Policy entrepreneurship in Australia: a conceptual review and application

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  • This article was downloaded by: [141.214.17.222]On: 05 November 2014, At: 16:41Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

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    Policy entrepreneurship in Australia: aconceptual review and applicationChris Mackenzie aa Victorian Department of Education and TrainingPublished online: 27 Sep 2010.

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  • Australian Journal of Political Science,Vol. 39, No. 2, July, pp. 367386

    Policy Entrepreneurship in Australia: AConceptual Review and Application

    CHRIS MACKENZIE

    Victorian Department of Education and Training

    This article adapts the theoretical construct of policy entrepreneurship in politicalscience to an analysis of one important initiative in policy-making in Australiabetween 1992 and 1994, the National Asian Languages and Studies in AustralianSchools Strategy (NALSAS). Originally an initiative of the Queensland Govern-ment, NALSAS sought to advance the teaching of Asian languages and studies ofAsia in Australian schools. The then Director General of the Queensland Office ofthe Cabinet, Mr Kevin Rudd, was its key protagonist. The article identifies andanalyses Rudds adroit policy entrepreneurship that was needed to overcomesignificant resistance and deliver the subsequent policy outcomes. It does this bycarrying out a two-level analysis that considers individual and contextual factorsand concludes that, even though Rudd displayed many of the individual character-istics of a policy entrepreneur, his actions were heavily mediated by contextualfactors. The article also demonstrates how a concept developed elsewhere, in thiscase North America, can be applied in other contexts, and calls for more scholar-ship on policy entrepreneurship in contemporary Australia.

    The first university appointment in Oriental Studies was made in 1866 in theUniversity of Melbourne. The first teaching of an Asian language at secondarylevel commenced much later, after the end of World War 1. Substantial governmentintervention occurred in 1969 when the Commonwealth government established anAdvisory Committee to prepare a report titled the Teaching of Asian Languagesand Cultures in Australia (Auchmuty 1970). In its report, Professor J.J. Auchmuty,the chair, and his fellow committee members, clearly recognised the need to equipAustralians with an understanding and knowledge of Asia and Asian languages inview of Australias close economic and political relations with the region. How-ever, despite acknowledging their importance, the Committee lamented the state ofAsian studies and languages in Australia. The Committee found that the availabilityof Asian languages was insufficient and Asia was not properly considered in thesocial sciences curricula at the secondary level. Other matters of concern includedinadequate teaching and curriculum materials and an insufficient pool of qualifiedteachers to support an expansion in the teaching of Asian studies.1 The Auchmuty

    Chris Mackenzie is a Policy Officer in the Interagency Relations Branch, Division of External andIntergovernmental Relations, Victorian Department of Education and Training. The doctoral thesisfrom which this article is derived was awarded by Victoria University in 2002.1 In this article, Asian studies is understood to encompass Asian languages and the study of the

    histories, politics, economies and cultures of the Asian-Pacific region as well as its artistic,philosophical and religious traditions.

    ISSN 1036-1146 print; ISSN 1363-030X online/04/020367-20 2004 Australasian Political Studies AssociationDOI: 10.1080/1036114042000238564

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  • 368 C. MACKENZIE

    Report also concluded that, in order to make significant advances, a cooperativeeffort between the States, Territories and the Commonwealth was necessary.Despite Auchmutys findings and recommendations, as well as a range of policyinitiatives since 1970 that have, to some degree, alleviated the problems heidentified, many of them persisted well into the 1980s and early 1990s. During thisperiod there remained considerable scope for improvement.

    This article2 considers the most recent and arguably most successful attempt toameliorate the problems described above, the National Asian Languages andStudies in Australian Schools Strategy (NALSAS).3 The NALSAS Strategy was aninitiative of the Queensland government, driven by the former Director General ofthe Queensland Office of the Cabinet, Kevin Rudd (199194), now Federal LaborOpposition spokesman for Foreign Affairs. The article adapts the theoreticalconstruct of policy entrepreneurship in political science to analyse how Ruddachieved the policy outcome. Policy entrepreneurship refers to the actions, behav-iour and qualities of dynamic policy actors in pursuit of policy change. The concepthas been articulated and applied in research by a number of American politicalscientists including Frank Baumgartner and Bryan Jones (1993), John Kingdon(1995), Michael Mintrom (2000) and others. Neither as part of a general discussionnor with specific intent has an Australian scholar or practitioner to date sought toanalyse policy making and policy change by having recourse to the concept ofpolicy entrepreneurship.

    The article concludes that, although Rudd can be identified as a policy en-trepreneur and while he participated in entrepreneurial activities that heavilyinfluenced the NALSAS Strategy policy process, he was nonetheless assisted by anumber of contextual forces. In other words, policy entrepreneurs are catalysts ofpolicy change, but they produce change under circumstances which mediate theiractions in important ways.

    At a broader conceptual level, this article attempts to achieve a number of otherobjectives. First, using the concept of policy entrepreneurship to analyse theNALSAS Strategy policy process allows an exploration of how theoretical frame-works, theories and models designed elsewhere can be imported and applied inother contexts. This opens up the possibility of a reformulation of the concept andmay be instructive in terms of providing clues about how policy entrepreneurshipas an explanatory framework can be strengthened. The value of the import andapplication process also lies in its potential to help scholars and practitioners makesense of policy developments in contemporary Australia by equipping them with anew set of analytical tools. Thus, the second objective of this article is to show howthe concept of policy entrepreneurship may be applied more generally in theAustralian context. It seeks to encourage more scholarship on policy entrepreneur-ship in Australia and to provide guidelines for how this may be achieved.

    2 Data for the study were drawn mainly from interviews, public documents and communiqus.Interviewed for the purposes of the research were 19 senior State and Commonwealth governmentofficials, politicians and an advisor. Of these, only the responses of 11 are used in this article: fivefrom Queensland, six from the Commonwealth and the former chair of the Australian Language andLiteracy Council. Four of the interviewees were comfortable with being identified by name andposition, while the others requested anonymity. The latter are referred to by their level of seniorityand agency. In cases where there are two interviewees from the same agency, each is given an A orB letter identification.

