Reform Australia

On this page:-

  • Part 1: Why we must abolish the state governments
    • The Founding Father’s wanted the colonies amalgamated into one government in the first place
    • States cost $50 billion a year or 5% of GDP
    • States divide us before multinationals
    • The states are not geographically local, they are enormous!
    • We are far too over-governed and under-protected
    • States can interfere with urgent action on climate change
  • Part 2: the goal:-
    1.  Efficiency
    2. Responsibility
    3. Reduction
    4. Education
    5. Effecting business
    6. Sharing
    7. Resource optimistation
    8. State Law upgrade
  • Part 3: Democratic safeguards against an all powerful national government
    1. Citizen initiated referendums
    2. Right of recall
  • Part 4: an alternative model
  • Part 5: How do we get there?
  • Part 6: An example, England has no “States”.
  • Former Prime Minister’s Bob Hawke (Labour) and John Howard (Liberal) agree!
  • Other politicians, public figures and groups that also want to disband the states.

Part 1. Why we must abolish the state governments

  • The Founding Father’s wanted the colonies amalgamated into one government in the first place

    “I invite the honorable and learned member (Mr. Higgins) to consider this point: If the people of the smaller states are willing to adopt the type of government suggested by our Victorian friends, we can save the expense of ten Houses of Legislature and five Governors, and we can become a truly united people. But we have been sent here to frame a scheme of federation, not of amalgamation.”
    (Sir Richard Baker of South Australia, speaking at the Third Session of the National Australasian Convention, in Melbourne on 17 March 1898, as recorded on page 2482 of the official report)

  • States cost us $50 billion a year — or 5% of GDP!

Just paying for the state politicians is expensive

Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon calls for the states to be abolished. “We are the MOST governed country in the world!” and “states cost us about 9 billion dollars”. MP3 below. Abolish the states: Fitzgibbon – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

However, it’s not just the cost of the Parliaments, but the costs to business and extra legislation and adapting systems to each particular state. The definitive Phd on this subject is by Dr Mark Drummond and is has a free PDF version available here. Mark concludes that Australia would save $50 billion or 5% of GDP.

  • States divide Australia before multinationals

Multinational corporations are becoming more powerful than many national governments. Multinationals are encouraged to divide and conquer Australia as they can pick and choose between the lowest tax deals or biggest perks. We often end up in a race to the bottom on taxes, or a race to the largest kick-backs. The world needs strong streamlined national governments that can stand up to the multinationals. The internet and fast communications have enabled a world of information flow that our “founding fathers” could not have imagined. They never imagined globalised corporations with more money and power than many national governments. Arguing that the states form a vital “check and balance” on the powers of national government — rather than being an impediment to getting things done and a handicap in the face of multinational power — is simply an irrelevant hangover from outdated concepts. It’s missing the bigger picture, and out of step with the modern world.

  • The states are not geographically local, they are enormous!

The sheer geographic size of Australia is often presented as an argument against abolishing the states which — according to the federationists — represent a local view. However this is laughable. The sheer size of today’s Australian states themselves is overwhelming. We have a huge geographic area and small population: probably one of the lowest population to geography ratios of any nation on the planet. Are today’s enormous states really representing local concerns? What does a parliament in Sydney really know of life in Packsaddle or Broken Hill? You could fit a few European countries between Packsaddle and the NSW parliament in Macquarie Street! Everyone in Australia wants good government services, such as clean efficient hospitals, reliable national rail and roads, and a national education system so children are not punished when families move. We are tired of the feds blaming the states and the states blaming the feds for funding issues. Instead of wasting $9 billion a year in funding excess parliaments, we should encode the separate responsibilities of a streamlined national government, with powers and responsibilities of local governments in the constitution. The national government will provide all Australians with unified legislation, and collect taxes in a vastly simplified tax code, while the local governments focus on service provision. National funding would be allocated to local governments on a population and special regional needs basis. But local governments would meet local needs. Where will the local hospital be? How big will local government areas become? Will some local government vote on merging with another local government? There are regional towns split by artificial state boundaries, each with different state legislation (and sometimes even different time-zones!)  Albury-Wodonga might combine services into one larger local government if they were not divided by a state line. That would be their choice. Local governments might combine assets or even split them, based on local priorities!  As it is, they are subject to the whims of the massive state governments. In 2016 some local governments were arbitrarily merged by the NSW state government, and citizens like myself did not get to vote on it!

  • We are far too over-governed and under-protected

Australia only has a population of 21 million and yet has 8 parliaments (for 6 states and 2 territories). That’s one parliament for every 2.6 million people. California has a population of 36.5 million yet is just one state! Why do Australians need 14 times the parliaments that Californians do? Having a large number of people under one unitary set of laws does not in itself demolish democracy, but merely requires smarter constitutional rights of appeal to the citizenry, which Australia currently lacks.

