Articles on Federalism

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Former Victorian premier John Brumby, pictured at a COAG meeting in 2008, wants an Australian federation with a better balance between roles, responsibilities and revenue. AAP/Paul Miller

John Brumby: an Australian federation for the future

More than 100 years after Federation, the government’s White Paper on Reform of the Federation presents a historic opportunity to reconsider federal-state relations and responsibilities. How can state…
Ever thus… there is a quite a history of the federal government pulling funding from the states. AAP/Alan Porritt

Funding stoush between the states and feds not so new

The states have some justification in being annoyed about being stripped of $80 billion worth of federal funding for health and education funding. These programs were negotiated on the basis of shared…
The federal budget shows that Tony Abbott is now committed to a strong division of responsibility between the Commonwealth and the states, rather than a more centralised model. AAP/Alan Porritt

Abbott draws up new battlelines in the fight over federalism

When treasurer Joe Hockey detailed his first budget on Tuesday, the announcement that the states and territories were to be stripped of A$80 billion in federal health and education funding agreed to with…
The High Court has given the Commonwealth two serious warnings that it needs to review its extensive spending program since 2009, but these have gone largely unheard. AAP/Lukas Coch

Commonwealth spending back in the High Court’s sights

This week, the High Court heard Toowoomba man Ron Williams’ second challenge to the constitutionality of the Commonwealth’s funding of the National School Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Program. While…
The Commission of Audit has recommended a major recalibration of Australia’s federal system. Why? AAP/Alan Porritt

Will the Commission of Audit lead to another ‘new federalism’?

The Commission of Audit has not flinched from making a tranche of bold recommendations to the Abbott government, but nothing in its report trumps the call for the Commonwealth to withdraw from areas that…
Infrastructure is a key challenge for Jay Weatherill’s South Australian state government, which has been returned to power in a minority government arrangement. AAP/Ben Macmahon

Labor lives to fight another day in South Australia

The electoral uncertainty in South Australia has come to an end, at least for the foreseeable future. To some disbelief, Labor premier Jay Weatherill has managed to overcome the odds – and indeed the polls…
The Liberals, headed by Will Hodgman, has trounced Labor in Tasmania; will “coast to coast” state coalition governments transpire? AAP

Not yet ‘coast to coast’ coalitions – so what now for federalism?

Over the weekend, Tasmanian voters resoundingly rejected Labor, while South Australians drove a cliff-hanger result that will probably be decided in the coming days. It’s not quite yet the “coast to coast…
COAG should not be a place where the rate of progress can be measured in decades. Federal and state leaders dragged the chain again last December. AAP/Alan Porritt

To fix the Federation we must harness the digital revolution

December’s Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting passed with barely a murmur. But structural conflicts between the federal and state governments are a constant, making government dysfunctional…
The school funding row left NSW premier Barry O'Farrell and prime minister Tony Abbott with fences to mend ahead of Abbott’s first COAG meeting. AAP/Paul Miller

Herding cats: Tony Abbott’s challenges for his first COAG

Personality matters in Commonwealth-state relations. A change of leader always brings with it a different approach to managing the relationship between the jurisdictions that make up the Australian federation…
The Coalition government’s deal with the states over schools funding should not be broken so easily. AAP Image/Tim Dornin

Legally binding or not? Why breaking the Gonski funding deals matters

Education minister Christopher Pyne has announced the new government will dump the agreements with the states on the Gonski school funding reforms, negotiated by the former Labor government. Pyne has said…
Prime Minister Tony Abbott (front left) and Queensland Premier Campbell Newman (front right) are keen to overhaul COAG, but will they succeed where others have failed? AAP Image/Dan Peled

Queensland challenges Abbott to end federal ‘meddling’

Tony Abbott will face a fired-up “states’ union” at his first meeting with Australia’s premiers and chief ministers next…
So far in the campaign, neither party has released a policy on how to forge a better relationship with the states. Image from shutterstock.com

Election 2013 Issues: Governing Australia

Welcome to the The Conversation’s Election 2013 State of the Nation essays. These articles by leading experts in their field provide an in-depth look at the key policy challenges affecting Australia as…
Tony Abbott has promised a new way forward for federal-state relations if the Coalition wins government. But will he find the federal lever of power too tempting not to pull? AAP/Alan Porritt

Federal-state reform: is Abbott offering the real deal?

Opposition leader Tony Abbott announced on the weekend that a government he leads would adopt a new approach to relations between the Commonwealth and the states. He has promised to meet with the state…
Tony Abbott might think his approvals plan will simplify things, but it will unleash new complications. AAP Image/Lukas Coch

Opposition plan to surrender environmental approvals a messy backward step

While the political focus in Australia was on the Labor Party leadership challenge, the Opposition released its policy for “a one-stop-shop for environmental approvals”. The policy claims that handing…
National parks make up a lot of our landmass, but change is needed if they’re to protect it. Flickr/Paolo Rosa

Making national parks truly national

Australia boasts over 500 national parks covering 28 million hectares of land, or about 3.6% of Australia. You could be forgiven for thinking we’re doing well in the biodiversity-conservation game. But…
Western Australia remains the only state to have attempted to secede from the Australian federation, passing a referendum in favour in 1933. AAP/Adam Gartrell

Breaking up is hard to do: why Western Australia would find it difficult to divorce Canberra

Gina Rinehart’s father Lang Hancock was a big proponent of Western Australia seceding from the Australian federation, and every time the latest figures on GST distributions are released, sympathetic sentiments…
Water is in short supply and high demand in Australia: who should have the final say on its use?

Regulating water: debate swirls around Commonwealth’s role

The release of a Senate report into a Commonwealth water trigger marks another chapter in a debate that has simmered and bubbled for 30 years in Australia. The report recommends that the main Commonwealth…
The Gillard government’s Gonski reforms have a long way to go before reaching a school near you. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Budget blowouts and states wrangles: where to now on Gonski?

Last week NSW signed up to the Gillard government’s proposed changes to school funding – a deal that would see a new funding model based on the Gonski review and an injection of A$5 billion into NSW schools…
Tony Abbott has been quiet on the subject of federalism recently. AAP/Alan Porritt

Grattan on Friday: Abbott, a centralist at heart

Suddenly, everyone seems to be unloading about the state of federal-state relations and the problems of the Council of Australian Governments. COAG, where the prime minister, premiers and chief ministers…

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