The chaotic response to the Chinese virus with all the attendant destruction of livelihoods and businesses shows some serious flaws with our federation and the continual arm wrestle between the sovereign states and the federal government.
It is clear to me that the vast bulk of the population are ignorant of the history behind the formation of the federation over 100 years ago because they have accepted becoming pawns in the continual political game.
Leaving out the NT, (Not Today, Not Tomorrow, Not Tever), and the ACT, (that artificial hot spot of lefties and public servants), the states of Australia are sovereign in their own right and always have been. Each has a constitution and a Governor who is the representative of the monarchy, just like the GG for the federation.
The original reason for federating was to provide services for the whole country that would be beyond the resources of each state or involved pointless duplication. The current situation sees us with 8 state/territory governments and 1 federal government for a population of 25 million people as well as the plethora of Local Governments, all supposedly “looking after us”.
Apart from the obvious drawback that this provides more opportunities for hopeless dopes to achieve positions of power it also means that we have lots of duplication of “authorities”. Each state/territory has education departments, health departments and many others that all require public servants to run them and “Ministers of state” to oversee them.
We have just over 800 politicians in 15 “houses of parliament”. Every one of them has their noses firmly in the taxpayer funded trough and most of them are a waste of space. Putting aside the fervent wish of some to become a republic, (not possible when the federation consists of a collection of sovereign states), it might be time for some radical surgery.
The “virus” has shown the shambolic nature of our governments. When it seemed that the end of the world was nigh the federal government, who has responsibility for quarantine (see section 51(ix) of the constitution), pushed the panic button via the biosecurity act, (which allows the minister for health to do whatever he likes), and hundreds of thousands were put out of work and thousands of businesses were destroyed. In an act of “compassion” the feds decided to mortgage the younger generations future and implement schemes to “compensate” those affected. Now they are sweating on how to back out of the dead end they have driven us into.
When it became clear that the virus was not such a big deal and there might have been an over-reaction the feds backed off but the state premiers, those folk who were “all in this together” in the farcical “national cabinet” decided that they would make hay while pandemic shone and locked borders, (see section 92), quarantined people, (even though this is a federal prerogative), stopped the footy and in the DPRV they are locking down suburbs as I write. During the fiasco cruise ships discharged people infected with “the virus” while state health authorities were trying to work out what day it was, rabid left wing protesters were allowed to gather and shout at the rest of us but law abiding citizens were monstered by police for going to the beach. Note the lack of noise from the federal government.
The point I am labouring to make is that we are overgoverned and those who over govern us are in the main fools who lack any common sense.
Changing things will be fraught with challenges as those politicians who warm the benches in the 15 “houses” will not go quietly, however I think it is time to start agitating for change. We do not need 6 Premiers, 2 Territory Chief Ministers, one Prime Minister and seven Governors with all the attendant ministers, their staff and hangers on and their bloated public services that consume our tax dollars.
At one stage I thought the solution was the abolition of the states but I am not so sure it would be beneficial to have a greater distance between the voters and their representatives, so reckon some form like the Swiss federation where they have 26 Cantons and one federal government for their 8 or so million people. The Cantons are a bit like our local government but with extended powers and responsibilities. They range in size from 16,000 to 1.5 million people and have their own autonomy in certain matters. Perhaps an adaptation could work here where the federal government has charge of things like education, health and police for the whole country and the Canton “government” is like our local government augmented.
I recognise that Australia’s population base is mainly in the large cities so there would be a need to allow smaller groups to have a say with equal authority.
The objective is to reduce the number of parliaments we have and to get some uniformity across the nation.
At present we have about 1 politician for every 30,000 people. If that was changed to say 2 per 150,000 and one of those was in the “local” Canton government and one in the federal parliament we would reduce the pollie population to around 350, removing 459 pollies from the various troughs that they slurp from.
The country managed to cooperate in forming the Commonwealth over 100 years ago so it’s possible that it could happen again, provided enough people want to get out of the trap we are in now. The federal government has expanded its reach well beyond the provisions of the constitution and it would be a good thing to get back to the basics.
I look forward to the usual constructive comments.