Balanced budget amendment

I may have been too hasty in judging our Treasury Secretary. My own fault for taking the word of the SMH. I, of course, remain adamantly against raising taxes to fix our current problems and repeat what I wrote yesterday:

Stop fixating on the deficit. Do the specific things that make the economy work better. Lower public spending. Reduce regulation. Fix up IR. Encourage private industry in every way you can.

But with my morning reading of the AFR there was an important detail left out of the SMH story. The AFR headline reads:

Push to lift GST, cut income tax

This is, of course, different and even if initially the size of the tax take stayed the same this would be a genuine benefit, both in terms of economic prosperity and broadening the tax base.

But the problem remains how you could make such a shift stick. If we raise the GST, it will stay raised forever. But if we cut income taxes, it is not likely at all that they would stay down. Governments are revenue hungry and very weak on keeping the lid on expenditure. There really needs to be something in place to ensure governments do not pocket one tax increase and then go back to where we were on the others.

An idea whose time may have come is the notion of a balanced budget constitutional restriction on governments. It appears that some kind of critical mass may have taken place in the United States over whether enough states have passed a balanced budget amendment that must lead to a constitutional convention which will determine whether or not the federal government of the United States must by constitutional restriction maintain a balanced budget. The article is titled, Balanced budget convention gains steam as congressman calls for official evaluation and this is how it begins:

Rep. Duncan Hunter on Tuesday asked Congress to evaluate whether enough states have officially called for a constitutional convention to propose a balanced budget amendment — marking the next step toward what could be an historic gathering.

Mr. Hunter, California Republican, said Congress should take stock of where things stand after Michigan last week approved an official call for a balanced budget amendment convention. According to some analysts, Michigan’s move makes it the 34th state to request a convention.

For something as unconventional as the notion of a balanced budget amendment to have passed at different times and in different states through 34 different state legislatures shows there is an understanding of the problems that runaway federal spending has caused. The multiplying economic problems that have befallen one economy after another due to the insane levels of public spending after the GFC are due almost in their entirety to the spending that followed the financial crisis and not to the crisis itself. But you almost have to be a non-economist even to notice. Economists still think that C+I+G provides them with some form of understanding about what to do in recessions, with no lessons learned from the past five years.

Since we will already be having a vote on amending the constitution at our own next election, I cannot see why we shouldn’t include one on a balanced budget as well. If we really want to fix our governments’ addiction to higher spending we will have to tie their hands. If they want the money they will have to raise our taxes. Then we’ll see just a tad more care in what they do and how they spend.

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63 Responses to Balanced budget amendment

  1. Driftforge

    The problem with a balanced budget is that it leaves revenue up to a pliable forecast, and expenditure up to a pliable government.

    Go one better.

    The expenses for this years budget must be less than or equal to the revenue actually received last year.

    This is, in practice, the singular discipline required to have a ‘medium term balanced budget’.

  2. Wanderer

    Push to lift GST, cut income tax

    Therein lies a real problem. You are correct that if the GST is raised it will never be lowered. Just look at the UK with its VAT which started at 10% then was changed and changed again by various governments with some goods charged at a new higher rate etc etc. It is now 20%!

    Anyway the GST is (supposed to be) a State tax with proceeds returned to the States albeit not uniformly. And in return the States were supposed to abolish a raft of State taxes but they did not fully comply. And even the GST has not been applied uniformly – politics again!

    So is there an implied “benefit” of increasing the GST to relieve the Commonwealth from allocating other funds from general taxation receipts to the States? Well give me a break, that is unless pigs really do fly.

    As Ronald Reagan famously said, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” And in that context the best “solution” to our problem would be to reduce the size of government and in particular slash government welfare programs.

    A final comment: Would anyone be prepared to wager on the accuracy of Treasury forecasts?

  3. Craig Mc

    The expenses for this years budget must be less than or equal to the revenue actually received last year.

    Doesn’t Texas have something like this?

  4. Empire Strikes Back

    Without a commitment to indexation of thresholds, any talk of tinkering with income tax is just smoke and mirrors. As far as GST goes, the base must be extended (universal) before any increase in the rate is considered. Note that none of those proposing changes to the tax mix has unequivocally called for a cap (let alone reduction) in public sector share of GDP. They are bullshitters looking for devious ways to preserve statanism.

    The expenses for this years budget must be less than or equal to the revenue actually received last year.

    This is, in practice, the singular discipline required to have a ‘medium term balanced budget’.

    Elegant in its brutality. I live in hope.

