John Howard is a well-known admirer of Gough Whitlam,so it’s not surprising to see him returning to one of Gough’s favourite centralist themes
Mr Howard said this week that the federal system was being undermined by bickering between the states and Canberra.
He was angered by repeated claims by the states that they were being underfunded when they were receiving more money courtesy of the goods and services tax.
“I don’t think our present system, federal system, is working all that well,” he said.
“I think if we were starting a country all over again we’d have a national government and a whole series of regional governments – we wouldn’t have states if we were starting all over again; but we’re not, so that’s quite academic.”
Unfortunately, Gough and John are both wrong on this one. If we started completely from scratch, we might have some different state boundaries, or perhaps an extra state in North Queensland, but with these modest qualifications, the Australian states are natural political units. I’ll try and do a longer post on this.
That said, I’m glad to see that the government is once again floating the idea that the Commonwealth should take over the entire health system. If, in return, the Feds got out of the school sector, we’d have a much more manageable division of responsibilities. buy zyvox