'Between a Rock and a Hard Place": The Imposition of a National Strategy of Sustainable Development with Resource Security
AbstractFor the centralist conservationist, any possibility of creating a nationally imposed strategy over our natural resources, meeting standards of coherence and ecological soundness, may be received most favourably in the wake of a decade of poor environmental management by the states, the Commonwealth and private developers. The significant constitutional hurdles which such a strategy must overcome may be regarded as apparently insurmountable. However, utilisation of the extended limits of the constitutional ability of the Commonwealth, as reflected in several historic decisions of the High Court during the past decade to impose a Commonwealth-initiated national strategy of resource development, leads one to conclude that such a strategy may be both feasible and warranted. The subtle, but significant, issue laying at the centre of such considerations is the distinction between a negative, or prohibitive, regulatory strategy and a positive strategy for adherence to certain environmental standards in resource development. It is a view propounded in this paper that, whatever the effectiveness of Commonwealth power in a negatory land use role, the long-term cause of environment protection may be better served by a positive national strategy of resource development.
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