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Inter-governmental relations in the provision of local e-services
chapterposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Robert Kelso
Australia is a nation of 20 million citizens occupying approximately the same land mass as the continental U.S. More then 80% of the population lives in the state capitals where the majority of the state government offices and employees are based. The heavily populated areas on the Eastern seaboard, including all of the six state capitals have advanced ICT capability and infrastructure and Australians readily adopt new technologies. However, there is a recognition of a digital divide which corresponds with the “great dividing” mountain range separating the sparsely populated arid interior from the populated coastal regions (Trebeck, 2000). A common theme in political commentary is that Australians are “over-governed” with three levels of government, federal, state, and local. Many of the citizens living in isolated regions would say “over governed” and “under serviced”. Most of the state and local governments, “ … have experienced difficulties in managing the relative dis-economies of scale associated with their small and often scattered populations.” Rural and isolated regions are the first to suffer cutbacks in government services in periods of economic stringency (O’Faircheallaigh, Wanna, & Weller, 1999, p.98).Australia has, in addition to the Commonwealth government in Canberra, two territory governments, six state governments and about 700 local governments. All three levels of government, federal, state, and local, have employed ICTs to address the “tyranny of distance” (Blainey, 1967), a term modified and used for nearly 40 years to describe the isolation and disadvantage experienced by residents in remote and regional Australia.While the three levels of Australian governments have been working co-operatively since federation in 1901 with the federal government progressively increasing its power over that time, their agencies and departments generally maintain high levels of separation; the Queensland Government Agent Program is the exception.