Delegates to the Australasian Federation Conference, Melbourne, 1890, where being white, male and bearded was standard form.
National Library of Australia
This year is the 120th anniversary of the Australasian Federal Convention through which, with rancour, prejudices and vested interests, the Australian nation was eventually born.
The British parliament passed the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act in 1900.
Museum of Australian Democracy
Australia's Constitution is a product of foreign and domestic political influences. It has become one of the enduring aspects of Australian politics and law, for better and worse.
Choosing Cairns or Townsville as a northern Queensland capital would set off a political storm, as would new regional governments around Australia.
Federal politicians and the public like the idea of abolishing the states. But consider the likely result: a more powerful Canberra, with regional governments amounting to glorified shire councils.
Recent debates over federation reform confirm that the Turnbull government must map out a path and a plan.
Commitment to a stronger, ongoing and more bipartisan federal reform process is one of the true tests of modern political leadership.
A dysfunctional unilateralism characterises intergovernmental relations in Australia.
The reality is that intergovernmental relations are not the strong point of federal systems generally. But some do it better than others.
Without metropolitan governance that is responsive to city residents’ wishes, states are much influenced by federal priorities – that is, by the money on offer.
Representative and accountable metropolitan government is needed to lead metro-scale planning, infrastructure investment and services, and partnerships with the private sector and civil society.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, meeting with state leaders today, says if we were starting from scratch we’d tax differently.
There's no need to abandon the current tax collection system. Instead we should ensure the voting public understand where their taxes are going.
Malcolm Turnbull may struggle to persuade Daniel Andrews and some other state leaders to back major tax change, though Mike Baird has been arguing for reform.
Despite all the media coverage, don't expect any clear decisions on national tax reform on Friday. But we should see more progress on other issues, including domestic violence and violent extremism.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has pressed the need for a broad overhaul of the federation.
Tony Abbott has declared he will make the case for changing the tax system and the federation, but said the outcome will…
Today’s state and territory leaders have an opportunity to emulate the founders of the federation and make history by breathing new life into Australia’s system of government.
Federation in 1901 is now the middle point between 2014 and the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788. Despite this, most views of federation, if Australians have one at all, are probably shaped by its 19th-century…
There have been instances of successful federalism - how do we return to these?
When our two major levels of government work in partnership, our Federation can function well. The standout period for cooperative federalism was the Hawke/Keating term of government, producing the National…
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.
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…
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
Tony Abbott will face a fired-up “states’ union” at his first meeting with Australia’s premiers and chief ministers next…