Federalism’s flickering fortunes

australiaA revival of Australia’s system of federalism through stronger co-operation between States and Commonwealth was another casualty of the latter phase of Kevin Rudd’s prime ministership, according to a Flinders University political analyst.

A senior lecturer in Politics and Public Policy, Mr Geoff Anderson will address the recent fate of federalism as part of Federalism: Trends in Australia and Abroad, a symposium to be held at Flinders University Victoria Square.

Mr Anderson said that prior to the 2007 election, Prime Minister John Howard had been talking tough with reference to State’s rights over the issue of water allocation along the River Murray, while Rudd’s position seemed more conciliatory and consultative.

Mr Anderson said Rudd’s intention to reduce the bickering and the “blame game” that often typify State-Commonwealth relations had faltered after two years.

An initial collaboration between the two top tiers of government at Council of Australian Government (COAG) meetings saw a relaxation of control over revenue provided to the States which, Mr Anderson argues, represented a significant move towards decentralisation. But with Labor’s proposed national health and hospital reforms and mining super tax, more hostile attitudes were quickly reasserted.

Other speakers at the symposium are University of Adelaide law academic Cornelia Koch and Tommasso Consiglio, the Italian Consul for South Australia, who will examine the operation of federalism in European Union and Italy respectively.

The symposium is presented by the Association for Research between Italy and Australia (SA Branch) and hosted by the Flinders University Law School.

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