Ten Advantages of a Federal Constitution: And How to Make the Most of Them

Australia’s federal system is being attacked and undermined with debate focussing solely on its disadvantages. Ten Advantages of a Federal Constitution: And How to Make the Most of Them sheds new light on the current constitutional debate by outlining why a federal system of government excels.

Report author Geoffrey de Q. Walker questions the alternatives, such as unitary government, and suggests some ways to enhance the federal political structure.  ‘Many are now questioning the usefulness of state and local governments,’ says Professor Walker.  ‘This is the result of the expansion of Commonwealth power at the expense of the states, which has made it harder for them to function properly.’

In its favour, he argues that federalism:

  • Strengthens national unity as it accommodates economic and cultural differences,
  • Encourages experimentation as different policy approaches can be compared easily,
  • Results in better decisionmaking because governments are easier to supervise, and
  • Produces more stable governments than unitary systems

‘Many of the world’s other federations tap the benefits of federalism better than Australia does,’ says Professor Walker. ‘As the world globalises, a decentralised federal structure that works properly is more flexible and adaptable in the face of change.’