Australia has a colourful history of celebratory events and Australian governments, which operate within a three tiered, democratic, capitalist oriented system of government, are increasingly utilising festivals and events as vehicles for the development of economic and socio-cultural capital. Consequently, from the 1980's onwards, the nation has witnessed the emergence of a socially and economically significant event industry
As a result of this higher profile being afforded to the event industry, all three levels of Australian government are endeavouring to produce public policies pertaining to the development of events in an attempt to facilitate their potential as a platform for industry and economic development (Burgan & Mules, 2000; Yeoman, Robertson, Ali-Knight, Drummond & McMahon-Beattie, 2004). Thus, events are increasingly becoming an integral and essential component of many regions' strategic planning, development, tourism and leisure policies. Indeed, the growing number of events taking place in rural and peripheral communities (Higham & Ritchie, 2001) are increasingly playing a central, economic, social and political role (Alomes, 1985) as local governments seek to develop and implement policies which facilitate and encourage the staging of events in their local community.
Therefore, the significance of effective event policy developed by local governments must not be underestimated as contemporary events continue to facilitate development in a host region (Alston, 1998). The literature (Reynolds, 1988; Craik, 1990; Hall & Jenkins, 1995; Hall, Jenkins & Kearsley, 1997; Aulich, 1999) suggests that the growth and development of local communities and concurrently community events have to date, been largely dependent upon the policies and or initiatives of local government. Yet, there has been little research undertaken to determine the effectiveness and consequences of local government policies (Formica, 1998) despite the claim by Hall, Jenkins & Kearsley (1997) that in studying tourism and arguably events, we not only need to know how, where and what tourism planners such as governments did, but who did it and why.
Thus, the purpose of this qualitative study was to undertake a critical analysis of public policies produced by nineteen local governments constituting the South East Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils [SEQROC], located in the South East comer of Queensland Australia. In particular, the study sought to determine the extent to which local government event policy could facilitate regional development. To achieve this, the following three objectives were developed. First, to develop a catalogue of SEQROC event policies published from 1974 to 2004, second, to identify and map the SEQROC event policy community and third, to identify the development paradigms underpinning SEQROC event policies.
The critical interpretive analysis of 219 SEQROC policies revealed that overall, from 1974-2004, there has been a disparate approach to the development of event policy by the nineteen SEQROC governments. Importantly, the majority of the 219 SEQROC policies were not event specific policies and thus demonstrated little recognition to the potential of events as a vehicle for regional growth and development. Therefore, in an attempt to address this issue, the study has presented a conceptual framework for the development of event policy. Fundamentally, the conceptual framework suggests that local government should adopt an entrepreneurial approach to developing regionally integrated event policy. Moreover, regionally appropriate development theory should underpin such policy to ensure future event policy proactively addresses future challenges associated with the quest for developing strong and vibrant regions.