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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. AAP/Lukas Coch

Rebalancing government in Australia to save our federation

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…
Does COAG help the Prime Minister and the Premiers collaborate - or create a platform for empty grandstanding? Alan Porritt/AAP

Why we need clear rules between the states and Commonwealth

The reform of Australia’s federation is under review. In this special series, we ask leading Australian academics to begin a debate on renewing federalism, from tax reform to the broader issues of democracy…
An unintended consequence of competitive federalism has led states to abandon high benefit-cost ratio projects for inferior ones. AAP/Alan Porritt

Beggar bowl politics blocks Federation’s potential

Calls to lift the GST rate to placate the states financial challenges will serve to only exacerbate an already severe vertical fiscal imbalance and prolong a deeply unsatisfactory chapter in Australia’s…
Abandoning health reforms will undoubtedly lead to worse performance, including longer waiting times, across the health system. AAP Image/Quentin Jones

Did the health reform process fail? Now we’ll never know

Yesterday was a sorry day in the long history of health reform in Australia. The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Reform Council issued its five year score-keeper’s report on health reform progress…
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 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…
Australia’s environmental laws are there to protect places like the Great Barrier Reef. Flickr/eutrophication&hypoxia

Explainer: one-stop-shop for environmental approvals

The new Federal Government has approved a broad framework for achieving a “one-stop-shop” that will hand to state and territory governments the final decisions on projects assessed under Australia’s main…
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…
What is a meaningful role for the Commonwealth government in the early 21st century? AAP Image/Paul Miller

Securing Australia’s future: governance and state-federal relations

SECURING AUSTRALIA’S FUTURE: As the Commission of Audit reviews government activity and spending, The Conversation’s experts take a closer look at key policy areas tied to this funding – what’s working…
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…
The progress women made in the workforce decades ago appears to have stalled. State Library of South Australia/Flickr

Women starting behind and failing to catch up: report

Australian girls and women start out on an equal footing with males in school and higher education, but fall behind in workforce…
Increased longevity often comes with multiple health conditions and disability. Image from shutterstock.com

Australian women outlive men then struggle with disadvantage

Women live longer and healthier lives than men but face lower rates of pay, are less likely to participate in paid work and accumulate less superannuation to retire on, which leads to disadvantage later…
Hate to burst your bubble but there’s a lot more left to do in reforming early childhood education. Child image from www.shutterstock.com

Fragile progress in early childhood education could be undone

The latest Council of Australian Governments (COAG) reform council report released this week showing small improvement in the quality of Australia’s early childhood education comes as federal and state…
The latest report into Australian education shows some positives and some negatives. School image from www.shutterstock.com

COAG education reports show early childhood and Year 12 are key

Educational outcomes in Australia are showing signs of improvement, particularly in the early years and in Year 12 attainment…
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…
The Prime Minister was unable to get agreement with the states on the government’s school funding reforms. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Beaten but not Gonski: the wait for leadership on schools continues

The A$14 billion federal government proposal based on David Gonski’s call for a better school funding system has not been agreed to at this week’s COAG meeting. In fact, none of the states and territories…
Universities source around 60% of their funding from the government - down from 90% in the 1980s. AAP

Funding cuts pose challenges for the university business model

As state premiers meet to thrash out an agreement on funding the Gonski school reforms, universities have been gnashing their teeth at being the losers in the funding equation. Earlier this week, Vice-Chancellor…
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…
For low-income households, energy saving usually means switching off. Will COAG’s reforms give them more options? James Mooney

COAG’s energy market reforms must protect the poor

There is only so much that individuals can do. As energy prices keep climbing, in many households you will find a parent patrolling to check lights and appliances are turned off. Some poorer households…

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