Socratic forum wrapup

I was going to write a post about the Socratic forum, but Sam Clifford has done it. Here’s his summary of my piece.

John Quiggin illustrated the States-Canberra issue with the analogy of a dysfunctional household in which dad earns the money and mum spends it (this is the GST). Dad is in charge of things like keeping the house safe whereas mum is responsible for raising the kids and cooking the food that dad provides. While I don’t agree with this traditionalist view of the home (c. 1950s) it’s plain to see that it’s an adequate representation of the situation. Dad gets in mum’s way from time to time, telling the kids that they can have ice-cream (or an amalgamation plebiscite) after mum’s said no. What is needed, Quiggin argues, is a clearer division of tasks and the allocation of funding based on who needs to do what. If mum needs some money to buy new shoes for the kids, dad shouldn’t be whining about the fact that his tie’s not ironed.

That was a bit lighthearted, but Charles Sampford gave a more serious presentation of the underlying viewpoint. It’s based on the principle of subsidiarity, that is that responsibility for government functions should be at a level as close as possible to the people it serves, consistent with effective provision of the service concerned. See also Mark at LP, who takes a similar view.

5 thoughts on “Socratic forum wrapup

  1. “What is needed, Quiggin argues, is a clearer division of tasks and the allocation of funding based on who needs to do what”.

    The rules seemed clear before the High Court’s crazy decision based on the corporations power that the Commonwealth could control intra-State industrial relations. Now, there are no rules. The culprit is the High Court, and the remedy is to overturn that very bad decision.

  2. Federalism – what would Socrates think?…

    Who knows? But there was a “Socratic Forum” held on the topic “That Canberra is taking too much power from the States” at the Legislative Council Chamber in the Queensland Parliament House on Wednesday night. Speakers included b…

  3. This was a very interesting forum, and I also think it’s great that these events take place in Brisbane and seem to have some following.

    I did a wrap up on my website: (you may need to scroll below some of the satirical stories!)

    A very good question toward the end of the forum was raised. It was along the lines that no Senator should be allowed to be a Cabinet Minister.

    A very worthy idea.

    Senator Brandis vaguely agreed, but then added that he thought any such move should be accompanied by more “US” powers to the Senate.

    To me this is nonsensical, but the original suggestion has enormous merit.

    Shouldn’t all Senators be answerable to all their constituents on all proposed legislation without the obvious conflict of being the Minister for same?

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