Regulatory trust and failure – a case study of coal seam gas in New South Wales, Australia
Regulatory failure occurs in diverse and complex circumstances, especially in environmental regulation. The response of policy-makers and regulators to regulatory failure often follows a predictable pattern, with the imposition of increased prescriptive regulatory approaches. This phenomenon has been described as regulatory pendulum swing. If the regulatory failure causes immediate and obvious harm to people or the environment such an approach may be appropriate. However, where the community loses trust in regulatory regimes where harm is less evident, a response of this nature may do little to restore trust. This research examined a case study of coal seam gas regulation in New South Wales, Australia, using a regulatory trust typology. The typology's dimensions of expertise, stewardship and transparency provided a useful framework to understand regulatory failure and regulatory trust, and for evaluating the responses of policy-makers and regulators to public concerns over coal seam gas development.