    3 The Commonwealth terminated funding and abolished the NALSAS Strategy in December 2002.

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  • POLICY ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN AUSTRALIA 369

    Policy Entrepreneurship

    A few scholars have produced a small body of literature based on studies ofindividuals in the policy process. Borrowing from the economic and private sectorusage of the term, these scholars employed the metaphorical language of the policyentrepreneur to denote individual agency in policy making. The policy entrepreneurbecame a focus for some policy analysts and the policy sciences alike during the1980s and 1990s, although some studies can be traced to the early 1970s. Thesebuilt upon a number of groundbreaking studies and seminal texts which appearedin the 1960s and 1970s (Schattschneider 1960; Dahl 1961; Polsby 1963; Lindblom1965; Cohen et al 1972; Simeon 1972, 1976; Simon 1976; Wildavsky 1979) which,while not focused exclusively on policy entrepreneurship, placed increasing empha-sis on the individual as a key variable in the policy process.

    In the earliest research, policy entrepreneurship was understood as a form ofpolitical skill (Bardach 1972), while many of the studies on policy agenda-settingwhich followed considered entrepreneurs crucial agents of change in the policyprocess (Eyestone 1978; Baumgartner and Jones 1993; Kingdon 1995; Schneider etal 1995; Roberts and King 1996; Mintrom 2000). Other authors have consideredthe notion of policy entrepreneurship in terms of the importance of entrepreneursidentifying issues and pushing them onto the agendas of key decision-makers(Weissert 1991). To gain a better understanding of policy entrepreneurs scholarshave studied Congressional staff (Price 1971; Walker 1977), Congress (Uslaner1978), non-politicians (Doig and Hargrove 1987; Roberts and King 1996), policy-making at the national level in the United States (Wilson 1980; Polsby 1984;Kingdon 1995) and in State legislatures (Bardach 1972; Mintrom and Vergari 1998;Mintrom 2000). Scholarship on policy innovation and diffusion has also demon-strated that entrepreneurs are crucial to the transfer of policy innovations acrossdifferent jurisdictions (Walker 1977, 1981; Polsby 1984). There are also a numberof influential studies amongst this literature which, while never engaging with theidea of a policy entrepreneur, implicitly acknowledge the possibilities for en-trepreneurial activity (Walker 1969; Grey 1973; Riker 1986; Berry and Berry 1990,1992).

    In these accounts, the policy entrepreneur is variously described as a consensus-builder and as an issue generator and issue broker; one portrayed as alert tothe opening of policy windows, that is, congenial political circumstances whichoffer policy entrepreneurs opportunities to push policy ideas. The policy en-trepreneur is also skilled in the art of argument and persuasion, and is able tomanipulate how problems and policy issues are defined, so as to mould new policyimages and exploit the many policy venues present, particularly in federalsystems of government. Policy entrepreneurs are catalysts and change agents,innovators and ideas people who pursue their goals through entrepreneurialdesign. They possess acute strategic sense when pursuing their policy goals,usually have a wide spectrum of interpersonal contacts and collegial networks andoften engage in bargaining to achieve their ends, particularly when persuasionfails. In short, policy entrepreneurs are significant agents for change.

    Kevin Rudd, the policy entrepreneur on whom this article concentrates, was thekey protagonist and driving force behind the NALSAS Strategy. Rudd commenceda career with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) as a traineediplomat in 1981. After serving at a number of overseas posts, he returned to

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  • 370 C. MACKENZIE

    Australia to work in the Departments Policy Planning Branch. In June 1988(Walker 1995), he sought leave of absence from DFAT to become private secretaryto Wayne Goss, then the Queensland Opposition leader. After Goss and the LaborParty came to power in December 1989, with an overwhelming majority, Ruddbecame Principal Policy Adviser to Goss. Ross Fitzgerald has argued that Ruddwas absolutely pivotal in the Labor Partys 1989 State Election victory and hasdescribed him as a true intellectual, a very intelligent and smart tactician (SundayMail 16 June 1991). Rudd was appointed Director General of the QueenslandOffice of the Cabinet in February 1991. His ascent to the top of the Queenslandstate bureaucracy was rapid and understood to be one of the most meteorical risesin the history of the public service (Courier-Mail 10 December 1994).

    Of the many intergovernmental policy exercises in which he was involved asDirector General of the Office of the Cabinet, the majority were conducted underthe aegis of the Special Premiers Conferences (SPC) and later the Council ofAustralian Governments (COAG). It was through COAG, and from his position asDirector General, that Rudd pursued his vision for a national Asian studies strategy.

    Precursors to the NALSAS Strategy

    Rudds desire for change was driven mainly by dismay at a succession of reportsand policy initiatives that had failed to advance the teaching of Asian studies inschools (see FitzGerald 1978, 1988, 1991; ASAA 1980; ASC 1988, 1991; Garnaut1989; Mahony 1991; Kamada 1994). Notwithstanding significant advances between1986 and 1991, largely a result of the work of the Asian Studies Council (ASC),the place of Asian studies in schools remained precarious. Whereas in 1970 almost40% of final-year students were studying a second language, by 1982 just 16.1%of Year 12 students were studying a second language. The situation had deterio-rated even further by 1992 when the figure fell to 12.5%. Of the total Year 12cohort, only 4% were studying a major Asian language. As a proportion of all Year12 students studying a foreign language, just 16.9% were studying Japanese, 8.9%Chinese (Mandarin) and 4.2% Indonesian).4 Even though this represented anincrease on previous years, the proportion of the total number of students studyingan Asian language remained very small (Rudd 1994):

    Over the course of those twenty-five years very little had been done. Sixteenreports were written over that period of time in which people said it [Asianstudies and languages] was a worthy thing and committed themselves to furtheraction which was never followed through. (Rudd 1997)

    In 1992, consequently, the Queensland government decided to launch its ownproposal for a national Asian studies initiative modelled on Queenslands own

    4 The ASC was a strong advocate for Asian studies and achieved much as a result. Nonetheless, itsvery status as a Commonwealth government body proved a great barrier to achieving its centralobjectives. At the core of the challenge was accomplishing coordination across all educationjurisdictions. In a speech he delivered in the late 1980s the former chair of the ASC, StephenFitzGerald (1988, 14), conceded: As we have seen it is in the schools that a Commonwealth agencyhas most difficulty operating. National education objectives are not easily pursued in such adecentralised system, and the states are very wary of attempts by the Commonwealth to make themfollow the lure of money.

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  • POLICY ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN AUSTRALIA 371

    comprehensive foreign languages program (Goss 1997; Rudd 1997; Peach 19995).Rudd, with the assistance of Premier Goss, who would have to argue a case for theproposal with the other State and Territory Premiers and with Prime MinisterKeating, took the proposal to COAG when it met in Hobart in December 1992. Theproposal was endorsed and Rudd was appointed to chair a Commonwealth-Stateworking group to prepare a report for COAG that developed a strategic frameworkfor the implementation of a comprehensive Asian languages and cultures programin Australian schools (COAG 1992). The report, titled Asian Languages andAustralias Economic Future, was completed early in 1994, distributed to heads ofgovernment and tabled at COAG in February 1994. It was approved pending anagreement on funding (COAG 1994).6

    In accordance with its terms of reference, the Report clearly stated that itsprimary focus was on Asian studies as a means of improving Australias economicinterests in East Asia. It lamented the parlous state of Asian studies in Australia andrecommended a national and comprehensive, school-based program to increaseparticipation in the four Asian languages of greatest economic significance toAustralia: Japanese, Chinese (Mandarin), Indonesian and Korean. It set a numberof participation targets, established a high-level taskforce to coordinate the im-plementation of the Strategy and was costed at A$1442.2 million for the period19952006, a significant investment compared to previous Asian studies programs.A dollar-for-dollar costing arrangement was proposed, whereby the States and theCommonwealth would contribute equally (Rudd 1994).7

    Policy Entrepreneurship: Overcoming Resistance

    With the assistance of Premier Goss, Rudd spent a great deal of time and energyin meetings trying to persuade the Prime Minister and his advisers to support theproposed initiative. To rally the support of the Premiers, Chief Ministers and hiscounterparts on the COAG Senior Officials Steering Committee, Rudd travelled toall the States and Territories. The way in which he persuaded these key decision-makers to adopt and financially support his proposal constitutes the focus of theremainder of this article. It employs the theoretical construct of policy en-trepreneurship as an analytical tool to explore how he overcame considerableCommonwealth departmental resistance to key recommendations of the report, aswell as the tactics and strategies he adopted, the skills and qualities he exhibited,and the entrepreneurial activities in which he engaged to overcome this opposition.

    5 Frank Peach is the former Director General of the Queensland Department of Education. He wasDeputy Director General when the Queensland government was pursuing the NALSAS Strategy.

    6 The Report attracted much criticism. There was concern about its insufficient treatment of theproblems associated with training enough properly qualified language teachers and its inadequateconsideration of pedagogy (Cavalier 1994; Wilson 1995; ALLC 1996; Rizvi 1997). It was alsoderided for understating the difficulties of learning Asian languages and the related issue of optimumcontact hours (Kirkpatrick 1995). However, the most predominant criticism was of the overt economicrationale by which the Report justified the teaching of Asian studies (Cavalier 1994; Lingard 1994;Lo Bianco 1996, 2002; Rizvi 1997).

    7 For example, the Asian Studies Coordinating Committee in 1970 ($1.5 million), the ASC (less than$7 million for five years), the National Policy on Languages ($93 million for three years) and the AsiaEducation Foundation (less than $2 million per year). See also Lo Bianco (2002) and Wilson (1995).

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  • 372 C. MACKENZIE

    The analysis is conducted at two levels. Level One is concerned with the effectof individual characteristics and activities commonly associated with policy en-trepreneurs, according to the literature. They include: innovation and creativity;alertness to opportunity; strategic sensepolicy image and policy venue; networks,trust and credibility; argumentation and persuasion; and, strategic manoeuvres andbargaining. Level Two considers the impact of contextual factors that appear onlyto have been addressed by scholars of policy entrepreneurship in passing, or not atall, but were vital factors in the NALSAS Strategy policy process. These factorswere, first, institutions; second, positional power; and, third, the States andfederalism.

    Innovation and Creativity: Attaching Solutions to Problems (Level One)

    The foremost function of policy entrepreneurship that Rudd fulfilled was to attacha solution to a problem. Policy entrepreneurs, according to Roberts and King (1996,2), are catalysts of innovative change and central to the creative phase of theinnovation process. Creation, they explain, marks the emergence and developmentof an innovative idea, with some need, problem or concern (Roberts and King1996, 7). Similarly, Kingdon (1995, 182) argues that policy entrepreneurs perceivea problem and endeavour to develop a solution. Kingdons entrepreneur hookssolutions to problems. Walker (1981, 85) also refers to policy entrepreneursdevising new ideas and techniques, causing new departures in policy andperforming the crucial matching of problems and solutions, while Bardachs(1972, 5) entrepreneur possesses the qualities of inventiveness and creativity.For Schneider, Teske and Mintrom (1995, 42) the discovery of unfulfilled needsin areas of social and political activity is admittedly important though notnecessarily difficult. Rather it is the development of an effective solution thatrequires significant skill. Finally, as Mintrom (2000, 129) points out, attachingproblems to solutions is the primary function of the policy entrepreneur. Whenselling an idea the entrepreneur needs to carefully explain the nature of theproblem as he or she sees it and, having done this, suggest the kind of innovationthat might address that problem.

    Perceiving what he thought was the parlous state of Asian studies in Australia,Rudd (1994, 17, 95) displayed a key defining characteristic of policy entrepreneur-ship; he identified a problem. And, by pushing his proposal for a national Asianstudies strategy, Rudd also developed a solution; a national approach with associ-ated central coordinating machinery. Moreover, by attaching solutions to theproblems facing Asian studies Rudd also addressed problems associated withforging closer economic integration with East Asia.