  • States can interfere with urgent action on climate change

As Emeritus Professor Lance A Endersbee AO FTSE argues:

Australia is vulnerable because the Australian Government does not have sufficient powers to defend the national economy, or to plan and build for national development. This is the most serious problem facing the nation. The only major national infrastructure project in our history was the Snowy Mountains Scheme, started 50 years ago and authorised under the defence powers of the Commonwealth. There is now much to be done. The Australian Government has vital national responsibilities. The Commonwealth should have the powers to plan and build for national development.
National Development and the constitution

 

Part 2: the goal

These 8 reasons were compiled by Retire All state Politicians:-

1. Efficiency
Our current system that commenced operation in the days of horses and buggies has become cumbersome and outdated. With today’s transport and rapid communications, the existing group of federal politicians can easily accomplish what was done by six times their number of state politicians in 1901 (and 2004).

2. Responsibility
Politicians seem to have refined ‘duck shoving’ to an art form. We now have a ‘third world’ health system in this country. People in pain are waiting many months, even years, for ‘so called’ elective surgery on knees and hips in our public hospitals. There is no possibility of the system improving while state politicians blame their federal counterparts and vice-versa. Making one person responsible for a problem is the first step in getting it solved. Then if the federal health minister cannot deliver the goods, maybe at the next election we will find someone who can.

3. Reduction
You do not have to be an accountant to see the savings that would be achieved if all state and territory politicians retired. Why should Australians continue to pay for eight regular state and territory elections, as well as politicians’ salaries, superannuation and necessary expenses such as overseas travel?

4. Education
Wouldn’t we all benefit from a single public education system, rather than different ones in each state? If we take the Australian Air Force as an example, each family usually moves to a different state every two years. Changing to a completely different education system each time must be real fun for the children! Do Victorians really need to be educated differently to Queenslanders? We hope not.

5. Effecting Business
Firms that operate in more than one state incur huge costs in complying with different state laws and regulations for items as diverse as occupational health and safety to insurance. Even doctors, nurses and tradespersons require additional registration or licences to work in different states. The Victorian state Government, to its credit, has attempted to address some of these anomalies, particularly those applying in the Albury-Wadonga area. Unfortunately, it found the problem to be too hard and gave up. This is a shame, as the cost of interstate anomalies is estimated to be TEN BILLION DOLLARS PER YEAR!

6. Sharing
Australia is a dry country and water resources are scarce. Doesn’t it seem ridiculous that different states are squabbling about who owns what? With one central body taking charge, we could have a chance of ensuring that all Australians received a fair share.

7. Resource Optimisation
We need good politicians and have many of them. Some, however, are not quite as good as others. Without state governments, there would only be jobs for about 20% of the current state and federal politicians. It is probably wishful thinking to expect political parties to nominate the best 20% from their ranks as candidates for the positions available, but we can hope. If we must have politicians, it would make sense to know that we only had the very best in the country on our payroll.

8. State Law Upgrade
Abolition of state and territory governments gives us a great opportunity to get new and better national laws to replace the existing state ones, many of which are clumsy and outdated. It does not seem unreasonable to expect our new top-flight federal politicians to come up with fresh legislation that will combine the very best features from the laws of individual states.

Or see ABC’s “Difference of Opinion” from August 2007.

Part 3: Democratic safeguards against an all powerful national government

1. Citizen initiated referendums

Some countries have the ability to trigger a referendum if an unpopular law is about to be passed. EG: A “large enough” petition is signed by citizens, which then prompts a referendum and broader public discussion over the issue. The referendum is then binding. Australian citizens cannot even trigger a national referendum. Only political parties can! Consider how stunted that makes our constitutional reform process. A groundswell of popular citizen opinion is crippled by the federal politicians that gain from having state politicians “on-side” to achieve national goals. This effectively means that federal politicians are not likely to consider putting forward  a referendum to abolish the states when they currently need state politicians to work on other projects (such as saving the Murray Darling river) which would be so much easier if only the states did not exist in the first place! Talk about “Catch 22”.

2. Right of recall

In a similar vein, Australians do not have the right to recall their local member to have another election if they become exceedingly unpopular. An emergency vote would only be initiated if enough citizens signed a petition.

Part 4: an alternative model

Anthony Nicholas of Beyond Federation has put together a nice alternative constitution for us to debate.

From his summary:

The Draft Specifications for a Citizens Constitution presented here are intended not only, to make our dysfunctional federal system of government effective and efficient, but also, more responsive and accountable. They would obviate some of the disabilities of our political system, such as the disruptive electoral cycle, counter-productive adversarial politics, blame-shifting between governments and policy auctions at election time.

