Australian federalism's chronic condition
Link to publisher version (URL)
Additional Publication Information
There can be no doubt that the Australian federal system has a number of severe problems and may even be considered dysfunctional. A federal system is meant to share power and divide the functions of government between the central government and the local states or provinces. Each of the two levels of government should control, and be responsible for, matters under its jurisdiction. They are sovereign in relation to the matters for which they have responsibility. In an ideal federal system matters of national concern should be with the national government; matters of local concern should be with the states. If one looks at the allocation of legislative powers in the Australian constitution this would appear to have been the intention of its authors. Unfortunately in the twenty-first century, nearly everything has been redefined as being of national concern, and the Commonwealth government wants to involve itself in things far beyond those envisaged by the authors of the Constitution. The Commonwealth does not want to share control with the states; it wants to be in control.