    Alertness to Opportunity (Level One)

    Rudd met another criterion of policy entrepreneurship by detecting and exploitingPrime Minister Paul Keatings desire for broad and deep engagement with Asia(Goldsworthy 1997; Ravenhill 1997). While it is not always classified as a principalentrepreneurial quality in the literature, his alertness to the opportunity was,nonetheless, central to understanding the policy process. Baumgartner and Jones(1993, 99) and Schneider et al (1995, 423) emphasise the importance of alertnessto opportunities, but it is Kingdons (1995) work on agenda setting that is

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  • POLICY ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN AUSTRALIA 373

    particularly instructive. In Kingdons Multiple Streams Framework,8 policy win-dows materialise when the problem, solution and political streams converge andcan be joined by the policy entrepreneur. Most often a window opens when thereare changes in the political stream, thus providing entrepreneurs with the chance todefine the problem for decision-makers and push their pet solutions. The politicalstream, according to Kingdon (1995, 1539), is composed of the public mood,pressure group campaigns, election results and changes of administration.

    Rudd and Goss perceived Keatings increasingly frequent pronouncements aboutdeepening Australias links with Asia as an opportunity to push their proposal fora national Asian studies policy. They detected in Keatings Asia rhetoric (Keating1992, 1993; see also Watson 2002) an opportunity to garner Commonwealthfinancial support. Rudd explained that: Both myself and the Premier saw anentrepreneurial opportunity given the PMs repeated statements about Australiaseconomic future in East Asia.9 He and Goss believed the proposal wouldcompliment the current foreign policy trajectory:

    It was our general view that the Prime Minister had carved out a national policydirection of comprehensive engagement with East Asia. We saw this policy asputting flesh on those bones. Therefore it represented a neat fit in terms of apre-determined national policy direction by the Commonwealth. (Rudd 1997)

    Keating also had around him advisers who were sympathetic to the causeindivid-uals who also represented an opportunity to push the proposal. They includedAshton Calvert, whom Keating had appointed as his foreign affairs adviser oncoming to the position of prime minister at the end of 1991, and later, AllanGyngell, appointed in 1993. Keating (2000, 12) later recalled that: While some-what different, Calvert and Gyngell shared common views with me about howAustralia should set itself up in the region and how and where we should point itover the long haul. Keatings chief of staff, Don Russell, and his economicsadviser, John Edwards, were also important in this respect (Edwards 1996). Ruddacknowledged the significance of such figures and recalled that he knew personallymany of the senior players at a political and bureaucratic level and that that wouldbe a temporary window (Rudd 1999).

    Strategic SensePolicy Image (Level One)

    Defining policy proposals in a way that appeals to decision-makers is a vitalactivity of the policy entrepreneur. In the case of the NALSAS Strategy, it wasdecisive. While Schneider et al (1995) have discussed the importance of issue

    8 Kingdons Multiple Streams Framework identifies three distinct process streams in federal govern-ment agenda setting: one, a problem stream consisting of how problems come to be recognised anddefined by policy actors; two, a policy stream involving those who generate policy proposals and themeans by which an alternative is selected; three, a politics stream composed of factors such asnational mood, the current administration, elections and the turnover of policy participants. Thesestreams operate largely independent of each other, except when a window of opportunity opens andallows policy entrepreneurs to join the three streams. If the policy entrepreneur is successful,significant policy change results.

    9 Wayne Goss read the situation as one that provided an opportunity to push for a national strategy.Paul Keating, he explained, was very big on Asia and it fitted in quite neatly to that and we didntmiss the opportunity (Goss 1999).

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  • 374 C. MACKENZIE

    definition, or issue framing, in the context of policy debates in various UnitedStates local government councils, it is Baumgartner and Jones (1993, 26) who haveconducted the most rigorous research and uncovered the truly vital activity ofimage-making. They refer to the definition of a policy, or the way a policy isunderstood and discussed, as its policy image. For policy entrepreneurs it is to thecreation of policy images that they are required to turn their hand; the modificationof the perception of an issue to which they must set their minds. Since policyimages are contested, proponents of a policy will focus on one set of images whileits opponents refer more often to another set of images.

    Rudd crafted his policy image on the powerful grounds that teaching Asianstudies in schools was economically significant.10 Rather than persuade decision-makers to endorse and fund the Strategy for either educational or multiculturalreasons, he defined the Strategy in terms of Australias future economic integrationwith East Asia. Rudd wanted decision-makers to conceive the initiative in terms ofinstrumentalism and economics rather than intellect and education:

    The only way you would get the Prime Minister, Premiers and Treasurers acrossthe nation to address a new priority program on Asian languages and studies wasto articulate the argument in terms of it servicing Australias long-term economicperformance and not as an expression of a pre-existing policy of multiculturalism.I think part of the objection of the Report was not so much its content, but [that]its terms of reference firmly established that linkage with economic requirements.(Rudd 1997)

    By adopting this approach Rudd shifted the dimension of the policy debate andbuilt a powerful policy image (see Wilson 1995, 98). This discursive methodol-ogy, he maintains, was mobilised to gain the support needed from central agencyofficials and heads of government, especially the Prime Minister.

    Strategic SensePolicy Venue (Level One)

    Rudds strategic senseand thus his entrepreneurial skillwas also demonstratedby his decision to use COAG as the primary policy-making institution throughwhich to push his initiative. Institutions such as COAG are policy venues, aphrase used by Baumgartner and Jones (1993, 25) to describe forums whereauthoritative decisions are made. Policy venues are closely related to the policyimage metaphor. Federal systems of government provide particularly fertile soil forthe growth of policy venues as a result of multiple legislatures and levels ofgovernment, policy committees, councils and numerous intergovernmental forums.In these venues, policy innovations can be initiated and pursued. Federalismprovides opportunities for strategically minded policy entrepreneurs to shop for themost favourable locus for their policies Baumgartner and Jones (1993, 25) notethat some types of image may be well accepted in one venue, but considered

    10 This claim was also supported by Senior DEET official A (1999) and by Senior Queensland Officeof the Cabinet official (1999). The latter stated that Rudd was attempting to gain the acceptance thatthis was something that COAG needed to focus on as a major element of an economic strat-egy once it was seen in this broader light then acceptance came more readily it was seen as amajor economic reform, rather than just a reform in the education system (Senior Queensland Officeof the Cabinet official 1999).

