Rural Policy in Australia: The Farm Family and the Farm Business
This chapter discusses the paradigms at work within the Commonwealth Department responsible for rural policy and how they influenced policy responses to values within another institution - the family farm. The chapter discusses the values of agrarianism and how the changing policy paradigm within the Department has been reflected in a move away from agrarian, equity goals to the more utilitarian goals of a policy approach based in economic liberalism. In the 1980s and 1990s, economic liberalism emerged as the dominant paradigm in government policy-making. Farm incomes were initially an important focus of Commonwealth Government rural policy, with the economic health of the sector being arguably neglected. One of the key dilemmas of rural policy in Australia is how the structural adjustment of agriculture sought by industry policy-makers can be achieved in the face of strong emotional attachments to farming as a lifestyle by many of those at whom policy is aimed.