  5. Joe

    The ability to change the revenue side of the equation has to be taken out of the hands of the politicians. Change the constitution to hard code the rate and type of tax so that parliaments cannot change either. I suggest 15% GST on everything except land, buildings and company equity (i.e. assets), 10% of which is to go to the state in which the buyer lives, 5% to the commonweath government.

    Then the amendment restricting this years spending to the amount of revenue collected last year will force restraint on spending.

  6. Gab

    The expenses for this years budget must be less than or equal to the revenue actually received last year.

    The “don’t spend more than you can earn” principle? The Left refer to that as “austerity”.

  7. adrian

    at least limit gov’t spending to a percentage of GDP, except for the purposes of funding a declared war.

  8. adrian

    or require the HoR approved a % deficit with a 2/3 majority.

  9. Joe

    Oh and introduce penalties for failure to adhere to the amendments.
    I suggest, all parliamentarians of both houses be sacked, and fresh elections be held to elect new parliamentarians of both houses. The crop of members that were sacked to be prohibited from standing for ANY political body for the rest of their lives.

  10. Rabz

    I cannot see why we shouldn’t include one on a balanced budget as well.

    What on earth would be the point?

    There is no way that labor and the greenfilth would adhere to such an amendment and if they didn’t, nothing would happen to them by way of sanctioning either.

    If they didn’t raise taxes they’d simply borrow billions – this was how we ended up being saddled with $360+ billion in Ruff/Lardarse/Goose/Greenfilth debt in the first place.

    Unless there were real, criminal penalties for transgressors, why bother?

  11. Token

    You are correct that if the GST is raised it will never be lowered. Just look at the UK with its VAT which started at 10% then was changed and changed again by various governments with some goods charged at a new higher rate etc etc. It is now 20%!

    Once the VAT was raised, the squander monkeys then raised the Income Tax rates to deal with an “emergency” (i.e. they did not want to wind back the entitlements & welfare).

  12. Token

    What on earth would be the point?

    There is no way that labor and the greenfilth would adhere to such an amendment and if they didn’t, nothing would happen to them by way of sanctioning either.

    There is always and emergency which the squandermonkeys will use to create an “exception” to re-open the floodgates. Then the risk of “slowing the economy & causing unemployment” is used to ensure the floodgates never are ever closed again.

    Of course when the pressure ramps up they will revert to claims of racism, mysogyny, homophobia to distract.

    It is predictable as it works so well and big government statist conservatives always fall for the “emergency” decoy at the start of the process.

  13. Greg

    Saw this story recently citing Tennessee as the 22nd State to call for the convention. Mark Levin based his book The Liberty Amendments on article V, worth a read.

  14. The Pugilist

    I repost part of my post on another earlier thread as it is relevant here.

    I think the only way change will occur is if there is a seismic shift in federal financial relations. The commonwealth needs to give a whole heap of taxing/revenue raising powers to the states and then just compltely vacate a vast array of policy areas. Close down entire departments and abolish a large range of programs. Then the states will be forced to reassess the role of government and we will see competition emerge. Competition between jurisdictions to attract labour and capital and therefore a revenue base.
    While there is only tinkering around the edges, we will continue to see creeping growth of the commonwealth and a gradual expansion of the public sector.
    I am pessimistic that any politicians, federal or state, have the requisite cajones (or indeed philosophical underpinnings) to take this on.

    I think income tax powers should be returned to the states. Payroll taxes and a whole heap of other nuisance taxes should also be abolished. States should be free to levy land taxes and mineral royalties. Then the commonwealth could live off the gst which is most obviously a consumption tax. Keep capital gains tax, but simplify it and abolish all taxes on superannuation and saving – this would ensure savings are only taxed when they are drawn down and consumed.
    Ultimately this would get us back much closer to the intentions of the founders of our nation and authors of our constitution. Then I think a balanced budget constitutional rule should be put in place for all jurisdictions.
    Chances of this happening…close to zero.

  15. H B Bear

    Pugilist – yep. The Commonwealth should hand education and health back to the States – which would force them to use their existing income tax powers. Put a high floor on GST transfers to other States to prevent the kind of policy free riding seen in Tasmania and SA.

    This would give genuinely Liberal State governments (if there are any) the possibility to create real low tax, pro-business, small government States and create an Australian Texas or Alabama. It would make inter-State migration of people and businesses a real and genuine option. At present efficient State governments are simply penalised through the Cth grants commission formula.

