Tony Abbott has again raised whether or not the Commonwealth should have more powers over State governments when things go wrong, and even asked how it could be done without abolishing the States. I put in my usual blurb.
Dr Mark Drummond did a Phd in how Australia could save $50 billion a year by abolishing State governments!
Only by creating a truly National and Local government model can we act fast enough to prepare for the climate and peak oil challenges ahead. Power creep is already happening as the Federal government slowly takes over the collection of taxes and powers of the States. (Just compare the Federal percentage of taxation with 80 years ago!)
It’s time to discuss other methods of installing “checks and balances” lest our Federal government become the all-powerful monster that pro-Federation philosophers feared in the first place! The States are gradually be taken over by default.
They don’t properly serve as a “check and balance”, yet cripple our country. COAG has failed to deliver on the Murray Darling, and duplication is crippling our economy. Everyone blames everyone else for health, and not having a National education policy for a nation of only 21 million is a joke. Indeed, policies for police, welfare, education and child protection could all become more equitable and more efficient across the whole country. Why do families that move interstate have to watch children suffer adjusting to a new curriculum? Why do we have 8 State websites on diabetes?
And the local governments are not even described in the Constitution! They are the kicking boys of BOTH the State and Federal governments. Australia is atypical in geography. Far from being “more local”, some of our States are so large you could fit a few European COUNTRIES in them! Instead, we should admit we have a large geographic area anyway, and save money and confusion by having clear National government policies and LOCAL service delivery. Let’s have local governments making local decisions about Zoning, Parks, etc. Local school boards should plan the school buildings, the hiring and firing of teachers, etc. Imagine local elections MEANING something again! It’s time Australia had the public debate about how to streamline the National government and make our National Politicians truly accountable, while also guaranteeing certain local government powers in the Constitution. See http://www.beyondfederation.org.au/ for more ideas and alternative models.
Dr Drummond’s “Australia United” plan is “all carrot and no stick” for State government employees as they are rolled over into a National government, and any that are “pruned” are given generous super payouts to compensate for this once-off overhaul. After 5 years we could finally have a democracy where the responsibilities of 2 tiers of government were obvious, there was no more buck-passing, and we had more money for local governments than they ever dreamed of.