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  • POLICY ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN AUSTRALIA 375

    inappropriate when raised in another institutional arena. Hence, policy en-trepreneurs search for policy venues sympathetic to the images they have created.

    In Australia, policy venues include Federal and State legislatures, the courts,some statutory authorities and parliamentary committees (Wettenhall 1985; Chap-man 1988). The cooperative imperative of the federal system means that there alsoexists a number of intergovernmental policy venues, such as Ministerial Councilsand their associated officials committees (Hede 1993). COAG is also a policyvenue established to facilitate CommonwealthState collaboration on issues ofnational economic significance (Edwards and Henderson 1995; Painter 1998), andit is this aspect of its nature that is important. To be sure, given that he had craftedan economically orientated policy image, Rudd was convinced that, instead ofchannelling the reform through the relevant Ministerial Education Council (thelogical policy venue through which to pursue educational reform), it should bepushed through COAG. Using this strategy meant that he could appeal directly toCOAGs national economic-reform charter. Having the proposal considered andendorsed by COAG was a significant achievement. Indeed, COAG was a highlyunusual forum through which to pursue the proposal, given that it dealt almostexpressly with matters of national economic reform.

    A further and possibly more critical factor that prompted Rudd to drive hisproposal through COAG was the Councils superior political power, and thus itscapacity to overcome resistance, which, if met at the Ministerial Council level, mayhave precluded a satisfactory outcome.11 In what was really a reaction to the sheerfrustration associated with attempts to advance Asian studies through the relevantministerial council, especially since 1992, Rudd decided to push his proposalthrough COAG:

    If you wanted an expeditious outcome and a capacity for it to be agreed andimplemented it was the only show in town. If you wanted to play games with itand make it into a perennial process until we all grew old, there were plenty ofother forums in town to do that . By getting the premiers and the PrimeMinister on board you are almost there. (Rudd 1999)

    In the literature references to the careful targeting of politically powerful decision-makers are not ubiquitous. However, Bardach (1972, 10) endows us with someuseful insights. He asserts that one of the main problems facing the entrepreneuris to identify the number and type of interests that will support his proposal. Policyentrepreneurs must engage in ascertaining the disposition of the various interestswho might support them; and assessing how weighty their views are among therelevant authorities.12

    11 See Spaull (1987) and Ramsey (1991) on the Australian Education Council and its inability to makeprogress. For a view on how COAG can overcome these limitations, see Weller (1996) and Painter(1998).12 Rudds view was supported by a senior Queensland Cabinet Office official who explained that theNALSAS Strategy proposal needed to be lifted out of the day-to-day participants in the educationfield What Asian languages tried to achieve was a quantum shift in them [Asian studies]. Thereforeit necessarily flowed into a different level. COAG was at that time seen as a useful vehicle for pushingthings through or getting change in certain areas (Senior Queensland Office of the Cabinet official1999). This account was also confirmed by the former Director General of the QueenslandDepartment of Education, Frank Peach (1999), and by Senior DPM&C officials A and B (1999).

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    Networks, Trust and Credibility (Level One)

    Access to a broad network of professional contacts is a vital resource for policyentrepreneurs. It was also crucial for Rudd in the context of the NALSAS Strategypolicy process. For instance, according to Bardach (1972, 219), the resources thata policy entrepreneur requires to market a proposalthat is, to persuade decision-makers to accept a proposal and resist any oppositioninclude an extensive andcarefully nurtured set of interpersonal contacts. Moreover, in his discussion ofpolicy actors developing ideas and solutions in the policy stream, Kingdon (1995,117) argues that policy community members know each others ideas, proposals,and research, and often know each other very well personally. Schneider et al(1995, 58) also proffer that, like their counterparts in the private sector, publicsector entrepreneurs also rely on networks, making repeated use of contacts theyhave established over the course of years of professional and political activities.Trust, reputation and credibility in networks is also important for entrepreneurs toachieve their goals, according to Schneider et al (1995, 17584). Mintrom (2000,126) also asserts that a well-developed set of social and professional contacts canmake the difference between success and failure in the launch of an innovation.According to Mintrom (2000, 214), policy entrepreneurs must also strive todemonstrate their own credibility and trustworthiness as sellers of their ideas.

    The evidence indicates that a collection of strategically placed contacts aidedRudds cause. These were personal and professional relationships developed overa period of time. A senior Queensland government official explained how Ruddscontact network affected the policy process:

    He had both the background, the intellectual capacity and profile nationally interms of his counterparts in other bureaucracies, plus key contacts in the politicalworld, if you like, which enabled the thing to be driven, and driven very, veryhard he had a good profile which gave him the credibility with which to drivethe policy through. (Senior Queensland Office of the Cabinet official 1999)

    Rudd conceded that he had some good, solid contacts at the Commonwealth levelwhich he saw as an opportunity to push his proposal: I knew personally many ofthe senior players at a political and bureaucratic level and that that would be atemporary window (Rudd 2001). He had developed relationships with many of theadvisers to Prime Minister Keating, and to his predecessor Prime Minister Hawke.According to Rudd, with some there was a reasonable working relationship. I wasnot an unknown figure walking through the door, but it would be wrong to say wewere drinking mates (Rudd 1999).13

    Argumentation and Persuasion (Level One)

    The ability to argue persuasively is a vital skill that every policy entrepreneur mustpossess. In terms of the NALSAS Strategy, Rudds capacity to argue a persuasivecase for change was effectively displayed. For Baumgartner and Jones (1993, 29),argumentation is at the heart of the political process and an essential politicalweapon in the efforts of policy entrepreneurs to manipulate political debates.

    13 See Painter (1998) and Weller (1996) for an insight to the Premier/adviser working relationshipsin COAG and the Senior Officials Steering Committee.

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    Bardach (1972, 5) concurs, since obtaining consensus from authoritative decision-makers for a proposal necessarily involves argumentation. In his study of policyentrepreneurship, Mintrom (2000, 272) also claims that the critical determinants oflegislative consideration appear to have been the strength of the arguments madeby policy entrepreneurs and the number of influential people to whom thesearguments could be presented (see also Kingdon 1995, 12631).