  16. H B Bear

    Steve – the real danger of increasing the GST is once it is done once it will be done again … and again. 10% … 12.5% … 15% … and then you are in the realm of European rates. Income tax relief will simply be inflated away via the government’s best friend, bracket creep.

    At least now we enjoy a Mexican stand-off where neither the Libs nor Labor want to go first.

  17. The Pugilist

    HB Bear, I would rather make the commonwealth live off of the gst themselves – around $50 billion per year as it is now – have to beg the states for anything more.
    The commonwealth grants commission would be abolished as vertical fiscal imbalance would be almost cut to zero and so there should be no need for transfers between the levels of government. If anything, the transfers would reverse direction. Horizontal fiscal equalization would be replaced with interstate jurisdictional competition.

  18. H B Bear

    Anything that prevents the sort of buck passing we see every day in health and education would be a good thing.

  19. Andrew

    You’ve been lenient on the fool. His “cut income taxes” was simply an acknowledgement that 5% bracket creep in avg tax rates will not be tolerated for 10yrs so there would be partial income tax cutting plus GST hike.

    If Abbott666 raised GST to 20%, giving states $100bn and then cut gen purpose grants by $50bn, the headlines would read “Abbott666 cuts $50bn – schools, hospitals, kids, poor hardest hit” followed by “sympathetic Blabbersac opposes Abbott666 austerity” and “March in March to protest cuts.”

  20. Driftforge

    OT [One of the less publicised problems with GST distribution is that the formula used actually acts against a state that chooses to raise taxes internally. Raise more taxes internally, receive less GST.

    To put it the other way, Tasmania could scrap all its internal taxation and would then end up with substantially more GST transfers.]

    Back on balanced budgets though: If you are going to institute a constitutional amendment, take away the governments capacity to issue debt that expires beyond the term of its government.

  21. Joe

    And to reiterate, you have to take the decision of what rates and activities are to be taxed out of the hands of the politicians. They will increase taxes and spending no matter what they are given. They always want more. This does not mystically change just because the states rather than the commonwealth are given the power to tax.

    Puglist raises some good ideas, but they will fail in the long run unless they are enshrined in the constitution, where mere governments would find it difficult to change. I also agree that sanctions are needed to reign in the inherent corruption of politics.

  22. Indigo

    Increasing the GST would deliver a body blow self funded retirees. Raise income tax I say. As a wounded veteran a of 60 cents in the marginal dollar, combined with 17 percent mortgage interest, it’s time the current generation of workers suffered a bit. Teach them to vote Labor.

  23. Indigo

    Teach them not to vote Labor again, it should have read!

  24. stackja

    Liberty Quotes
    There is no art which one government sooner learns of another than that of draining money from the pockets of the people.
    — Adam Smith

  25. The Pugilist

    Income tax relief will simply be inflated away via the government’s best friend, bracket creep

    I agree, that’s why we need to hand it back to the states. The threat of interstate migration will keep income tax rates in check. It is all about incentives.

    Puglist raises some good ideas, but they will fail in the long run unless they are enshrined in the constitution

    Actually Joe, what I suggest is largely enshrined in the constitution already. It’s just that we have a centralist, activist high court that has given most of their decisions towards the commonwealth and allows them to expand into areas where they have no business, constitutionally speaking.

  26. Andrew

    The balanced budget amendment makes no sense because it would just be a tokenistic target that governments would break or amend once the left got into office. Also, what would be the punishment if they broke the balanced budget amendment. In an open market economy it is too hard to forecast and control what employment, inflation, revenue, etc might be.

  27. caveman

    Just Cut company and personal income tax. That would be sensible.

  28. The Pugilist

    The balanced budget amendment makes no sense because it would just be a tokenistic target that governments would break or amend once the left got into office. Also, what would be the punishment if they broke the balanced budget amendment. In an open market economy it is too hard to forecast and control what employment, inflation, revenue, etc might be.

    Give each government the ability to balance the budget over a three year term and even give them a (generous) 3 per cent margin for error. If they don’t achieve it, the entire ministry must exit parliament at the next election, never to return. Pensions and gold passes would be forfeited…

  29. Joe

    Pug,
    According to WIKI(?), the commonwealth seized power to tax (both income and sales) legally and in accordance with the constitution as decided by the High Court.
    Upon reading the various sections, Sec. 51(ii), 90, 114, 53, 55, it appears that the states have virtually no rights to tax. They are all overridden by High Court decisions. Likewise there is nothing in the constitution that preserves the rights to impose mining royalties to the states. This also was decided by the High Court in that the MRRT was deemed constitutional and as the federal law overrides state law, it follows that the federal gov. could in theory extinguish state royalty rights.