The most obvious element is the reduction of the number of levels of elected government from three to two by abolishing state parliaments and territory assemblies. Their responsibilities would be divided between a reformed national parliament, attending to issues of national significance, and enhanced local governments, acting collaboratively to attend to all others. Decision-making would be shifted toward the operational level, allowing opportunities for increased efficiency.

Without significant disruption, the regionalised functions of the states and territories would become the responsibility of boards of management nominated by the local governments in the regions appropriate for each function. Local government would be enhanced by the wealth of talent released by the abolition of state parliaments.

The national parliament would consist of 400 members, elected for single terms of five years from 40 electorates. Elections , in which each voter may select one man and one women, would be held successively, one electorate at a time, (by a postal ballot every six or seven weeks). The “electoral cycle” would become an historical item.

An executive council of ten would be elected from the national parliament to run the country, together with four executive committees with specific duties. One committee would appoint and manage the staff of all government services, another would set and enforce standards of financial management for governments, a third would investigate and disclose improprieties in government and its agencies, while a fourth would provide an interface with local government. Elections to these bodies would be by a proportional method and members would hold office for not more than eight years.

The proposals also include several basic guarantees including the separation of church and state, citizens’ rights, real values for money amounts in legislation and freedom of information.
Citizens Constitution

One key difference I have with Anthony is that if we dump the States, I’m nervous about losing the Federal Senate as a house of review. However he seems convinced that the following stipulations act as enough checks and balances, and the more I think about it the more I’m coming to agree:-

  • only having a single 5 year term of service for each politician
  • dumping the Winner Takes All voting system
  • installing Proportional Representation of 5 men and 5 women from each of the 40 electorates
  • a legal requirement to hold a Constitutional Convention every 10 years to monitor any needed refinements for Constitutional change in an ever changing world.

It’s a really interesting alternative system, and my favourite for now. (Of course I reserve the right to change my mind.)

Part 5: How do we get there?

From Dr Mark Drummond’s Australia United plan:

Five Stage Transition Plan to be reviewed on completion of each stage

Stage 1: Foundation Laying (~ 2009 to 2013)

  • local government strengthened by constitutional recognition, functional empowerment and increased funding from the Commonwealth government

  • abolish State and Territory taxes

  • ongoing efforts to establish national health, education and legal systems (such as the efforts to establish the national curriculum, national occupational health and safety laws, and national registration systems for businesses, tradespeople and professionals)

  • explain to the public that financial benefits in the order of at least $50 billion per annum in 2009 dollar terms, or about five per cent of GDP, can be achieved across the economy overall under a two-tier government structure comprising national and local governments, but no State and Territory governments

Stage 2: Confirmation (~ 2013)

  • referendum calling for the amalgamation of Commonwealth, State and Territory governments to form a single national government under Commonwealth control, leaving local government and regional administration of government functions otherwise unchanged in the first instance

Stage 3: Preparation – After the Referendum at Stage 2 is Carried (~ 2013 to 2016)

  • establish a single national set of laws and regulations across all fields, where such laws can host local variations where required for different geographic and climatic conditions (for building regulations, for example), and can be applied at the discretion of local governments, to achieve a seamless national economy and seamless national legal and environmental management systems

  • establish fully national funding systems under Commonwealth control for education, health and other functions currently funded at least in part by State and Territory governments

  • Commonwealth Grants Commission designs methodologies to provide Commonwealth funding direct to local governments rather than State and Territory governments

Stage 4: Unification Day (2016)

  • Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments form a unified national government under Commonwealth control

  • Courts previously operating in States and Territories become Commonwealth Courts

  • Lands and assets of State and Territory governments are transferred to the Commonwealth

  • Unification Transition Bureau is Formed

  • State and Territory Parliamentarians have the choice to retire or become part of the Unification Transition Bureau for a maximum of four years

  • all employees of State and Territory governments become employees of the Commonwealth government, including education and health sector employees and the police

Stage 5: Consolidation to Achieve Full Unification (2016 to 2020)

  • rationalisation of former Commonwealth, State and Territory bureaucracies to achieve a single national government bureaucracy

  • generous (all carrot, no stick) incentives and redundancy payout plans for surplus public servants

  • transfer of financial and human resources from bureaucracy to local government, schools, hospitals and other “coalface” public service units

  • refinement of boundaries used for regional administrative units so they no longer stop at State and Territory borders

  • financial benefits amounting to approximately $20 billion per annum in the public sector, $40 billion per annum in the private sector, and at least $50 billion per annum (in 2009 dollar terms), or about five per cent of GDP, are likely to be achieved across the economy as a whole from about 2020 onwards after the initial costs of transition more or less cancel out such benefits over the period 2016 to 2019

Dr Mark Drummond
Co-convenor of Beyond Federation (at 
www.beyondfederation.org.au)
May 2009

 

Part 6: An example, England has no “States”.

