Abbott, Pragmatic Nationalist, Proposes Modest Reform Of Federation

Describing himself as a “pragmatic nationalist”, Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he believes it is worth another try to “harmonise” the revenue and spending responsibilities of the States and the Commonwealth.

ParkesAbbott spoke at the Sir Henry Parkes Commemorative Dinner in Tenterfield, NSW. On October 24 1889, Parkes, a five-time premier of NSW, delivered his famous Tenterfield Oration, a call for the colonies to federate.

Abbott said: “Now I remain a pragmatic nationalist – but the states exist, they have wide powers under the constitution and they can’t be abolished; so – rather than pursue giving the Commonwealth more authority over the states, as I proposed in my 2009 book, Battlelines – better harmonising revenue and spending responsibilities is well worth another try.”

Abbott said he used to think that “the states should become subordinate legislatures to the Commonwealth”, but he now doubted that “any such constitutional change could succeed”. He said: “…in any event, it’s a good principle to propose the smallest change that will actually tackle the problem – that’s why resolving the mismatch between what the states are supposed to deliver and what they can actually afford to pay for is worth another go.” [Read more…]


COAG Discussions Focus On Terrorism, Federation And Taxation

The Council of Australian Governments met in Canberra and discussed a range of issues, including terrorism, reform of the Federation and the taxation system.

COAG

The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, held a joint press conference following the meeting. He was accompanied by Premiers Baird, Napthine, Newman, Barnett, Weatherill and Hodgman, as well as the Territory Chief Ministers Gallagher and Giles. Felicity-Ann Lewis represented Local Government.

The State have agreed to introduce legislation to support federal laws covering the arrest, monitoring, investigation and prosecution of domestic extremists and returning foreign fighters.

COAG also agreed that the Federation and Tax Reform White Papers need to progress together. [Read more…]


Premiers Rebel Over Federal Budget Cuts; Demand COAG Meeting Before July 1

The States have rebelled over Federal Government Budget cuts, claiming that the impact will be felt on July 1, and demanding Prime Minister Tony Abbott convene a COAG meeting before then.

Newman

The State Premiers and Territory Chief Ministers met in Sydney today at a meeting called by the Queensland LNP Premier, Campbell Newman. The Western Australian Premier, Colin Barnett, was the only leader not to attend.

Newman said the meeting “firmly and unequivocally rejected” the Budget cuts. The political leaders demanded an urgent meeting of the Council of Australia Governments before July 1. Newman said: “Contrary to what the PM said today, there are immediate impacts to frontline services.”

He said the $180 million cut to hospitals would be felt immediately with about 1200 sub-acute beds being cut in hospitals. “There was a national partnership on preventative health – we all received letters saying that is terminated.” [Read more…]


COAG Agreement On Indigenous Truancy And One-Stop Shops For Projects

The first meeting of the Council of Australian Governments since the election of the Abbott government has taken place in Canberra today.

COAG agreed to tackled indigenous truancy and to cut “green tape” by implementing “one stop shops”.

COAG

State Premiers and Territory Chief Ministers also agreed to sign on to the government’s paid parental scheme.

The meeting also agreed to examine ways to fast-track infrastructure projects.

Speaking at a joint press conference, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said COAG had felt like a “meeting of equals”. He described himself as a “pragmatic federalist” who wanted the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments to get on with dealing with issues in their own jurisdictions. [Read more…]


Education Ministers Speak Out On Pyne’s School Funding Announcement

Education Minister Christopher Pyne’s state counterparts have criticised Pyne’s decision to pull out of the Gillard government’s Gonski school funding agreements.

The ministers spoke to the media after meeting with Pyne today. They included NSW minister Adrian Piccoli who has led the criticism of Pyne. The Australian Education Union’s Angelos Gavrielatos and parents’ organisations also weighed in on the announcement.

Ministers

  • Listen to the Education Ministers (32m)

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.