Thesis Proposal Review Day 2017

Light painting of the word 'Thesis'

Event details

PhD Seminar

Date & time

Tuesday 10 October 2017


Seminar Room 1.13, Coombs Extension Building (8), Fellows Road, ANU
ANU Canberra




+61 (0) 2 1625 0647

RegNet PhD scholars present their thesis proposals to their supervisors, peers and other RegNet scholars.

For catering purposes please RSVP with any dietary requirements by 6 October


  • 9.10am: Welcome and introductions
  • 9.20am: Lisa Buffinton
  • 10.10am: Felicity Gray
  • 11.00am: Morning tea
  • 11.10am: Janice Lee
  • 12.00pm: Lunch
  • 12.30pm: Dori Patay
  • 1.20pm: Heidi Tyedmers
  • 2.10pm: Afternoon tea
  • 2.20pm: Mary Ivec
  • 3.10pm: Johan Van Der Walt
  • 4.00pm: Final remarks and close


Lisa Buffington

Generating debate: Appraising industrial use of Expert Consultants to resist public health-serving regulations. (Master of Philosophy (Regulation & Governance) thesis)

Alcohol consumption in Australia is widespread and typically socially-acceptable. With its prevalence comes its cost: alcohol-related disease and injury pose significant public health burdens borne by governments and the economy at large. Many and varied stakeholders have an interest in alcohol regulation, including firms who trade in alcohol.

Publicly-released submissions to regulators reveal that alcohol retailers have resisted harm prevention policies which restrict the availability and promotion of alcohol. The firms commissioned Expert Consultants to critique extant research associating these practices with harms to the consumer and others. This Masters project studies how and why private industries use Expert Consultants with a view to influencing regulatory outcomes.

This project will focus on one liquor retailer who used Expert Consultants to exchange targeted information with regulatory authorities. Policy-makers and independent researchers will benefit from understanding how firms avoid accountability for harmful externalities associated with their operations. Inaction on this issue may hinder progress on the prevention of alcohol harms.

Felicity Gray

Non-violent action and the prevention and de-escalation of armed conflict

How is non-violent action mobilised to prevent, de-escalate and resolve armed conflict? Though we know that non-violent tactics can be effective in overcoming armed conflict (Chenoweth and Stephan 2011), there have been few studies that consider how non-violence is instrumentalised as a strategy in armed conflict outside of the context of popular uprising and revolution. This is despite the fact that we are seeing a conversation around non-violence re-emerge among a range of actors.

The purpose of this thesis is to question how different actors define, articulate and promote non-violence in conflict settings, with particular reference to unarmed civilian peacekeeping. The research will look at who the relevant actors are; the key factors driving their commitment to non-violence as a strategy; the perceptions of affected actors, particularly local actors in conflict zones; and explore whether there is a gap between non-violence as policy-on-the-books versus policy-in-action.

This qualitative research employs multi-sited ethnography and socio-legal analysis to provide a better understanding of how non-violence shapes the prevention and resolution of conflict and how this principle and those promoting it succeed or fail to achieve their objectives.

Janice Lee

Regulating human behaviour through Income Management: impacts on health equity

Since the 1970s, economic shocks have increased youth and long-term unemployment globally. OECD countries responded to the unemployment crisis by adopting activation measures to help the unemployed find jobs and participate in the labour market, inevitably bringing back labour market policies to the centre stage of welfare policies. Australia has adopted the Activation measures into its welfare reform by:
1) intensifying the surveillance of welfare benefits;
2) increasing conditionality and eligibility criteria for those on welfare benefits; and
3) decreasing the real value of the material welfare offered by income support in the face of rising living cost.

As part of the activation measures in enforcing conditionality, Australia introduced Compulsory Income Management as a conditional cash transfer policy that required certain individuals on income support to quarantine a portion of their welfare fund to pay for basic necessities. So far, the activation measures are focused on efficiency and cost-effectiveness while the notion of justice, equity, and effectiveness have receded.

Increasing welfare conditionality and surveillance may result in unintended consequences on people’s health. Therefore, this project will focus on Compulsory Income Management as a regulatory instrument of the Activation regime in governing human behaviour. Using a qualitative approach, this project will study the experiences of welfare recipients placed on Income Management and explore how it affects their health and wellbeing.

Dori Patay

Strengthening the governance of the commercial determinants of NCDs: the case study of tobacco

A rapid rise in the premature deaths caused by non-communicable diseases (NCDs) marks the global burden of disease. 70% of all deaths around the world happen because of NCDs, and the quickest increase is happening in low- and low-middle income economies, where an astounding 13-14% growth in mortality due to NCDs was shown between 2000 and 2015 (WHO Global Health Observatory, 2017).