If we look at the Country of England (as opposed to the political entity that is the United Kingdom), it has no states but local County governments have been formed into 10 “regions”. See the Regions of England wiki. So there’s the top tier of government with elections for the national House of Lords and Parliament, and then there’s elections at the local County level but no elections for the Regions of England.

This seems to be a purely administrative level of government, and as we’ll see there are various proposals for Australia to run something similar if the regional government tier is necessary. Yet again, this would be a more streamlined efficient process than today’s bloated state parliaments. For example, I former Premier of NSW Bob Carr recommends that we abolish the states and put 5 administrators in charge of “regional concerns”. (As I only heard the tail end of the radio piece I can’t spell out how this would work, but 5 administrators instead of our vastly bloated NSW Parliament and Legislative council certainly sounds more efficient.)

Note: These ‘regions’ are a middle tier of government and are not to be confused with European regions, which seem to be more about recognising the existing claims to statehood over regions with disputed territorial sovereignty. (Such as Scotland in the UK, autonomous region of Belgium, the Basque Country, which lies in both north-eastern Spain and south-west France, and Catalonia which lies in eastern Spain).

Former Prime Minister’s Bob Hawke and John Howard agree!

They both agree that the Australian Federation should go, and that there would be a national and local / regional government make up to create a far more efficient Australian government system.

Politicians, public figures and groups calling to disband the states.

POLITICIANS/GOVERNMENT

Lindsay Tanner MP, in his book ‘Open Australia’ recommends abolishing state governments at
http://conference.socialchange.net.au/openaustralia/highlights/
and his website describes a forum on the issue at
http://conference.socialchange.net.au/openaustralia/aboutforum.html
and shows that Glenn Petrusch supports getting rid of the states, at
http://conference.socialchange.net.au/openaustralia/discuss/msg00137.html
Also, a review of Open Australia’ by Mark Lennon is at
http://workers.labor.net.au/2/d_review_tanner.html

Local Government Minister Senator Ian Macdonald envisages two-tier government in a report titled ‘Two-tier government a future possibility ‘ by Fiona West in the local government magazine ‘Government News’ at http://www.vgovt.com.au/Article/Display/1,4242,571,00.html

In November 2000 the Local Government Association of Queensland and Brisbane’s lord mayor [propose] the abolition of state governments, as reported in an article titled ‘Brisbane City Council: Australia’s biggest council’ by Fiona West in the local government magazine ‘Government News’ at http://www.vgovt.com.au/Feature/Display/1,4242,277,00.html

Daryl Melham MP and Senator Cheryl Kernot support getting rid of the states and establishing regional government, in addresses in Brisbane in March 1995, as recorded on page 7 of 19 at www.parliament.qld.gov.au/parlib/aspg/papers/950300.pdf

Ted Mack, in an address of 29 August 1997, states that “Australia probably needs up to 20 states or regions based on community of interest rather than the present arbitrary nineteenth century state boundaries but they don’t need Westminster systems of government” at http://www.lisp.com.au/~ballots/mackt2.htm
This address is reproduced, with corrections, here at the FNR website.

In a paper titled ‘Rational Delivery of Health Services in Rural and Remote Areas’, presented at the 4th National Rural Health Conference, on 9th February 1997 at the Perth Concert Hall, Joe Morrissey (of the Department of Nursing Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville) states that “Giving the states responsibility is, effectively, to advocate seven different rural health policies. A more sensible solution is to abolish the states and have one national government with a coherent national policy.” at (see especially page 5 of 12 but the whole paper provides extremely powerful rationales for change in order to address life and death gravity health care imperatives) http://www.ruralhealth.org.au/pdf/ratdel.pdf

The Official Committee Hansard of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment, Education And Workplace Relations (Reference: Issues specific to older workers seeking employment, or establishing a business, following unemployment), Thursday 16 September 1999, Adelaide, records a Mr Sawford speaking favourably of the possibility of abolishing state governments, at (on page 87 of 138) http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/reps/commttee/r2514.pdf

At The Premier’s Forum: Working Together in strengthening rural communities
A Report Of The Forum, September 1998, one participating group recommends “get rid of State Government and focus on Regional Government” at
http://www.premiers.nsw.gov.au/pubs_dload_part3/spd/working%20together%20.html

