Based on research carried out under Labour governments throughout the 1990s in Western Australia, the authors consider the social, political and economic conditions under which policy is formulated, understood and enacted. They look at how the state structure affects the content and nature of policy statements and provide an outline of the history of policy developments and point to future possibilities and probabilities. Outcomes within funding ceilings, accountability frameworks and national guidelines are but some of the changes referred to. The emergence of competency-based standards in education and training in schools, workplaces and the professions is evident throughout Australia at state level, but the concern is whether issues of education should be played out within the state and outside civil society. The authors argue for the mediation in implementation of policy - rather than a lambasting of policy formulation and implementation. This text is intended for heads of education departments, PGCE, BEd. MEd. students and researchers interested in education policy and planning. Education policymakers, and educational historians.