Sovereignty, Blame Games and Tony Abbott’s New Federalism

In July 2014, the Centre for Independent Studies (CIS) held a public forum on reform of the Australian federation, which continued the CIS’s involvement in issues related to Australian federalism over many years. It was held at this time in response to Prime Minister Abbott’s announcement of a review leading to a White Paper on Reform of the Federation to be released in 2015. The review process will generate renewed public interest and discussion of federalism, to which this publication aims to contribute. The forum brought together an audience of interested members of the CIS and the general public to hear the views of four prominent practitioners and scholars in the field of federalism: former NSW Premier Nick Greiner; constitutional lawyer and expert on federalism Professor Anne Twomey; CIS Senior Fellow and former Commonwealth and state Treasury official Robert Carling; and CIS Research Fellow and health system expert Jeremy Sammut. Their presentations, which form the four chapters of this volume, comment on issues such as the benefits of federalism; the need for clearer lines of responsibility between the Commonwealth and the states; how fiscal federalism should be reformed to strengthen accountability of each level of government in the federation; and the centrality of public hospital funding to the strains on federalism.