Peter Beattie struggles to avoid supporting the abolition of the states on 2 September 1994 at (on page 21 of 56, being Hansard page 9147) http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/handocs/1994.pdf/940902ha.pdf

Willoughby Councillor Terry Fogarty supports the abolition of state governments and their replacement by regional governments at http://members.ozemail.com.au/~tfogarty/qa.htm

NSW Independent MP Clover Moore states that “State Government should reorganise itself into a number of regional Governments” at http://content.ninemsn.monster.com.au/arts/jobqanda/5752/

A record of the votes received by the Abolish State government party in the 1995 NSW legislative council at http://www.ioville.net.au/~adam/1995-nsw-council

A record of the votes received by the Abolish State Governments! party in the 1999 NSW legislative council election at http://www.seo.nsw.gov.au/results/elect99/lcresults.htm

COMMUNITY DISCUSSIONS

The recommendation to abolish state governments was offered as a solution to cross-border at the Community Forum on “Cross Border Issues” , Tweed Heads, February 1999 (see Group 3 response to Question 3) at http://www.premiers.nsw.gov.au/rccc/rcccfcross.htm

The 9 November 2000 Box Hill Public Forum achieved support for the abolition of state government and the idea to “put funding into local and federal levels” at (on page 74 of 144) http://www.doi.vic.gov.au/doi/doielect.nsf/2a6bd98dee287482ca256915001cff0c/e454d4cd906dfff04a256a14001985b7/$FILE/Boxhill.pdf

FUTURE VISIONS

The report ‘Tasmania Together 2020’, dated 5 October 2000, refers to support for the abolition of state government, the elimination of a tier of government and a move to having Tasmania subject to just two tiers of government (see pages 17, 91 and 94 of the 119 pages) at http://www.tastogether.asn.au/graphics/benchmarks/tt_summaryofdata.pdf

Dr Klaas Woldring states advocates “abolition of the states and the introduction of strong local government units” and goes on to say that “The states should be replaced by 60 smaller regions indirectly elected by groups of local councils” in a paper titled ‘ Taking the Republican Debate seriously: Adopting a Maximalist Approach ‘, dated March 1995 as reproduced at http://users.bigpond.net.au/mrj/adr/adopt.html

Dr Lionel McKenzie supports the abolition of state governments and moves to a two tier system in discussions on Constitutional Reform and the Republic at http://www.acr.net.au/~mckenzie/reform.html
and on the future of federalism at http://www.acr.net.au/~mckenzie/federalism.html
and on the environment at http://www.acr.net.au/~mckenzie/enviro.html
and on Public Order and Civil liberties at http://www.acr.net.au/~mckenzie/asio.html

Dr Peter Ellyard of the G21C Community Republicans supports regional government at http://www.link.net.au/21aust/html/community_republicans.html

Reshaping Australia: Bob Gould’s blueprint for regionalising Australia, is at http://www.southlandmedia.com.au/gould.html

The States: One More Obstacle – Do We Need Them?
Delivered by Marion Sullivan at the Women’s Constitutional Convention, Parliament house Canberra, 30 January 1998, at http://www.womensconv.dynamite.com.au/sulliv.htm

The View from Regional Australia
Delivered by the late Dorothy Ross AM OBE, Country Women’s Association
at the Women’s Constitutional Convention, Parliament house Canberra, 29 January 1998, at http://www.womensconv.dynamite.com.au/ross.htm

Marieke Brugman implies support for the abolition of state governments in an address at the National Press Club on 7 March 2001 at
http://www.npc.org.au/RURAL/ADDRESSESMARCH7-2001.htm

Ray Brindle implies support for regional governments and/or regional cooperation of constituent local governments at http://www.arrb.org.au/papers/Rayb3.htm

Aboriginal Land Council Wants Deals Powers for Tribal Regions, by Erwin Chlanda, Alice Springs News report, 18 November 1998, at http://www.alicespringsnews.com.au/0542.html

Gavin Gamble in Melbourne recommends the abolition of the states and local government and their replacement by regional governments, in a great article at both
http://smh.com.au/news/webdiary/0107/07/A41293-2001May10.html and (duplicated at) http://www.smh.com.au/news/webdiary/0105/25/A41293-2001May10.html

Norm Ryan supports the dismantling of the states at
http://www.bordermail.com.au/newsflow/pageitem?page_id=11257

Colin Long supports state abolition at http://www.unimelb.edu.au/infoserv/urban/hma/hurban/1997q4/0240.html

A Mr Kalgariff supports regional governments in place of state governments, at
http://www.national-renewal.org.au/ConCon/proc/hansard_0902_4.shtml