    Rudd employed his skills of argumentation to convince heads of government andthe Senior Officials Steering Committee that there were indeed serious problemswith the teaching of Asian studies in Australia. He successfully persuaded them toaccept that there was an economic performance/linguistic skill nexus and arguedthat his initiative would not only alleviate these problems but would also assistAustralias engagement with Asia. They also accepted his designation of fourpriority languages for future expansion and his case for mandating the study of asecond language.

    Rudd used various sources of empirical evidence to buttress and fortify hisarguments, of which the most persuasive was the Report Asian Languages andAustralias Economic Future. The findings of numerous other reviews and inquirieswere also contained in the Report (ASC 1988; Garnaut 1989; Valverde 1990; Leal1991; ALP 1993) which, when combined, represented a suite of robust policyarguments. Jack Walkers (1981) work on the diffusion of policy innovationswithin and between communities of experts is instructive in this case. Walkerargues that, when a body of research emerges providing clear justification for theuse of a given solution , an opportunity exists to break traditional patterns witha dramatic proposal for change (Walker 1981, 91; see also Mintrom 2000, 273).In this process the policy entrepreneur is vital.

    Strategic Manoeuvres and Bargaining (Level One)

    While Rudd managed to convince COAG that his prescription for change waswarranted, a number of Commonwealth officials from the Department of PrimeMinister and Cabinet (DPM&C) and the Department of Education, Employmentand Training (DEET) refused to accept his case. As Kingdon (1995, 127) concedes,Superior argumentation does not always carry the day, to be sure. According toRudd, Commonwealth officials wanted to modify the shape and focus of the Reportto minimise the Commonwealths funding commitment. He recalls that at theoperational level within the Commonwealth we encountered a fair bit of resistance,initially from the DPM&C and DEET (Rudd 1997). A Queensland EducationDepartment official involved in the policy process also confirmed the blockingstrategy employed by the these agencies:

    What appeared to us as we went through the process was that every time we puta position the Commonwealth was coming back with a counter position thatdidnt seem to be based on anything other than simply blocking progress. (SeniorQueensland Department of Education official 1999)

    For instance, DPM&C questioned whether investing in a languages program wouldnecessarily improve the competitiveness of Australian business and industry oper-ating in East Asia, despite recognising the importance of the region to Australiaseconomic interests (Senior DPM&C official B 1999; see also ALLC 1994, 1996;Cavalier 1994). There was opposition to making compulsory the study of a second

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    language in schools, even though most States and Territory governments weremoving in this direction, and a view that English was the growing language ofinternational trade (Senior DEET official A 1999; Senior DEET official B 1999;Senior DPM&C official A 1999; see also Cavalier 1994). Finally, the initiative wasopposed on the grounds that it would impose an unacceptable financial burden onthe Commonwealth. This was perhaps the greatest Commonwealth concern (Cava-lier 1997; Senior DEET official A 1999; Senior Queensland Education Departmentofficial 1999; Rudd 1999).

    To overcome this resistance, Rudd employed various tactics to outmanoeuvre hisopponents. There were two principal ways that he did this. The first was byconducting his negotiations with the Commonwealth at two different levels: withDEET and DPM&C at the bureaucratic level, and the Prime Ministers Office(PMO) at the political level. Throughout the period during which the Report waswritten, Rudd briefed the PMO, kept it continually advised and won tacit approvalfor his initiative. When it became clear that what DEET and DPM&C wereproposing was inconsistent with the original objectives of the Report, particularlythe funding levels, Rudd asked the PMO to intervene. The relevant departmentswere subsequently directed to cooperate and allow the proposal free passage, withall the original objectives intact, including the funding. For good reason, Rudd wasmuch more open with the PMO about what he wanted in respect of the NALSASStrategy than he was with the departmental officials:14

    If you were frank with PM&C at the bureaucratic level about that earlier, theywould see what they could do to undermine you in the policy negotiations. Assoon as they got wind of what we were up to we had already developed areasonable head of steam. Its far easier to strangle these things at birth than afterthey have rocked along for a while. (Rudd 1999)

    Strategic manoeuvring does not figure prominently in the literature on policyentrepreneurship. However, according to Bardach (1972, 237), keeping a proposalsecret from ones likely enemies can prove very effective, since it is assumed thata proposal in its incubation period is unusually vulnerable to attack by itsopponents. The parallels here are obvious. This also represents fertile ground onwhich to speculate about the potential influence Rudd had with the PMO as a resultof his active role in the Australian Labor Party.

    The second means by which Rudd outmanoeuvred his detractors was by strikinga deal with the Prime Minister, a bargain made with crucial assistance from WayneGoss. For Bardach (1972), the role of bargaining is seen as a crucial function ofthe policy entrepreneur. According to Bardach (1972, 206), the capacity to strikea bargain is necessary because some will not find in persuasion, whether reason-able or rhetorical, sufficient incentives to come out in support of the proposal (seealso Eyestone 1978, 94; Kingdon 1995, 183).

    In the early 1990s, Prime Minister Keating pursued a range of mutuallyreinforcing policy initiatives, two of which were the establishment of much closerties with East Asia and domestic microeconomic reform (Edwards 1996, 519;Watson 2002). The details surrounding the deal between Goss and Rudd andKeating are somewhat unclear. The extent to which Commonwealth funding for the

    14 An interview with Senior DPM&C official A (1999) confirmed that this was indeed the case.

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    NALSAS Strategy actually hinged on a bargain also remains uncertain. Nonethe-less, the evidence leaves little doubt that Keating agreed to fund the Strategy notjust to facilitate his commitment to closer relations with Asia but also to encourageQueensland to cooperate on a number of other COAG agenda items.15 This claimis supported by Rudd and one of Keatings advisory staff. The latter explained that,although Keatings decision to fund the Strategy was overwhelmingly dictated byhis agenda for Australias engagement with Asia, there were other COAG relatedmatters on which he required Queenslands support (Policy Adviser, PMO 1998).Rudd16 conceded that:

    I think broadly thats correct everyone has stakes, everyone has objectives torealise; there is a common denominator underpinning most initiatives, a highdegree of policy rationality and different levels of political pain and discomfortassociated with each of them. (Rudd 1999)

    In terms of intergovernmental policy-making in the Australian federal system,deal-making and bargaining is indeed the norm rather than the exception (Chapman1988, 101). COAG was subject to the same political horse-trading and bargainingwhich is such an inextricable feature of policy making in a federation (Edwards andHenderson 1995, 24; Painter 1998, 40).

