Costello has bravely put the question of the inefficiencies of our federal
system on the table. The general response is a series of boos from the states,
whose leaders naturally prefer hanging on to their power to handing it
It is worth pondering the way in which organisations have (or have
not) centralised decision making. Do you remember the drama when the Reserve
Bank closed its Launceston office? Or when BHP took over Western Mining? Or
when New Zealand failed to join the Australian federation in 1901?
The current Australian federal structure is geared to achieve the coming
together of six or seven incipient East Timors over a century ago. The
Treasurer wants to re-examine all this, and good on him says Henry. I’d settle
for health, education and law’n’order being state responsibilities – with
nationally agreed standards – and the rest being in the Federal domain.
But for goodness sake let’s have a rational debate, not knee-jerk
This debate is inevitably being seen through the leadership prism, and it is
quite delicious to see the state leaders saying they want to keep that nice
Mr Howard in the top job.