The CIS examines the roles and responsibilities of commonwealth, state and local governments, the fiscal aspects of federalism and the benefits a federal structure brings to Australia.


The Case for a New Australian Settlement: Ruminations of an Inveterate Economist
Wolfgang Kasper
26 June 2015 | OP141

Australia needs a cultural counter-revolution that appeals to the traditional Australian spirit of self-reliance and can-do optimism – a new ‘Australian settlement’ which goes beyond mere economic policy. It should be underpinned by agreed basic understandings across political and social divides: (i) ours is a…

Public Money: Federal-State Financial Relations and the Constitutional Limits on Spending Public Money
Anne Twomey, Robert Carling
29 October 2014 | OP138

It is uncontroversial that federal-state financial relations need reform, but it is necessary to understand how we got to the current position and what constitutional constraints and principles are relevant to future reforms. Those who wrote the Commonwealth Constitution understood that they were handing over…

Sovereignty, Blame Games and Tony Abbott’s New Federalism
Anne Twomey, Jeremy Sammut, Nick Greiner, Robert Carling
28 August 2014 | PF27

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…

Submission to the National Commission of Audit
Alexander Philipatos, Jennifer Buckingham, Jeremy Sammut, Robert Carling, Simon Cowan, Stephen Kirchner, Trisha Jha
01 April 2014 | T30.08

The federal government’s Commission of Audit (CoA) was established in 2013 to review the performance and role of government. This publication is an edited version of the CIS submission to the CoA listing practical solutions aimed at cutting government expenditure. The government should adopt a…

TARGET30: Towards smaller government and future prosperity
Peter Saunders, Robert Carling, Simon Cowan
06 March 2013 | T30.01

The size of government in Australia (federal, state and local) has been steadily expanding over the last 40 years, reaching into areas far beyond the core government responsibilities. Spending in the general government sector (across all levels of government) has been growing at an average…

Media & Commentary

Federal-state reform should not mean more tax
Robert Carling
20 January 2015 | Australian Financial Review

When Tony Abbott said recently that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) should be “looked at”, the public response was to focus on that remark at the expense of everything…

Blame game risks missing a chance to change
Greg Lindsay
26 November 2014 | Australian Financial Review

When I’m asked about what’s wrong with government, people are expressing their frustrations through the question, and usually complaining that Australians are over-governed.   ‘Too many layers’, ‘get rid of the…

MEDIA RELEASE: Public money for public benefit, not political purposes
Anne Twomey
30 October 2014

The economic imbalance in Commonwealth-State financial relations highlighted in recent reports from the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) and the National Commission of Audit was not an accident,…

Comment: Education does not need Commonwealth in schools
Jennifer Buckingham
03 October 2014 | Canberra Times, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age

Ahead of the federal government’s ‘white paper’ on reform of the federation, an issues paper will canvas the specific aspects of federalism that pertain to education. In a federation where…

The bright side of non-competitive IR federalism
Alexander Philipatos
24 April 2014

Classical liberals favour competitive federalism over national laws because competition between jurisdictions makes it harder for government to grow. If the tax or regulatory arrangements are more favourable in one…