  30. mundi

    Instead of all this talk about what they should do, how about talk of what they will do?

    Will we see tax brackets adjusted for inflation (Gillard’s carbon tax compensation didn’t even cover inflation bracket creep – let alone compensate us for anything).

    If Abbott is smart he will slash spending, people won’t give a rate about squealing government employees when they are handed a tax cut. Even $20 per week would be a huge help to most families.

    Also, don’t put it past labor/green to block supply.

  31. Kingsley

    Scrap all taxes bar GST. Set a rate that is considered the right size for the govt sector in the economy. Rate can only be altered by two thirds majority in both house and senate. Fixed portion of GST revenue required by States allocated out on a per capita basis full stop.
    This will mean earning and saving are tax free, spending is taxed hard. This will make Australia the most attractive place to run a business in the world (although some work on IR still required)

    (And I’ll be out of a job (tax accountant))

  32. Perth Trader

    Joe..Your partly right. From memory Vic. gave up its right to mineral resource royalties to the FED. Govt. but not the other states. The Resources Super profits Tax was going to confiscate all the royalties for minerals from the states. The Gillard team , after deposing Rudd renamed and reformulated the RSPT and called it the Mineral Resources Rent Tax , MRRT which allowed the states to keep there royalties and the royalties could be deducted from the MRRT that was owed to the FED. Govt. Yes the MRRT was constitutional but the RSPT was very questionable because it over rode states rights.

  33. Also, what would be the punishment if they broke the balanced budget amendment

    You can’t have it balanced in the same year; it has to be balanced to the actual received in the year prior. That way the pliability is limited. It also needs to be backed up by a prohibition from issuing debt beyond the current term of government.

    The federal government should at the very least legislate that limitation for the states and territories.

    Punishment? Governor General calls immediate elections, and no member of the executive may stand in that election or any thereafter.

  34. Joe

    Perth Trader,

    Yes the MRRT was constitutional but the RSPT was very questionable because it over rode states rights.

    Except, that there is nothing in the constitution about the rights of states to tax at all!

  35. The Pugilist

    They are all overridden by High Court decisions.

    There’s the problem right there. The high court has completely bastardised our constitution to the point that just about the entire body of constitutional law would be unrecognisable when compared with the intentions of the fathers of federation. It would almost be like looking at one of those anti-drug campaign photos of the meth users before and after. Just one high court decision can lead to this…just say no…

  36. Sir Fred Lenin

    When are the useless alp/green fascists who got us into this mess ,going to be Punished? When are their assets and pansions going to be confiscated? When are they going to be sentevcad to life in prison? When is their partiesassets going to be confiscated? When are those parties going to be banned as criminal. Organisations? One can only hope ! Still we do have the RC into the communist Mafia unions.now theres an opportunity!if the law trade people running it are honest !and dont snicker at that statement!

  37. Ubique

    There is no chance of the GST being lifted. While Tasmanians and South Australians might be trampled in their rush to support increasing the GST, Western Australians will never agree to it. Not while we’re getting back less than half of the GST collected in WA, with this rate set to fall to 10%. Bugger off Parkinson, if you want to raise the GST you’ll need to persuade WA to secede first.

  38. Baldrick

    As so often happens with income tax cuts … the government giveth with one hand and then taketh away with the other. It’s happened time after time.

    I wouldn’t trust any of the snivelling spin-merchants in Canberra, unless as Rabz said, there were real criminal penalties for politicians who promise one thing and then deliver another.

  39. Andrew

    Gillard’s carbon tax compensation didn’t even cover inflation bracket creep – let alone compensate us for anything

    At my income (ie more than a teacherpolicemannurse, but less than a senior union official) it didn’t even cover the postage stamp to tell her what a fuckwittedness policy it was.

    If it wasn’t actually against the law I would be shooting any ALP Liars who squealed “but you got compensated!”

  40. wreckage

    Raising the GST presents an ideal opportunity to bribe WA, NSW, and QLD into it by offering a floor rate, a fixed percentage that returns to the state that raised the tax in the first place. A percentage can then be assigned to welfare and other services, just as though the states paid income tax; say, 25%. The 25% is then assigned for welfare or whatever the fuck it takes to get the mendicants on board.

  41. wreckage

    The point is that income and other taxes go up and down, but raising the GST permanently increases the proportion of the tax take that is derived from GST, and offers an opportunity to reduce the amount of State income derived from stamp duty and other stupid shit.

