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The Forum > Article Comments > Federalism and the corporate governance analogy > Comments

Federalism and the corporate governance analogy : Comments

By Ken Parish, published 30/1/2008

The problems of Australian federalism are overstated and relatively easily fixed given the requisite political will.

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The referral or 'yielding of powers' from the States to the Commonwealth Government makes fiscal sence if States are to realise substantially cost savings by pruning their extensive functions.

By doing so, states can contribute to the creation of an efficient body of national laws covering industrial relations, criminal law, consumer and occupational health laws, to name but a few.

Rudd may propose a re-structured role for (formerly) state organisations in performing their new national charter. That should keep most public servants happy.

The Premiers need to put forward simple proposals to refer state powers, perhaps starting with industrial relations, then health, education, climate change, water and ports.

Off-load these areas and the savings to State coffers will be in the billions annually. The state governments could then focus on the residual functions under their stewardship.

For example, long suffering customers are sure to appreciate any serious effort to fix the woeful state of public infrastructure, as is evident in public transport and electricity generation and distribution.

Down-sizing the states will help premiers meet high service delivery expectations without taking such highly contentious measures as the privatisation of essential services.

The fact that Premiers have done so against the overwhelming views of Australian citizens underlines the unsustainable governance of state governments.

Genuine reform is achievable - if Premiers engage in deep down-sizing.
Posted by Quick response, Thursday, 31 January 2008 1:41:52 PM
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Now I know why there are so few posts in response to this article.
Ken Parish spent quite a lot of words to say that, despite continual criticisms of the current federal system, there is actually not much wrong with it and after just a few mutual applied agreements between Commonwealth and states, we should just carry on and everything will be hunky dory.

We currently have real problems in the wasted costs of duplication of services (together with responsibility for final accountability) when both federal and state governments have departments of education, health , transport, industrial relations, environment etc.
Also, with regards to different states and territories having differing approaches to industrial relations (WA versus the rest), IVF (Victoria versus the rest), mandatory sentencing (WA & NT[at one time] versus the rest), anti free speech incitement to hatred laws (Victoria versus the rest), Outcomes Based Education (Victoria and NSW versus the rest) and others yet to be realized, it should be pretty obvious to those who take an interest that you can never have uniformity of all laws (or Canberra setting the policy, the states providing the service) without the people of at least one state practically always being the loser whenever there is a surrender of state laws to the Commonwealth.

I think this problem needs a lot more thought.

Ironically, despite favourably quoting Curtin University academic Alan Fenna’s interpretation of our constitution as originally intended, it doesn’t seem to occur to him that abolishing section 96 and reversing the wording of s. 109 might (I stress might) be a very simple solution to the current problems associated with our federalist quagmire
Posted by Edward Carson, Monday, 4 February 2008 1:53:10 PM
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