With all eyes on the Senate after 1 July, let’s keep thinking about what it might also mean for relations between the Commonwealth and the states – and politically assertive behaviour.

The checks and balances argument for federalism is surely the strongest case in favour of the system. Most people who proposed the abolition of the states regard them as historical accidents, but believe they should be replaced by strong, larger regional governments that would operate as separate sources of powers and check central authority.

So let’s kick around a few ideas about federalism. The smaller, subtler differences within Australian cities are probably far greater than those between the states. Look at the problems of the wealthiest and poorest local government areas in your state. Perhaps more social policy – and infrastructure decisions – should become a local responsibility. Canberra is on a different planet, after all.

No-one is ever going to abolish the states – but state politicians defending their turf show no less self-interest than the feds when they push a centralist line.

So why not finally sit down and start negotiating some sort of new federal-state pact, something that could be tweaked every decade or so? Let’s start the process with a far reaching examination of what policy areas fall into whose bailiwick, which taxes work, what matters that were deemed state issues in the 1890s should remain state. Do you feel yet another Crikey list coming on?