  42. Joe

    wreckage,

    A percentage can then be assigned to welfare and other services, just as though the states paid income tax; say, 25%.

    Ok, as a W.A. citizen, I’ll only accept 100%. A bribe you say!

  43. Joe

    DOH!!!.
    I meant 100% GST returned to the state it’s collected in of course. Stupid reading comprehension!!

  44. The Pugilist

    I meant 100% GST returned to the state it’s collected in of course. Stupid reading comprehension!!

    Joe, there’s no way of knowing this. The fairest way to distribute it is an equal share of GST revenue per person. The current distribution is measured as the deviation from an equal per person share.

  45. .

    Kingsley
    #1250681, posted on April 3, 2014 at 1:55 pm
    Scrap all taxes bar GST. Set a rate that is considered the right size for the govt sector in the economy. Rate can only be altered by two thirds majority in both house and senate. Fixed portion of GST revenue required by States allocated out on a per capita basis full stop.
    This will mean earning and saving are tax free, spending is taxed hard. This will make Australia the most attractive place to run a business in the world (although some work on IR still required)

    (And I’ll be out of a job (tax accountant))

    If only. We could cut government spending in half and have the same outcomes. Hence we may not need to raise the GST at all.

  46. Joe

    Pugilist,

    Joe, there’s no way of knowing this. The fairest way to distribute it is an equal share of GST revenue per person. The current distribution is measured as the deviation from an equal per person share.

    Excuses, excuses. In cases where the purchase is made at a store, it’s obvious where the purchase was made.
    In cases of electronic purchase, the shipping destination is required, is it not – how else are you going to get your goods? In any case, the account involved in the transaction will have the residential address of the purchaser. It would be simple to require the merchant to require the state of the purchaser – they already gather all sorts of irrelevant information from their customers.

  47. Joe

    Thinking about GST collection, any account involved transaction could have the GST collected by the transacting agency, i.e. the banks and associated transaction facilitators. They already know the address of the purchasing account. This would absolve the trader from collecting the GST except on conditions of cash transactions.

  48. The Pugilist

    Dot, if we gave the commonwealth the GST, CGT, company tax, customs duties and the PRRT, that would leave them with around $150 billion a year, which is more than adequate if they vacated health, education and environmental policy.
    If the States had the income tax base, they would have around an extra $150 billion (maybe more if they totally revamped their other taxes – eg replacing payroll tax with income tax). The commonwealth currently spends around $400 billion. I doubt the states would need to spend an extra $250 billion to fulfill their greater responsibilities.
    With the improved incentives states would have to actually facilitate and grow a tax base (under threat of interstate and international migration of labour and capital), the potential gains are massive. In the order of $100 billion+ per year.
    Yes this is back of the envelope, but if governments can play the game of inventing big numbers to panic people into accepting state intrusion, we (true classical) liberals and libertarians need to be prepared to do the same to promote the ideals of freedom and entrepreneurship…

  49. The Pugilist

    Joe, the key point is what is the need for that information? The compliance burden would be huge and we can already get close to approximating the distribution using population or nominal spending shares.
    WA is being shagged up the backside. There is no doubt about this. But there’s no need to get sidetracked by an inconsequential issue and lose focus on the big picture. That is WA should not be treated like this in a true federation.

  50. Joe

    Pugilist,

    Joe, the key point is what is the need for that information? The compliance burden would be huge and we can already get close to approximating the distribution using population or nominal spending shares.

    What is the need for anything. Look, merchants already collect this type of information. Any electronic transaction could have the GST collected by the banks or transacting agency. Even overseas transactions could be charged GST via credit and debit card transactions. NO collection of information would be required. Accounts have the owners addresses and so do debit and credit cards. Cash transactions occur at a location and simply require the merchant to collect the GST at that location. Electronic transactions would entail NO compliance costs to the merchant and very little for the banks.

  51. The Pugilist

    Joe, this information is not collected now. You are complaining about WA not receiving their fair share of GST based on their share of the population. That’s the benchmark now and it is what you are using to criticise how the GST pool is shared out. My point is why is it inadequate to use this approximation? Why do we need the additional information that we don’t have now? It wouldn’t change the fundamental problems which is WA paying excessively to support the mendicant states. The incentives for states to take actions to improve their own circumstances are all screwed up. We don’t need more information to know this. So why get sidetracked by a trivial issue?

  52. .

    Pug

    In the early 1960s, total tax collection was 17% of GDP and we had teritary subsidies, a much bigger military and less privatized industry. We also had government assistance to the poor.

