Governments have struggled to successfully implement large-scale integrated policy approaches, often resulting in policy failure. However, there has been little investigation into why this is the case. This paper links the discourse on policy failure and integrated policy approaches and identifies what aspects of ‘integration’ cause failure. It argues that programme failure occurs in integrated policy approaches when there are unachievable goals or timelines, poor policy design and/or when the incorrect types of processes are selected. Policy process failure is particularly evident in an integrated policy’s implementation where multi-sector and multi-level issues arise, whereas failure in the politics of integrated approaches is found in political gain and blame avoidance of key decision-makers. This framework is then applied to Australia’s Oceans Policy demonstrating that it was unable to achieve its original objectives; the layering process of new policy and institutions on established silos was ineffective; and the new institutions did not have the integrative capacity required for successful implementation. The Australian experience reveals that an institutional model that can deal with multiple issues, jurisdictions and sectors holistically is essential if integrative capacity is to be achieved.