversial. The seminar provoked an interesting debate about the challenges confronted by service providers, policy makers and governments.

To see her take on the same-sex marriage debate and why it needs a resolution now visit our YouTube page here.


Dr Tracey Arklay, Dr Liz van Acker and Associate Professor Robyn Hollander are working on a project examining a case study of sugar cane growing and the idea of 'open-minded sceptics'. States act as policy laboratories in order to  trial new ideas that might challenge old ways of doing things, inspire other political actors to consider different policy strategies, and provide lessons (on what to do and what not to do) that can be utilised in other jurisdictions. The Burdekin nitrogen trial (RP20) provides an example of an innovative strategy with the potential for application and modification in other jurisdictions. The challenge was to reduce nutrient runoff into the Great Barrier Reef.  For the project, we are interviewing stakeholders such as public servants and farmers to understand how the trial was implemented, despite the scepticism of some participants.

Seminar series

Dealing with topical and current issues, the Centre’s seminar series is a great opportunity to learn and network.

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