Damming the Flow: Cultural Barriers to Perceived ‘Procedural Justice’ in Wonthaggi, Victoria

Tanya J. King

Abstract

Drier conditions in Australia have compelled governments to implement projects such as the desalination plant in the South Gippsland town of Wonthaggi. The desalination plant is still under construction, but South Gippsland is already host to wind turbines and marine protected areas, reflecting public pressure to develop renewable energy sources and conserve resources. However, all projects have been met with vocal opposition. Using the desalination project as a case study, this paper will address public concerns about a perceived lack of procedural justice in implementing such projects. Drawing on data from a pilot survey of 320 residents, we argue that procedural shortcomings of the project include inattention to past political disputes in the region and to the culturally entrenched sense of division between city and country. Attention to political and cultural histories is vital to the successful and ethical implementation of projects in regional areas.

Keywords

procedural justice, city vs. country, political histories

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