Federalism in Australia: A Concept in Search of Understanding

(2011) 17(2) Journal of Contemporary Issues in Business and Government 1-18

18 Pages Posted: 17 May 2013 Last revised: 25 Nov 2013

See all articles by Eric Windholz

Eric Windholz

Monash University - Faculty of Law

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

This article examines an issue of fundamental importance to both business and government: the nature of Australian federalism. Federalism in Australia is a concept under attack with pejorative labels such as 'dysfunctional', 'inefficient', 'coercive' and 'opportunistic' increasingly being used to describe its practical operation. Language games amidst political debates are part of a healthy democratic polity. However, such labels may also betray a deeper malaise – an inadequate understanding or appreciation of the concept of federalism. This article examines the nature and operation of Australian federalism and builds a useful framework through which the concept can be better understood and its practical operation analysed. This framework reinforces that one of Australian federalism’s key strengths is its flexibility – that there are a number of different modes of federalism from which governments can choose to address a particular policy issue – and that reform initiatives should be designed to leverage this strength, and not proceed on the assumption that there is one optimal or best approach.

Keywords: Federalism, Taxonomy, Theory, Practice, Modes

JEL Classification: K19

Suggested Citation

Windholz, Eric, Federalism in Australia: A Concept in Search of Understanding (2011). (2011) 17(2) Journal of Contemporary Issues in Business and Government 1-18, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2266198

Eric Windholz (Contact Author)

Monash University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3800
Australia

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