Federation reform: strong support for keeping shared roles


New survey data shows public servants in all three tiers of government generally support sharing responsibilities in health, education and the environment. So do citizens, despite strong arguments in favour of devolution.

With a rare pause in electioneering across all jurisdictions and Malcolm Turnbull taking over the prime ministership, the time is ripe for Australian governments to get stuck into federation reform, according to public policy professor AJ Brown.

“I think the process wasn’t going where it needed to go … before the change of prime ministership,” Brown told the Institute for Public Administration Australia national conference today. He also believes there is now the “right balance of Labor and Liberal” governments across the nation to achieve lasting reform through bipartisan agreement, but little impetus from political leaders.

AJ Brown

AJ Brown

Brown said state and territory leaders appeared uninterested in making any commitments through the Council of Australian Governments that would “make the reforms stick” and argued that a clear theory or principle to guide the process still had to be found. Citizens are being left out of the process, he warned.

FREE membership to The Mandarin

Receive unlimited access, get all the latest public sector news and features, plus The Juice, our daily news update sent direct to your inbox.

The Mandarin is where Australia's public sector leaders discuss their work and the issues faced within modern bureaucracy. Join today to discover the latest in public administration thinking and news from our dedicated reporters, current and former agency heads and senior executives.