Hugh Mackay briefly explores the possibility and implications of eliminating state governments at http://webdev.uow.edu.au/law/civics/expert/mackaytrial.html

The Easter 1992 Presidential Message of the Council of Australian Humanist Societies contains the statement that the abolition of the States is much more worthy of attention than the issue of a republic, at http://home.vicnet.net.au/~humanist/resources/cahs.html

In response to a question following his delivery of a paper titled ‘The Senate, Policy-Making and Community Consultation’, Ian March states:
There have been a lot of lectures—and I’ve stopped going to them now—where people talk about a referendum to abolish the states, and a referendum to change this and that. I just don’t see that you’d get it through our system. If someone is willing to put in the time and energy and a charismatic figure who can galvanise the country into seeing that there is some desirability in shedding a state identity and moving to some different structure, full marks. at http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/pubs/pops/pop35/chapter3.htm

A Darth Vader (a pseudonym?), apparently a Defence systems engineer, who works at SAAB systems, supports abolition of the states, as at (in duplicate) http://www.saabsystems.com.au/fame/anca.htm and http://www.celsiustech.com.au/fame/anca.htm

Mr J Murray of Cheltenham supports state abolition at
http://www.moneymanagement.com.au/articles/bd/0c0049bd.asp

Australia’s Journal of Political Character Assassination, Vol 5, Number 6, right at the bottom, reminds us “that Australia needs to abolish state governments altogether” at http://members.optushome.com.au/thesquiz/v5n6.htm

Marcus Larsen from London supports the abolition of our states at
http://jinx.sistm.unsw.edu.au/~greenlft/1999/386/386p10.htm

Mark Drummond, in a letter to the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald dated 29 December 2000, supports the abolition of state governments at
http://www.smh.com.au/news/0101/01/text/letters.html

YOUTH/EDUCATION

The report ‘Youth Vision for the Year 2010’ (a compilation of the Australia 2010 vision statements detailed by 76 student teams from a 1996 Australian business Council initiative, states the aim “to abolish state governments, establishing a two-tier system of regional and federal government by 2010”, at http://www.dsf.org.au/papers/ol/yvr2010/yvr2010.html

“That we should abolish the states” was a topic of secondary school debates as set out on the Western Australian Debating League Inc. website at
http://www.wadl.org.au/6_1.htm

The issue of abolition state governments and establishing regional governments (including support for the idea from Sir Ninian Stephen in a 1988 Australia Day address) is addressed in a 1999 document published by the Australian council of State School Organisations (ACSSO) titled ‘Discovering democracy’, as recorded on pages 27, 35 and 36 of 97 (pages 19, 27 and 28 of the actual book) at http://www.acsso.org.au/pdf/civic_kit_final.pdf

ENVIRONMENTAL FOCUS

In a report titled ‘An Environmental Framework for Managing Growth – South East Queensland Case Study’ (numbered 21), Ian Schmidt of the SEQ 2001 Regional Resource Unit, Brisbane, supports Brisbane Lord Mayor Jim Soorley’s idea of regional government and abolition of state governments, and also mentions that a colleague Phil Heywood supports metropolitan government, at (on pages 19 and 20 of 68) http://chm.environment.gov.au/publications/biodivser_10/pubs/ch17_wkshps.pdf

Doug Cocks, of CSIRO Wildlife & Ecology, in a talk to the APS Futures Forum, Canberra, Dec 1999, titled ‘ Big Picture Scenarios For Australia, With A Comment On The Implications For Public Administration’, supports a move to some 30 regional governments in place of state governments, as at (in triplicate) http://www.labshop.com.au/dougcocks/FUTUREFORUMTALK.htm
http://www.labshop.com.au/dougcocks/bourndapub.htm
http://www.labshop.com.au/dougcocks/evattfoundation.html

Regional governments are envisaged by Barney Foran of the CSIRO, in his ‘ Looking for Opportunity and Avoiding Obvious Potholes: Some Future Influences on Agriculture to 2050’, at the 9th Australian Agronomy Conference, Wagga Wagga, 1998, as at http://www.regional.org.au/au/asa/1998/plenary/foran.htm and (in duplicate) http://life.csu.edu.au/argonomy/papers/invite/foran/foran.html

Regional governments are supported by participants at an Environmental futures workshop, as stated at http://www.dwe.csiro.au/futures/ecumene/fg1govba.htm

Phillip Toyne and Adam Spencer discuss their views that we should eliminate state governments and establishing regional governments based on bio-regions at
http://www.abc.net.au/rn/science/earth/stories/s10903.htm

LEGAL/CONSTITUTIONAL

Sir Maurice Byers, CBE, QC, former Commonwealth Solicitor-General, discusses abolition of the states favourably as recorded in November 1999 at
http://www.uow.edu.au/law/civics/updates/maurice_byers.html