“Through the sale and promotion of tobacco, alcohol, and ultra-processed food and drink (unhealthy commodities), transnational corporations are major drivers of global epidemics of NCDs” (Moodie, 2013), and the majority of global health authors agree that addressing the commercial determinants of health is crucial in controlling the surge of NCDs (Friel et al., 2017; Collin, et al., 2017; WHO, 2017; Kickbusch, 2015). However it remains unclear what makes the governance of commercial determinants of NCDs successful or how should they be better governed.

Therefore this research is set to discover the pathways to strengthen the governance of commercial determinants of NCDs by (1) defining wat makes them successful, and what conditions are needed to be met to attain it; (2) collecting indicators through what the fulfilment of each condition can be assessed and measured in tobacco control governance; and finally by (3) developing a method through what the assessment can be applied in the strengthening initiatives of governance of the commercial determinants of NCDs for tobacco control.

Heidi Tyedmers

Navigating Culture as Regulation, Gender, and Human Rights in Vanuatu: Mobilising Critical Cosmopolitanism in a Post Colonial Pacific State

Even in the more expansive context of responsive, ‘smarter’ and decentred regulation, culture has had limited explicit treatment in regulatory theory, featuring simply as background, or mobilized in fairly uncritical ways. Framed around a consideration of culture as regulation in the context of Vanuatu – a highly diverse and fairly young post-colonial Pacific nation – this project seeks to explore culture more deeply through a regulatory lens.

A recent upsurge and expansion of cultural discourse (often glossed as ‘kastom’) in the life of the state in Vanuatu provides a particularly fertile environment for looking more closely at some of the contours and elements of this culture as regulation – and its impact on the lives of citizens. The first part of this project will consider culture as regulation within the context of Vanuatu, tracing the articulation, enactment and experiences of ‘kastom’ through various actors and sites across time and space.

The second part of the project will move to a deeper consideration of the intersectional impacts and implications that this culture as regulation has on issues of gender and human rights – and the every day, embodied lives of young women in particular – in contemporary Vanuatu.

In the final part of this project, an alternative approach to these complex and highly contested issues of culture, gender and human rights will be envisioned and explored, through consideration of the transformative possibilities offered by a more rooted, dialogical and critical cosmopolitanism.

Mary Ivec

Relational Regulation, Regulatory Capture and the space in-between: Industrial Chemical Regulation in Australia

Relational regulation governs rather than closes the regulatory compliance gap (Huising & Silbey 2011). Rather than management systems per se, it is relational regulation or the apprehension and mobilization of interdependencies that achieves regulatory compliance (Huising & Silbey 2011). As a mechanism, relational regulation has been described as a more ambitious form of responsiveness (Coslovsky 2011).

Operating in a complex regulatory and technical environment, the Australian industrial chemicals regulator known as NICNAS, (National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme), assesses the introduction of new chemicals imported and manufactured in Australia. Current deregulation based reforms will see the number of industrial chemicals subject to pre-introduction assessment decrease by over 70%, with pre-introduction assessments dropping from around 3% of all new chemicals to 0.3%.

This study will explore NICNAS’s 27 year history and regulatory culture and whether in the face of current reforms, relational regulation might have something to offer to ensure publicly valuable regulatory outcomes resonate with society’s interests (Ellis, J. 2017).

Johan Van Der Walt

The shift to tax transparency: transformation of the traditional tax paradigm and its impact.

The OECD calls it a “tax transparency revolution.” It is fundamentally transforming the traditional tax paradigm and will have a huge impact on actors in the taxation regulatory community. The source and residency bases of taxation are dysfunctional in the era of globalisation. Corporates and HNWI’s stand accused of “tax aggressiveness” and “tax dodging.” Tax activism and the proliferation of tax information turn all and sundry into “tax inspectors.” Whereas earlier the tax obligation was primarily law-based, the emphasis is now on its moral and ethical dimensions. Everyone must pay a “fair share” of tax. Tax confidentiality is being eroded and there is a clamour for the public disclosure of tax returns, despite concerns about privacy and commercial confidentiality. Tax transparency is seen as a panacea in the international tax domain. The focus is on the “positives” of transparency.

The project will, through qualitative research, analyse the shift to tax transparency by firstly, evaluating the transformation of the traditional tax paradigm and, secondly, by inquiring from actors in the domestic taxation regulatory community how they experience the developing new paradigm and its impact on their business models (including any “negatives” they foresee).

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet