John Quiggin writes in The Conversation (19.1.17) about recent discussion of the notion that Australia’s states should be abolished. The author argues that, rather than reducing levels of bureaucratic duplication, the proposal would create unhelpful centralisation of authority, and underestimates the strength and utility of regional identities.
‘One of the hardy perennials of Australian politics is the claim that the states are obsolete and should be done away with. This view has adherents on all sides of politics, particularly those in the Commonwealth government with long and frustrating experience of dealing with the states. The latest call has come, not for the first time, from former prime minister Bob Hawke.
‘On the face of it, abolition of the states would imply a highly centralised system in which the powers of the states were transferred to the Commonwealth. However, few proponents of state abolition accept this implication. Instead, it is argued, the three-tier system of federal, state and local governments could be replaced by a two-tier system with 20 or so regional governments, with a resulting reduction in the number of politicians and bureaucrats.
‘This idea sounds appealing enough in the abstract, which is how it is normally presented. In practice, however, it is necessary to define regions with natural boundaries.’
Bob Hawke continues pushing the ‘scrap the states’ barrow
Former prime minister Bob Hawke used an address at the Woodford Folk Festival to reignite the debate over whether the states should be retained in Australia’s federation.