Strong support for the abolition of the states and/or a two tier system is expressed at a Law Society sponsored People’s Constitutional Convention (attended by Peter Woods, Phillip Neuss, Maurie Stack, Mark Drummond and others) on 27 May 1995, as at http://www.lawsocnsw.asn.au/resources/lsj/archive/jul1995/89_1.html

The Honourable Justice Michael Kirby AC CMG in a 17 February 1995 speech in Canberra titled ‘Human Rights – the International Dimension’, recognises the abolition of the states as a viable future reform initiative, as at http://lawfoundation.net.au/resources/kirby/papers/19950217_senate.html

Murray Gleeson AC, Chief Justice of NSW, in an interview recorded on 11 May 1995, responding to the question “What does the Australian Constitution do for the Australian people?” explored the possibility of eliminating the states in favour of regional government or administration, at http://www.uow.edu.au/law/civics/expert/10_gleeson.html

NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT, BUSINESS, INDUSTRY

Emeritus Professor Lance A Endersbee AO FTSE supports a significant restructure of our system of government, citing the immense costs and other problems of our present system, in a paper ‘ National Development and the Constitution ‘ (originally published in ATSE Focus [The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering], No. 107, May/Jun 1999, as reproduced at the FNR site at http://national-renewal.org.au/papers/endersbee/nat-development.shtml

The suggestion to abolish state governments was raised at a workshop of the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI), at (in triplicate)
http://www.ahuri.edu.au/research/policyproject/wa_speakers.html
www.housing.wa.gov.au/policy/policy_2029notes.PDF
www.ahuri.edu.au/research/policyproject/pdf/wa_workshop.pdf

Managing Director of AVIS Australia Mr Luke Medley indicated that business wants to get rid of the States, as recorded on page 20 of 38 at www.wentworth.nsw.gov.au/minutes/minjun98.pdf

An article titled ‘Corporations Law solution get rid of state government’, Tony McLean in The Australian newspaper, Tue 25 July 2000, page 32 is at
http://ink.news.com.au/theaustralian/issues/legal%20system/corp1.htm

HISTORICAL

‘Australian Federation Papers’, dated 1903, in the NSW State Library collection, document groups attempting to abolish state governments shortly after Federation, as at http://www.naa.gov.au/Publications/Research_guides/fedguide/commonwealth/nsw/nsw9+.htm

A document titled ‘Most Favor End of State Parliaments’, referring to the Gallup Poll (apparently in 1942) in which a majority of Australians supported Abolition of State Governments, is at http://john.curtin.edu.au/letters/category/newspapers/clippings/N.012t.html

Reference to a T. W. McCristal of the Australian Republican Party and their proposal to abolish the states around the 1950s is at http://www.arts.monash.edu.au/ncas/teach/resources/austudies/trr.html

The ‘National Republicans Fighting Platform’ favours abolition of the states in favour of provinces at
http://www.alphalink.com.au/~eureka/platform.htm

Jack Lang taking ‘abolition of the States’ to an election in 1933 is referred to at
http://workers.labor.net.au/26/b_sportspage_year.html

There is a reference to a document titled ‘Abolition of the states [manuscript] : Australia’s great leap forward?’ by Louise A Chappell, 1996. — [1], 13 leaves ; 30 cm.
Typescript, Awarded the Wentworth Medal for Prose, 1996 (University of Sydney)
Bibliography: leaves 12-13, abn96366228, NU CONTRIBUTED CATALOGUING
Subjects: Federal government — Australia. State governments — Australia. Australia — Economic conditions — 1965- Australia — Social conditions – 1965…
at http://wwwlib.qut.edu.au/resources/databases/ANB/1996/novalph.txt

On Australia Day 1988, “Geoffrey Robertson was the guest speaker at a function in Launceston where he advocated the abolition of all state governments in favour of a central government and municipal governments with more extensive powers than exist at present”, as recorded at page 19 of 35 (of the record of a public meeting at Alyangula, dated 2 May 1989) at http://www.nt.gov.au/lant/parliament/committees/condev/transcripts/aly020589.pdf

DISCUSSION FORUMS

The question “Should we get rid of State Governments?”, at an MRPC (MR apparently standing for Michael Richardson) forum, invites responses at http://www.hillsonline.com.au/forum/f7forum.htm
and documents supportive responses from Bill, 4 x anonymous, Julie, Fred, Yana and Stuart, at http://www.mrpc.com.au/mrpcrules/forum/forum/f7forum.htm

Terry Burton from Alice springs recommends the abolition of state governments at
http://www.railpage.org.au/ausrail/98july/msg00785.html

