The Reform of Australia's Federal System

35 Pages Posted: 28 Nov 2007

See all articles by Anne Twomey

Anne Twomey

The University of Sydney Law School


For both economic and social reasons, the reform of the Australian federal system is high on the political agenda. The States have called for a constitutional convention to obtain agreement on the necessary reforms. These are likely to include a reconsideration of the allocation of powers between the Commonwealth and the States, the reform of federal financial relations and the establishment and strengthening of mechanisms for intergovernmental cooperation. Drawing on experience from other federations, this article considers the types of reforms that might be discussed by a constitutional convention, including the restoration of the cross-vesting system and the ability of one government to confer or impose executive powers and functions on the officers of another level of government. It also considers broader federalism issues such as Senate reform and the composition and operation of the High Court of Australia.

Keywords: federalism, allocation of power, legislative power, executive power, intergovernmental agreements, federal financial relations, constitutional conventions, constitutional reform, constitutional amendment, mutual recognition of standards, framework laws, tied grants, cross-vesting of judicial power

JEL Classification: K10, K30

Suggested Citation

Twomey, Anne, The Reform of Australia's Federal System. Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 07/80, Available at SSRN:

Anne Twomey (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006

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