Saturday, November 21, 2009

It is time to get rid of state governments in Australia

State governments are no longer required. They are artifacts of a time when administration was restricted by the distance you could travel with a horse and cart. This time has obviously passed, especially with the advent of the Internet and modern communications.

Here are some reasons why they should go:
  • They are too parochial and cannot take action in the best interests of bio-regions or Australia. Just look at the death of the Murray Darling basin to inappropriate water management and climate change and the denial of environmental flows to the Snow River.
  • They are now middle-men, soaking up money allocated by the federal government (derived from Income tax, GST and other taxes) in their vast bureaucracies, and delivering precious little to the things that matter such as public transport infrastructure. Even traditional state management resources like hospitals and health services are struggling for money
  • They do not focus on regional and bio-regional services and projects. Public transport infrastructure and services in Melbourne are sorely neglected. There are no signficant major projects or initiatives to boost regional areas so that they will complement and provide alternatives for the over sized city of Melbourne.
  • They seem more interested in looking after the interests of big business such as car manufacturers, coal miners and energy companies rather than supporting real clean energy projects which offer fantastic opportunities for employment across the country - and even for exports.
  • Currently, the federal government is offering up to $40 million to States for bicycle-related infrastructure spending and none are asking for it or have projects to use it, even though cycling infrastructure is very poor across Australia (with the possible exception of Perth).
However, the challenges in getting rid of States include:
  • The Australian constitutions states that they must all agree to their demise - which is very unlikely
  • The federal government is currently not capable of providing services and local focus where it is needed
  • Strong bio-regional entities - with good grass roots democracy - are needed to take over the administration and service provision

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