Reforming Australian Federalism: The White Paper Process in Comparative Perspective

Mark Bruerton, Robyn Hollander and Ron Levy (eds), A People’s Federation (Federation Press) Forthcoming

15 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2016

See all articles by Nicholas Aroney

Nicholas Aroney

University of Queensland - TC Beirne School of Law

Date Written: June 16, 2016

Abstract

The White Paper on the Reform of the Federation promised an inclusive and effective pathway to a strengthened federal system. It offered a path to increasing efficiency, reduction in cyclical policy fluctuations, better balancing of fiscal equalisation and fiscal responsibility, clarification and untangling of responsibilities, and simplification of the administration of federal grants. But after less than two years effort, the project was shelved.

When compared to federalism reform processes adopted in other countries, serious questions arise about the Australian White Paper process. These include whether the time horizon was adequate, whether the process was genuinely collaborative, whether Australian governments would be able to overcome barriers to reform caused by oppositional politics, and whether principle or pragmatic self-interest would, ultimately, determine the outcome. The failure of the White Paper process offers an opportunity to ask whether Australian federalism can ever be reformed, and what would need to happen for this to occur.

Keywords: executive federalism, constitutional reform, federalism reform, comparative federalism, deliberation

Suggested Citation

Aroney, Nicholas, Reforming Australian Federalism: The White Paper Process in Comparative Perspective (June 16, 2016). Mark Bruerton, Robyn Hollander and Ron Levy (eds), A People’s Federation (Federation Press) Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2797900 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2797900

Nicholas Aroney (Contact Author)

University of Queensland - TC Beirne School of Law ( email )

Brisbane 4072, Queensland
Australia
+61-(0)7-3365 3053 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.uq.edu.au/dr-nicholas-aroney

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