    We had good outcomes, good services and spent wisely.

    Given economic growth and privatisation, I’m not sure we need more than the 10% GST as it stands (perhaps applied equally [and only on value added of real property development]).

  53. .

    Perhaps otherwise a LVT capped at 1% for each layer of government (no exemptions), so that your total tax bill wouldn’t exceed 3% of UCV.

    Of course, people would pay implicitly (as their super fund or company they own) would also pay, but the impact would be a lot more bearable.

    If the government wants to expand the tax base in that case, they can privatise, expedite rights at sea and seabeds or otherwise allow for more mineral exploration licences.

    This would raise 150-200 bn of revenue, more than enough for an efficient, optimal level of spending.

  54. The Pugilist

    Dot, I completely agree about not increasing the gst at all. One way to ensure the gst wouldn’t be raised is to require all state legislatures to pass legislation to increase it. I was just throwing out some figures broadly based on amounts for each type of tax in the last federal budget. I think if the commonwealth were at the mercy of the states when raising revenue (rather than the states having to constantly go begging to the commonwealth), we would be far better off. Also, having the states compete with each other for labour and capital would provide decent incentives for states not to raise taxes too much. Even if the states colluded, the incentives for a single state to cheat on the ‘cartel’ would increase. That’s why opec and other cartels do not have free reign…they need to be aware of the incentives for other cartel members to cheat…we, the people can make it work for us.

  55. Sid

    Take progress where you can get it, but if you squeenze the cancerous organ at the Commonwealth level it will just ooze out at the state and territory level. If you can design them to work, if, then constraints need to be imposed across all tiers of government. Not intentionally spruiking for anyone, but the CIS’s Strengthening Australia’s Fiscal Institutions and Fiscal Rules for Limited Government may be worth a read

  56. Also, don’t put it past labor/green to block supply.

    Automatic DD election and straight down the drain for both of them if they do that.

  57. Tel

    Also, what would be the punishment if they broke the balanced budget amendment?

    I like Allen West’s suggestion of phased automatic budget stabilizers. So if you go over 20% debt to GDP ratio, all Commonwealth pay rises become instantly illegal until you get it back under the 20%. If you go over 40% debt to GDP ratio then money is automatically taken out of various non-essential budgets. At 60% another phase kicks in, etc.

    Incremental steps of pain imposed as reminders of the pain they are imposing on future generations of debt slaves.

  58. Tel

    The high court has completely bastardised our constitution to the point that just about the entire body of constitutional law would be unrecognisable when compared with the intentions of the fathers of federation.

    In retrospect, having the ability for multiple state courts to come to a collective ruling on constitutional questions would bias it towards state’s rights rather than biasing it towards the abolition of states which is what we have now.

  59. In retrospect, having the ability for multiple state courts to come to a collective ruling on constitutional questions would bias it towards state’s rights rather than biasing it towards the abolition of states which is what we have now.

    Something like a high court composed of the Chief Justices of each state?

  60. Rabz

    Also, don’t put it past labor/green to block supply.

    Automatic DD election and straight down the drain for both of them if they do that.

    An indisputable fact – if a DD is forced by the obstinacy and stupidity of non governmental parties/independents the electorate will unleash their anger on those they consider responsible for dragging them back to the polls – and here’s a hint – it won’t be the government the punters will be angry with.

  61. Tel

    Something like a high court composed of the Chief Justices of each state?

    No, I’d like to see a judgement from each state ruled separately, with a default to less Commonwealth power. You want a situation where people feel like they are working for theor state, rather than feeling like a Commonwealth public servant.

  62. Garry B

    Adding massive debt has been the Labor Way. The solution is simple if the Conservatives were firm of purpose. Simply announce that when in government all debts contracted by Labor would NOT be honoured. If such announcement is believed in debt markets, Labor would probably be unable to borrow. For asset sales, announce that those which have not been agreed upon by the opposition will be reviewed (and possibly repudiated) upon change of government. You can not rely on politicians to keep promises-other people need to be the enforcers.

  63. The Pugilist

    In retrospect, having the ability for multiple state courts to come to a collective ruling on constitutional questions would bias it towards state’s rights rather than biasing it towards the abolition of states which is what we have now.

    Great idea Tel. Having judges nominated and approved by each state legislature would be a good solution also. If they lost the confidence of a majority of states, they should be deemed to lose the confidence of all. Having the commonwealth in charge of appointing judges is like leaving the fox in charge of the hen house…

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