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Agricultural and Resource Policy Topic:

Major written assignment: Agricultural and Resource Policy Topic: Negative gearing has effects on housing prices, which is (among other things) a land-use issue and could be put into a “resource economics” context.

In this part of the unit, students will be invited to investigate an important current or historical policy issues, and debates in the literature regarding appropriate policy responses. You will choose a relevant policy issue (that should be discussed with me first) and write substantial essay on that issue. The suggested word-count guide (noting some flexibility) is for a single author, 1750-2000words;

Be sure to understand the basic institutional political and legal details (is there a key piece of legislation? are there federal-state jurisdictional issues that need to be understood and explained? etc.).

Be sure to be across the main economic issues concerning your policy topic. Be sure to be consulting key pieces of economic literature, and be able to discuss them in a way that makes clear you comprehend them.

Your topic may be something current or something historical, but a current topic needs to be put into a longer-run context. Example: the NSW government is currently proposing new land-clearing laws, which have potential implications for farm production and for biodiversity preservation. If you were to choose this, you would want to look more broadly at land-clearing laws in historical context, as there have been debates about such laws, and alternative policy design and implementation for preserving biodiversity.

In particular, you should not simply be writing a descriptive piece on some recent, current or proposed policy or regulation.

It is also not advisable to propose to “investigate the impact of” Policy X, as a few of you have; this suggests you are going to attempt to do original research, which is not what is expected or required for this task. (It is unlikely you would do it justice in the time you have.) You should be relying on literature on the topic, as well as your own understanding of economics, to write a summary evaluation of a policy framework or initiative. Your approach should be primarily analytical—while you will inevitably include descriptive material, it is not a primarily descriptive task.

As mentioned above, you will be relying on literature. This will include peer-reviewed literature (including, for example, papers from the Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics as well as other journals and books), and so-called grey literature, such as Productivity Commission reports, ABARES studies, consultancy documents and the like. If the topic you consider has very little literature analyzing it, you will have not have much to draw on and your essay will be very descriptive and contain little analysis. I would not recommend this.

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