15 November 2006

Last rites for states' rights?

The High Court's decision in the Work Choices case
New South Wales v Commonwealth of Australia; Western Australia v Commonwealth of Australia has attracted much media comment.

The Australian includes comments from Brad Norington, Chris Merritt, Joseph Kerr, Mike Steketee , Matt Price and P P McGuinness.

The Age's coverage includes contributions from Kenneth Nguyen, George Williams , Michael Gordon and Meaghan Shaw and Michelle Grattan.

Blog postings include those by Tim Dunlop "The states are dead", Ken Parish at Club Troppo "Reports of the death of federalism are much exaggerated" and Andrew Norton"Is higher education next?"

I've not read the full judgment but after looking at extracts and some commentary I add my five cents' worth:

# The decision continues a trend towards centralisation which has been evident for some time, and which has been generally welcomed (or tacitly accepted) by both major parties.

# The Federal Government is unlikely to expand its authority in the short term, but will continue the current trend towards making the states more accountable for their spending.

# Major constitutional changes will be difficult to achieve given the referendum requirements (majority of votes in a majority of states) of the Constitution.

# Premiers Rann and Beattie are unlikely to achieve much from their call for a constitutional convention.

# If the worst case scenario eventuates Mr Rann will make a good Mayor of South Australia.

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