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The Forum > Article Comments > Would Kevin Rudd deliver two-tier government? > Comments

Would Kevin Rudd deliver two-tier government? : Comments

By Klaas Woldring, published 4/1/2007

Peter Costello's statement, that state governments have become mere 'branch offices' of the federal government, is close to the truth.

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The dominance of Canberra’s executive over Parliament gives Australians a taste of the arrogance and abuses of power they can expect from a centralised unitary government loosed from constitutional checks and balances. For example, regardless of their merits, the IR laws cut across the States’ responsibilities and the wishes of most of the population.

With unitary government, we could expect much more of the same, with only the ideological fruit loops in the minor parties exercising occasional restraint, when our bizarre electoral preference system delivers them the balance of power in the Senate even though hardly anyone votes for them.

No “mezzanine” supersized local governments will be able to present serious alternative views on policy issues beyond the petty and parochial.

Australia’s states have different economic, demographic social and environmental problems and priorities, and they need governments that reflect those differences. In a Federation, the right-wing rednecks of Queensland or latte lefties of Melbourne don’t tell Western Australia what to about mining policy or Tasmania how to manage its schools.

The States may not be models of good government, but why think the Commonwealth could do better?

Look at the areas where it has primary responsibility - defence, social security and welfare, income and expenditure taxes, border control, national security.

And look at its interventions in traditional areas of state responsibility, for example infrastructure. The politicking and pork-barrelling that determines where the Commonwealth directs its spending on defence contracts and industry assistance hardly gives confidence it would do a better job than the states at directing social and economic infrastructure spending to where it’s most needed.

We need to redraw the boundaries of what is sensibly a national responsibility and what should be left to the States to reflect 21st century needs and priorities, and that means passing some activities to the Commonwealth. But having redrawn the boundaries we should make them work, giving states the legal autonomy to act in their areas of responsibility and the financial autonomy to fund those services they deem appropriate.

Federation can be complicated, messy and inefficient, but the alternative is far worse.
Posted by Rhian, Thursday, 4 January 2007 3:14:03 PM
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I have challenged Woldrings misled dream before.

Woldring, when I become the second head of state, you will be the first person purged from your Post. You will be branded, and no longer be allowed to be a member of the peoples action party of Labor.

I do not support your insubordinate thoughts, your wrongfull thoughts, and your pseudo-academic notions that you can tell us, the proletariat, what we want or need. What we have is quite reasonable by my reckoning; all we need is to be rid of recalcitrant’s who are hijacking and blackmailing everything Australia once was. In order to create, yes a two tiered system, but not the model you seem to be familiar with. I reserve for you special consideration, in light of the fact you have not called for a peoples referendum. You assume this immense national change to be a fait accompli, even though it has been a Labor dream for more than 120 years.

It is a shame that most do not know the true historical nature of the Eureka Stockade; and it is well and good that Labors iconic, wistful tree of wisdom is gone, because nothing can save us from the Labor party. And well may we say God save the Queen.
Nov' 06.
Posted by Gadget, Thursday, 4 January 2007 4:23:40 PM
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Well some of us already know that answer of getting rid of the states it has been a long dream for the labor party as well as liberal party so would he do it

the answer to that is yes.

But then again labor does require policy's to get them there.
When they turn up we do not know so for those labor people hold you breath.
Posted by tapp, Thursday, 4 January 2007 4:47:26 PM
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State governments are facing extinction. Australian government must be steamlined to meet the millenium challenges of pressing global trade, environmental and security issues. States do not have the constitutional power to win any fight with any National Australian government over turf.

Over time, the muddling, bickering, middle level of government will be obsolete. In Australian's era of railways they could not agree on a standard guage rail line. Today, they cannot manage Australia's scare water resources fairly or efficiently.

Structural reform of government is imperative for Australia. It can be addressed in a planned strategic way or in a piece meal fashion. Either way, it will happen.

Over the next decade, states, in their current form, face a steady and terminal decline in their relevance as national legislation and regulation replaces the plethora of conflicting state laws with their bloated civil services. The task ahead for bold future federal governments is to set uniform Australian standards for formerly state controlled education, water, greenhouse emissions, power generation, health care, policing, registration of names and vehicles, liquor and gaming, bushfire control, criminal and commercial law, planning and local government.

What justification or reason will states have for their existance? We are Australians. 20 Million Australians share this vast island continent and only one law maker is required. Federalism does not work well anywhere.

I agree with Woldring's vision of a two-tier gogernment.

Eliminating state governments, will free up billions of dollars each year that can be productively applied into areas where we are falling behind; research and development, education and regional services all need massive investment right now. Reallocating states functions is the best way to achieve public utility infrastructure renewal without higher taxation.

Surely it’s time to end the high level waste in the unproductive antiquated machinery of state civil service and political administration. Who’s signed up for reform? I understand that the Greens and Democrats are on-board. Perhaps the new federal Labor Party team led by Kevin Rudd can deliver the biggest structural shake up in Australian history? Two-tier government has my vote, if it's put on the reform agenda.
Posted by Quick response, Thursday, 4 January 2007 4:57:47 PM
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It suprises me that people talk as these leaders are god like but it comes down to their federal executive and policy makers then they vote and we are given whatever whether good or bad.

So it seems that policy will be the issue, Like myself with the Australian Peoples Party policy for the people by the people solves solutions not in a back room.

Just like Industrial Relations which is an issue i have solved this problem.

I am not labor too many lost many with labor
not liberal too many lost jobs.
no point with the others.

So the real issue is policy and will this create the system, or will the states jump up and down or bow to the party dictator.
Posted by tapp, Thursday, 4 January 2007 7:07:58 PM
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None of the arguments presented convinces me that we should do away with state governments. In fact, I have never seen or heard a good argument for abolishing them. Democracy requires a system of checks and balances which prevents the concentration of power, even if there is some inefficiency. Federation (even weakened as it has been by the High Court), the separation of powers and the bicameral legislature with a usually effective and representative Senate are all means of protection for the individual against the centralisation of power.

Every country of our size has at least three levels of government. Some have four levels. Smaller countries such as France and Germany have at least three levels of government. Even countries with both smaller populations and smaller areas, such as Switzerland, have three levels. They could all be wrong, but I don't think so.

It would be a serious mistake to centralise power in one national government. We should be building up the states as protectors of our freedom.

It is sad that it is no longer necessary to have a referendum to change the constitution. Australia was the first nation on Earth to be formed by a vote of the people. Now, the federal government can just sign a treaty with another country to abolish the states under the external affairs power or use the corporations power to completely emasculate them.

Of course, the states, which actually control incorporation, could fight back by abolishing corporations. There's a high stakes strategy for you.

Or the people could drag themselves away from Paris Hilton for a moment.
Posted by Chris C, Thursday, 4 January 2007 8:24:29 PM
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