Campbell Newman Photo: Glenn HuntPremier Campbell Newman is picking up what Prime Minister Tony Abbott is putting down about reforming the federation.
Mr Abbott has issued a call to the premiers to have “a rational discussion about who does what” in a precursor to the federation white-paper process.
Mr Newman has long called for reform on how the Commonwealth funds the states, especially when it comes to education and health, which are run by the states but reliant on changing funding mechanisms from the federal government.
The latest budget, which announced an $80 billion cut in health and education funding in the forward estimates, has only inflamed the debate.
Giving the Sir Henry Parkes commemorative address on Saturday, Mr Abbott argued states that received a lower share of GST from the Commonwealth, which included New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia, deserved a “fair go”, but any changes should not leave smaller states worse off.
“It’s basically about giving everyone a fair go – but it has to be fair to the states making the financial contributions as well as to those receiving them, to those who give as well as those who receive,” he said in an advance copy of the speech obtained by Fairfax Media. “It should be possible to make these arrangements more equitable between the larger states with the smaller states no worse off.”
Mr Newman said to bring it on.
“I welcome Prime Minister Abbott’s commitment to working with state governments to review the federation,” he said.
“We need to clearly define which levels of government should deliver education in schools and universities and health services in hospitals, as well as who should provide the roads, rail, ports, electricity and water supplies that are essential to our future prosperity.
“There are far too many areas where federal and state responsibilities overlap and create waste, duplication and confusion.
“We’ve reached a situation where funding for vital services – like health, education and housing – is provided only if the services are delivered as the federal government sees fit and only if states agree to complex, onerous and expensive administrative requirements.
“States must have untied access to a sustainable revenue base that is sufficient to deliver on their responsibilities.
“All Australians are the losers in this because billions of dollars are wasted on unnecessary bureaucracy.
“I also believe that getting out of each other’s way will not only mean more efficient government, but more accountable government.
“Right now there’s a window of opportunity to make real and positive change.
“The Queensland government is keen to grasp this chance and will work constructively with Canberra and the other states to develop a new partnership and secure a brighter future for all Australians.”
The Prime Minister is expected to call all premiers together before the middle of next year to discuss federation reform, but not until the Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland elections have run.
– With James Massola
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.