Federation talk: premiers soothed, white papers to progress

Tony Abbott has soothed bristling state premiers, angered by $80 billion in broken agreements, and set the federalism and tax reform white papers back on track.

Amid tension and blowback against the Commonwealth over abandoned Gonski and health partnership agreements, the federalism and tax reform white papers are back on track.

State premiers bristled over the broken agreements — costing the states upwards of $80 billion — but agreed to focus on the white paper process during an all-smiles media event following the Council of Australian Governments meeting on Friday.

The federal budget, released days after COAG agreed to the white paper path, was seen as a betrayal to state premiers who had faith that partnership agreements, tying up significant state resources and planning, would continue under the Abbott government. They had, after all, just agreed to a white paper process that was supposed to allow time for consultation on the future of those agreements.

Over a breakfast with Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Friday, the states agreed to give him another chance. At the media conference Abbott reassured the premiers that consultation would improve as the white paper progresses:

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