ABOLISH THE STATES!
(Data as at October 2002 with some updates in footnotes)
"Those things that unite us as Australians are much greater
and more enduring than those that divide us"
(John Howard, conceding defeat in the July 1987 Federal election)
|(Source and cartoonist unknown)|
The case seems beyond dispute. State Governments are typical Australian administrative overkill, a complete waste of taxpayers' money.
The wastage is due not only to the oversize government as such (Australia probably has more politicians per capita than any other country), but to the multiplication of laws and taxes, the continual buck-passing between Federal and State governments and the impossibility of making sensible funding decisions in important areas such as health.
The resultant chaos that has developed across the country ranges from industrial relations turmoil and disparate education standards to a needless proliferation of time zones. We do not even have a national crime database!
Furthermore State Governments tend to be composed of second-class politicians. The present Beatty-led government in Queensland, for example, cannot provide basic components of infrastructure such as adequate water supply, health care and transport systems.
We could save around $20-40 billion annually* (as indicated in this analysis) by getting rid of State Governments and handing over their responsibilities to the Commonwealth Government and Councils - after an amalgamation and thinning process that will ensure all those harebrained, neo-socialist, grossly over-paid councillors are eliminated. (Alternatively, what amounts to much the same, we could abolish the present Councils and turn the States into Super-Councils.) Well, we've only got a population of 21 million, for goodness sake!
The argument that federalism provides an essential safeguard against central authoritarianism doesn't impress me, considering we also have in place the Westminster bicameral system (and anyway there are surely other, more economical safeguards that could be installed). OK, some of our States are huge in area, but don't you ever wonder why you and your little patch of dirt need a Mayor, a State MP, a Federal MP and, in theory if not in practice, a Federal senator and a State senator (except in Queensland which has no Upper House)? All being paid about three times what they're worth.
This is a much more important issue than the Republic question that occupied so much of the politicians' time a little while ago (not to mention the ridiculous move to change the Australian flag). But will we ever consider it? Not a chance, because our decisions are made for us by the very people we ought to dismiss. And Australians don't change easily, the chaos is part of their heritage and they're proud of it. Or perhaps they're just too blasé to be bothered about the system, and too unimaginative to think outside the square.
Just imagine what the Government could do (or undo!) with $20 billion+ a year. It would go a long way towards wiping out our debt, for one thing.
Actually, "Australia" should have two States - Australia and New Zealand!* Needless to say, I also support the ideal of world government (because the most important problems facing us demand a concerted global approach) and believe there may be ways of working towards it, but that individual governments and politicians lack the strength and willpower to progress in this direction. On the contrary, the political differences between nations have barely diminished, so the defence of our country against possible invasion remains one of the topmost responsibilies of the Federal Government. A major problem is that conflicting ideologies have escaped from their original geo-political boundaries, making defence more challenging and peaceful co-existence less attainable. Since negotiation alone is most unlikely to unite the world, some short-term humanitarian damage would inevitably be necessary to achieve a long-term humanitarian gain. This could be perceived as unethical. Furthermore, political globalisation carries an appreciable risk that Australian standards will be reduced to the lowest common denominator - a risk we already take to some extent with our free trade agreements, and to a lesser degree with our immigration policy.
*2006: A proposal to unite Australia and New Zealand was in fact discussed in Parliament but was subsequently abandoned.
According to this website among the politicians who have suggested that State governments should be abolished, or that the States should not exist, are Ben Chifley, Bob Hawke, John Howard, Jeff Kennett, Richard Murray, Tony Windsor, Barnaby Joyce, Joel Fitzgibbon, Paul Everingham and Lindsay Tanner.
10 February 2009: Our new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, carries a massive burden and will soon have to make some radical decisions. The economy is sliding into a deep recession, bush fires in Victoria have destroyed lives and whole townships, floods in Northern Queensland are among the worst on record... What next? The bill will be enormous. So far, the States have cooperated with his rescue efforts quite well, but where will he eventually find the money and resoluteness to alleviate the country's problems? Abolish the State governments, Mr Rudd!
2010: Alas, Mr Rudd has come undone, brought down by a woman whose name I can never remember, until the media are ungracious enough to bring it to my attention. Not to worry, she surely wonít last too much longer (Jan 2012 - Rudd tried unsuccessfully to oust her). At least Kevin Rudd behaves and talks like a human being. The trouble is, politicians arenít supposed to do that.
June 2013: Well, this is turning into a blog. Incredibly Rudd's back again! This time he's taken steps to ensure he's here to stay - assuming his government somehow scrapes home in the forthcoming election (Sep 2013: in fact he suffered a crushing defeat). It's quite beyond me how one man can influence potential voters so massively. Do they think Labour's policies have all suddenly changed? I have as little confidence in voters as I do in politicians. I see Rudd's globular mask now, imploring Egyptians to honour their democratically elected government, even though that government is anything but democratic. That's one country that needs State governments - no, it needs to be partitioned, like India and Pakistan. Name the slices Airstrip One and Jurassic Park.
*2017: Add about 50% to the quoted monetary figures. Also, the population of Australia is now around 24,600,000.
........Dabs of Grue...............10/12/2002