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'A Question of Balance'

'A Question of Balance'

Natural resources conflict issues in Australia

3rd edition

By David Mercer


The key themes of the third edition of this established text are the rise of the globalised economy and the free-traders' current dominance of the economic agenda, and the continuing retreat by Australian governments, particularly the federal government, from involvement in environmental management.

What impact have these had upon the state of Australia's environment? In particular upon the four commercial sectors that for decades have been the economic backbone of rural Australia and, traditionally, the major contributors to Australia's exports ie:

  • forestry resources
  • tourism
  • mining and energy, and
  • agriculture and pastoralism.


Key Themes
Economy, Environment and Globalisation
Forest Management in Transition
Tourism - Clean and Green or Environmental Disaster?
Minerals and Energy Resources
Agriculture and Pastoralism

Bibliography/ Index


The book starts with a discussion of the author's key theme of human impact on the environment and the conflict that arises over the use and management of Australia's natural resources. This is followed by an analysis of the main sources of pressure on the environment in Australia and approaches to address them. … The remainder of the book provides detailed case studies of the forest, minerals, tourist and agricultural industries. … Mercer's reading is wide and he has drawn on his source material to produce a readable synthesis of some very complex issues. There is considerable factual detail on particular problems and this has been enhanced by a critique of remedial measures. The book provides a wealth of information and analysis. . . [It] will be a very useful reference to those with an interest in the conflicts that arise in our major resource-based industries and the extensive bibliography will be invaluable.

Bogong; Canberra & South-east Region Environment Centre

As Australian Governments retreat from involvement in green issues, the use and management of our natural resources is increasingly at the mercy of free-traders and the globalised economy.
In A Question of Balance, author David Mercer attempts to discern the impact of this power shift on the Australian environment and, in particular, the four commercial sectors that have been the backbone of rural Australia for decades: forestry resources, tourism, mining and energy, and agriculture and pastoralism.
Avoiding either extreme of the environmental debate, from technological optimism to pessimistic doomsday predictions, Mercer produces a well-researched, scientifically based analysis of the state of natural resources in Australia.

Monash News, 2000

Reviews of the previous editions:

An outstanding success that I recommend highly to students of critical environmental issues … Mercer uses a political economic approach, focusing first on the human impact on the Australian environment, and second on the conflict over the use and management of our natural resources. … The author has read widely and deeply and has shared his knowledge in such a way that readers can follow each theme further.

Bogong; Canberra & South-east Environment Centre

Well-researched, clear and unrelenting in its criticism of unplanned or poorly planned development.

Annals of Tourism Research

An invaluable reference for anybody involved in or concerned about the management, control and real selling price of Australia's natural resources.

Environment South Australia

A wealth of detail and analytic insight into the current place of tourism in Australia, and possible futures for it. … Teachers looking for an approach to tourism that students can grasp will be grateful to Mercer … a whole unit could be drawn up around these concepts ["hard and "soft" tourism] and others such as cultural heritage, wilderness, conflict, co-existence with conservation, limits to acceptable change, depressed rural regions, and how they connect to tourism. This book repays careful reading. …I would recommend the book … and I predict equal value from other chapters on timber harvesting, mining and agriculture and pastoralism.

Geography Teachers Assoc. ACT Newsletter


Published February 2000
Publisher The Federation Press
ISBN 9781862873421
Australian RRP $45.00
International Price $40.00
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