Bracks’ federalism agenda: start with health, education

Institutionalise COAG, revive the Reform Council and cut ministers’ gabfests, Steve Bracks says. The former Victorian premier offers his thoughts on reforming the federation to The Mandarin.

Eight years out of the job, Steve Bracks says he doesn’t miss being Victorian premier. “No, I don’t, because I chose to leave. I was there for eight years and had three election wins,” he said.

“I think if I was forced out I might miss it. Of course there are parts you miss — being in cabinet on Mondays, making decisions and implementing policies. But no, I enjoy in equal measure what I’m doing now post-politics.”

The 60-year-old is currently chair of Cbus Super, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union’s industry fund, as well as playing special adviser on governance issues to Timor-Leste Prime Minister Xanana Gusm­ão and chair of the Deakin Foundation. But it’s his views on government — amid a debate on recasting the federation — The Mandarin wanted to hear.

As a former state leader who had his fair share of battles with Canberra, and a champion of the 2006 National Reform Agenda, Bracks is well placed to comment. He welcomes the Prime Minister’s federalism white paper process, provided it is more than a vehicle for validating pre-determined policy positions.

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  • Andrea Grosvenor

    The Commonwealth/state argy-bargy is a definite handicap to sensible policy and program development and implementation in many areas. As a former Cwlth bureaucrat I found it easiest to achieve progress in areas such as telecommunications and aviation where the states and territories had no Constitutional role!