Howard Lowndes (lannet@lannet.com.au)
supports getting rid of the states and replacing them with regional councils at
http://www.anu.edu.au/mail-archives/link/link0004/0019.html

Steve, Grant, spud and DV support abolition of state governments at Dr Karl’s Self-Service Science Forum at http://www2.abc.net.au/science/k2/stn/august2000/
(scroll to bottom of left hand section, select “earlier posts” and then look for [suggest you use “edit” then “find” and type in Marx] “Marxist Workers Party” – see posts with ID numbers 110888, 111992, 112130, 112140 and 112182)

One or more Andrews believes state governments should be abolished and super councils established in their place, to save billions of dollars, at http://www2.abc.net.au/news/tax/forum/posts/topic436.shtm
http://www2b.abc.net.au/news/forum/forum16/posts/topic212.shtm (refer post id 212 and 252)
and http://www2b.abc.net.au/news/forum/forum18/posts/topic491.shtm (refer post id 491 and to support from Wally [post id 524] and Merric [post id 547])

A Simon states that we should “get rid of the states, and give half of their powers to the National government, and half to the local governments.” at (refer post id: 1829)
http://www2.abc.net.au/referendum99/forum/posts/topic1794.shtm

Kerry Young asks the question “what do you think about getting rid of state government?” at http://www2b.abc.net.au/publicrecord/qldelection/posts/topic426.shtm

“Scotto”, on 23 March 2001, expressed support for the abolition of state governments on an ABC discussion forum at (post id: 3617)
http://www2b.abc.net.au/news/forum/forum20/posts/topic3535.shtm

Bob S supports stronger local government and the abolition of state governments at Dr Karl’s Self-Service Science Forum at (post id: 35369)
at http://www2.abc.net.au/science/k2/stn-archive1/posts/topic35266.shtm

Daryn Voss (and someone else whose identity is not clear) supports the abolition of state governments at Dr Karl’s Self-Service Science Forum at (post id: 26492) at
http://www2.abc.net.au/science/k2/stn/january2000/posts/topic22539.shtm

Tom, Dragan, Mark Drummond, Dionisio Camacho, Alan De Vendra and David Bofinger respond positively to the public debate forum addressing the question of “States: Should they be abolished?” at the pages http://www.publicdebate.com.au/is/193/f1.html and http://www.publicdebate.com.au/is/193/f2.html

Geoff, Klaas Woldring and Erik the Red support abolition of state in the public debate forum in response to the question of “Government: Does our system need changing?” at the pages http://www.publicdebate.com.au/is/14/f1.html and http://www.publicdebate.com.au/is/14/f2.html

3 Responses to Reform Australia

  1. My vote certainly goes towards abolition of state governments in Australia. That is the only way for this country to move ahead and to become trully independent.

  2. specialletters says:

    Sad news Bid to protect the Gulgong Hospital might have to wait | TopNews New Zealand
    This doesn’t convince me that just having one BIG Government will improve things.
    Gillard just wouldn’t give any real answer re Gulgong. Tebbutt it seems cannot do anything because the hospital money is now controlled by Canberra. So Rudd push to centralise is achieveing nothing.

    We need to encourage people to live in small towns………..

    • eclipsenow says:

      We need to encourage people to live in small towns………..

      Yes, but how? I guess it depends on the viability of their local economies.

      Health is part State and part Federal. I know quite a few people in health that wanted Kev to carry through with his promise that the Feds would take over! The duplication in administration and red tape is unreal. So while a National government department of health would simply set policy on splitting the funds between various ‘regions’ on a per-capita basis (and needs basis, for outback areas that might require some extra services because of the vast distances involved), the local regions themselves would run things. Local hospital boards would be set up. Devolution of powers (if not funds) is occurring right now in England. The Economist calls it quite radical!

      I imagine local government Shires would have the powers to split the funds they were allocated as they saw fit. Local government elections would sort out issues such as smaller local hospitals and larger regional, multi-council hospitals (like Westmead). For some things it is better at the super-local level, like keeping Gulgong and even North Epping’s Poplar’s hospitals going. Imagine if we’d been able to vote about that! Local democracy, whether at the immediate council or coalition of councils levels, would decide!

      Indeed, councils could even vote to merge their administration resources and become a larger super-council, as has happened in Queensland. Or not. It would depend on the vote.

      But the bottom line to remember in all this: Local councils are currently the kicking boys of both the State and Federal governments. Imagine if they had various Constitutionally guaranteed powers, and there was no State government bossing them around? There were just clear powers spelt out between Shires and the National government! Now that would be an interesting system! That might Aussies actually engaging with local politics again.

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