Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Radical Federalism in a world that stays the same

Coalition’s radical new federalism

Today a ramble on things that have attracted my attention.

According to Laura Tingle in the Australian Financial review, the Coalition has unveiled a radical new approach to Australian Federalism.

Don't hold your breath. It appears to be a shift in administrative functions back to the states with the Feds continuing to hold the purse strings, with Commonwealth dictates on policy enforced by flying squads of Commonwealth officials. It may improve administration, but it's hardly radical.There is also an apparent cost cutting element since it is expected to reduce service delivery costs. You can expect that to be mandated leading to state reluctance to participate.

I thought of kvd with the announcement that BHP had deferred the Olympic Dam and Port Headland harbour expansion proposals. It's just another sign of the end of the present Australian mining investment boom. The mining boom itself ended a little while ago.

In the meantime, Federal Treasurer Swan has warned the states not to gouge mining royalties. You see, the Feds need the money to fund the expenditure associated with the mining tax. In the meantime, Opposition Leader Abbott was on TV explaining why the sky was falling. 

In all, another of those days in Australian politics and public policy where nothing changes! 


As you might expect, the deferral by BHP of $50 billion in new investment dominates Australian front pages this morning. Here are examples - one, two.   


Anonymous said...

Yes Jim, I did note the Olympic story, but thought you might think me either boring or fixated on the fortunes of Mr Klop if I made a comment.

From 'go' to 'no' in about twelve months sort of destroys any claim our glorious managerial class might make of possessing 'the vision thing' - don't you think?


Anonymous said...

And another subject about which I can be considerably boring if you wish:

I envy people who get paid large amounts to state the obvious.


Michael O'Rourke said...

With federalism, the standard mantra is "abolish the states". But people do not reflect that the Cwealth/Fed Govt wd then create 10 or 20 super-regional authorities that wd recreate the mess.
I lean towards abolishing the Cwealth in the sense of the Feds vacating as many fields as possible, eg 100% health and edcuation to be given to the states.
I will confess that in the early 2000s I worked for a year or two at the Fed Dept Health (DOHA as it then was) and cd never understand why it existed at all. Duplication that was/is totally unnecessary. Like Topsy, it 'just growed'.
Andrew Robb's thinking is highly commendable in principle (as you say, it depends how it is done).
BTW the anti-robot identification characters are just about impossible for this human to manage ...

Jim Belshaw said...

kvd and Michael, I am sorry for my slow response to your comments.

kvd, do we actually have a managerial class any more? In a world of "leadership", of "transparency", of "kpis", of corporate games, of "governance", where is management? Here I am talking just about the conceptually simple but actually complex task of managing, of using resources in the best way to do a job. Consider Mr Joyce.

Jim Belshaw said...

Michael, I agree with you on the anti-robot system. My problem with Mr Robb is that the Commonwealth is actually not withdrawing, just outsourcing!