    Institutions (Level Two)

    The Level Two analysis begins with consideration of the influence of institutionson the NALSAS Strategy policy process and the actions of Rudd. Institutionsalmost always play a critical role in the policy process (March and Olsen 1989;Considine 1994). However, the behaviourist nature of many studies of policyentrepreneurship means institutions are rarely considered. While the impact ofinstitutions may be acknowledged in some accounts, analysis of how, why, and towhat degree they affect the actions of the policy entrepreneur usually lacks depth.This is important because, in terms of the NALSAS Strategy, two particular policyinstitutions were instrumentalthe Office of the Cabinet, the institution in whichRudd was situated and from where he launched the proposal, and COAG, theintergovernmental institution through which Rudd chose to negotiate the proposal.Rudd employed both to bring the political weight of the Prime Minister andPremiers behind the initiative in order to push it through.

    In discussions about policy entrepreneurship by Walker (1981) and Roberts andKing (1996), the impact of institutions is not considered, despite there being somescope to do so. Nor is their effect addressed by Kingdon (1995), who perceivesthem neither to be important vehicles for change nor as mediating forces in theeveryday activities of policy entrepreneurs. However, there is good reason for this.As Edella Schlager (1999, 248) points out, Kingdons Multiple Streams Frame-

    15 The chair of the ALLC, Rodney Cavalier, claimed: In the nature of politics and the best traditionsof Commonwealth-State relations, there was a quid pro quo, and the quid pro quo was nationalcompetition in the utilities And the Queensland conditions for signing-off on that was the NationalAsian Languages Strategy (Cavalier 1997). A Commonwealth Minister at the time also confirmedthat there were other Council issues for which Keating needed Gosss support it was a quid proquo (Commonwealth Minister 1998).16 Rudd added the caveat that he felt the deal was an element in the equation, but by no means evena major, let alone a dominant element in the equation (Rudd 1999).

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    work, for example, is rooted firmly in the behaviourist tradition of political scienceand is, consequently, more or less an institution-free approach to understanding thepolicy process (see also Zahariadis 1999, 89). Schlager also points out that, evenin the work of Baumgartner and Jones (1993), where it would appear institutionsfeature prominently, they are conceptualized at a relatively gross level. OnlyMintrom (2000, 118) gives institutional structures the attention they most probablydeserve, arguing that the context in which the policy process takes place influencesthe choices of policy entrepreneurs seeking favourable policy venues.

    COAG played an influential role in the policy process because of its nationaleconomic reform agenda, its sheer political power and thus its capacity to fast-trackRudds proposal. It was a powerful policy venue and sympathetic to the economicpolicy image that Rudd crafted. The Office of the Cabinet was also a vitalcomponent in the policy process since it provided a conduit for the Queenslandgovernment to COAG (Davis 1995, 1998), and thereby provided Rudd with directaccess to his colleagues on the Senior Officials Steering Committee and the headsof government. The demonstrated impact of these institutions exposes weaknessesin the analysis of policy entrepreneurship by some of its principal exponents,several of which have been identified by Schlager (1999, 248). First, it shows howState-based policy venues may affect policy change and the actions of policyentrepreneurs, and thereby employ the often powerful mediating effects of federal-ism. Second, in bearing out the relationship between the Office of the Cabinet andCOAG, the analysis exposes real and vital connections between policy venues andhow such connections can impact on the activities of policy entrepreneurs and theirinnovations. Third, the research demonstrates that some policy venues are morepivotal than others.

    Positional Power (Level Two)

    In a study of the location and exercise of power in organisations, Pfeffer (1992, 75,76) observes that power comes from the control over resources and from theformal authority one obtains because of ones position in the hierarchy. He alsoargues that power is sourced from the ties one has to powerful others. Of thescholars to have engaged with the subject of policy entrepreneurs, few haveconsidered the effect of hierarchical power on their activities and prospects ofproducing change. Kingdon (1995), Schneider et al (1995) and Mintrom andVergari (1998) touch on the issue but do not pursue it as a priority. However, asa result of extensive research on policy innovation and policy entrepreneurshipusing Kingdons Multiple Streams Framework, Nikoloas Zahariadis (1999; see alsoZahariadis 1992, 1995) argues that the matter of entrepreneurial position is onethat needs to be taken seriously. Zahariadis (1999, 84) observed that: Entrepreneu-rial position is very important in coupling the streams. Well-connected andpersistent entrepreneurs are more likely to be successful at coupling becausehigher administrative or partisan rank increases access and potential influence overdecision makers.

    This research demonstrates that the positions of officials, especially those ofsenior status and the power commensurate with that status, are factors of criticalsignificance. This can be seen in Rudds position as Director General of theQueensland Office of the Cabinet, a position that not only ranked him the mostpowerful bureaucrat in the State but enabled him to lead Queenslands official-level

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    negotiations with the Commonwealth and other State and Territory governments.He was thereby accorded access to key Commonwealth, State and Territorydecision makers, and thus had the leverage required to achieve his vision. In theCabinet Office and the intergovernmental forum COAG, Rudd was, as Zahariadisobserved, allowed access and potential influence over decision makers.

    Complementing his positional power was the political nature of the position andhis close proximity to the very centre of power in Queensland, the Cabinet andPremier, Wayne Goss. Of course Rudd was a leading figure in the Queenslandbranch of the Australian Labor Party and, as noted previously, instrumental inLabors 1989 State Election win. In many respects he was a political extension ofthe Premier (Wiltshire 1992; Laffin 1997; Painter 1998). Moreover, in addition tothe conducive nature of their formal relationship, Goss and Rudd enjoyed a closepersonal relationship. As Goss remarked: We developed not just a good workingrelationship, but importantly we developed a good friendship and he is still a goodfriend (Goss 1999).17 Pfeffers postulation that closeness to powerful others is avital source of positional power is most apt in this case.

