This paper looks at the role of accounting in a major environmental infrastructural project, the flooding of Lake Pedder in Tasmania in the 1960s. This was a contentious political decision in which accounting information was important and decisive. The paper found that accounting was used selectively and creatively to legitimate decision-making supporting a cost-benefit calculus. Environmental considerations were rendered invisible, marginalised and excluded from the evaluation. Accounting was used as an impression management tool through selectivity, bias and enhancement. It provides a rare illustration of the limitations of accounting for an infrastructural environmental decision using a real life, in depth case study.
- Environmental decision-making
- Environmental externalities
- Impression management
- Lake Pedder