    The States and Federalism (Level Two)

    The NALSAS Strategy appears to be unusual in terms of national policy-makingbecause it was proposed and driven through the policy process by a Stategovernment. National education policies have historically been pursued by theCommonwealth due to its charter to act in the national interest and because it hasthe financial capacity to do so. This is not insignificant in terms of the NALSASStrategy policy process and its final outcome, for it meant that many of the tensionswhich usually accompany national proposals were minimised. It was not a case ofthe Commonwealth attempting to gain a foothold (by the power of the purse) in anarea of State government responsibility. In this case the suspicion that wouldnormally accompany such an initiative was considerably reduced:

    When the Commonwealth initiates a policy initiative through any of the federalmechanisms it is usually greeted with biological (sic!) suspicion on the part of theStates, given their historical experience of what the negotiation inevitably means,irrespective of its policy worth. Thats the first point. Secondly, is the corollarytherefore, that if a State is to initiate a national measure then the traditionalhostility is ameliorated, not removed, ameliorated. (Rudd 1999)

    Rudds standpoint on the benefits of State initiation in terms of the minimisationof States hostility is supported by a senior Commonwealth official who concededthat, if the Commonwealth had have proposed it, it would have met with a lotmore resistance (Senior DPM&C official A 1997). A Queensland official too,observed that being driven by Queensland had a very unifying effect. During the

    17 This close professional and personal relationship conferred on Rudd considerable discretionarypower and a degree of flexibility and movement when it came to negotiating initiatives carried outin the SPC and COAG process. Painter (1998, 69) has observed that, in terms of SPC and COAG,the closeness of some of the relationships between leaders and chief central agency advisors providedthe driving force: In some cases, this rested on the personal authority that these officials carried astrusted advisers of their Premier or Prime Minister-they spoke with the latters authority as well astheir own.

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    preparation of the Report, this was particularly the case since the States andTerritories were unusually forthcoming with costing and other necessary details(Senior Queensland Education Department official 1999).

    The research shows that constitutional arrangements affect the type of interactionbetween the member-states of a federation, and thereby the capacity of policyentrepreneurs to pursue policy change. However, there is very little in the literatureon policy entrepreneurs that recognises if and how ones location in federalarrangements influences the policy entrepreneurs activities. As Zahariadis (1999,89) postulates, multiple levels of government and their interaction, or specificconstitutional arrangements is not systematically explored.

    Final Reflections

    This article shows that Rudd demonstrated many of the characteristics of a policyentrepreneur but that his actions were mediated by the context in which heoperated. It also provides insights to how the concept of policy entrepreneurship,developed for application in one context, can be applied in another to make senseof specific policy/political phenomena.

    Kevin Rudd conformed to many of the defining criteria of a policy entrepreneur.The article shows how he engaged in entrepreneurial activity in order to have hispolicy proposal endorsed and funded. However, it also shows that the policycontext in which he operated both limited and enabled his actions. The resistanceof the Commonwealth represented forces that potentially limited his agency whilethe existence of powerful policy-making institutions, his positioning within them,and the nature of the Australian federal system assisted him in his plight.

    In somewhat more abstract terms, it can feasibly be argued that public policy isthe outcome of the interplay of individual and contextual factors. That is, whilerecognising that policy entrepreneurs do have an influence over policy outcomes,the scale of their influence is heavily mediated by environmental factors. Acceptingthat the policy entrepreneur is constrained, though not determined, the policyentrepreneur is seen as a strategic political actor, one who identifies opportunitiesfor promoting innovations in a complex policy environment and who perceivescourses of action from within and among existing contextual arrangements. In thisway, policy entrepreneurs negotiate their way in the world conscious of thelimitations imposed by their context, but are vigilant of the ways and means ofovercoming them (see also Simeon 1976; Hawker et al 1979; Lindblom andWoodward 1993).

    Besides Mintrom (2000), few have devoted adequate attention to consideringboth policy entrepreneurs characteristics and the contexts in which they operate.Mintrom, then, is somewhat unique. He insightfully suggests that the policymilieux in which policy entrepreneurs are located affect their actions. Indeed, themilieu shapes the opportunities and the actions open to policy entrepreneurs, butnot in a deterministic fashion. Instead, Mintrom (2000, 123) prefers to think aboutthe effects of context in terms of tendencies. Thus, by analysing the characteris-tics of a given milieu, we can form some expectations about the possible role thatpolicy entrepreneurs might play in generating support for specific policy innova-tions. Hugh Heclos (1974, 4) work is useful in this case: Policy acquires meaningbecause an observer perceives and interprets a course of action amid the confusionof a complex world. Individuals decide a course of action based on their

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    interpretation of the current institutional landscape and the degree to which it mayassist or inhibit the pursuit of their objectives.

    Using the concept of policy entrepreneurship to analyse the NALSAS Strategypolicy process paves the way for further studies in a contemporary Australiancontext. It shows that analytical frameworks developed for use in one policy/politi-cal system can be applied in others. One could speculate, however, that the conceptof policy entrepreneurship as an investigative device may be more useful forstudies in countries with federal systems of government. The multiplicity of policyforums present in a federation provide policy entrepreneurs with more avenuesthrough which to pursue their innovations. This is not to suggest that it would notprove a useful explanatory tool in unitary states, but that it may be a more powerfulmode of inquiry in federal ones.

    The findings of the research suggest that contextual factors may be understatedin other studies of policy entrepreneurship. This provides grounds for the claimthat, in the process of applying policy entrepreneurship in a contemporary Aus-tralian setting, the concept may not only have been reformulated but strengthened.In its reconstituted form the concept may now be an even more powerful analyticaltool.

    This research forms a foundation for further inquiry, providing guidelines forusing policy entrepreneurship as a means of understanding other contemporaryAustralian instances of policy making. Policy entrepreneurship could feasibly beemployed to analyse further episodes of policy making through SPC and COAG,as well as other policy actors including, public service officials at both State andCommonwealth level (for example H.C. Nugget Coombs (see Rowse 2002)),Ministerial advisory staff, and legislative actors such as Ministers and members ofparliament.

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