Guest post from St. Ives

Recasting Australian Federalism and Government Department Structures

I propose a major streamlining of the way Australia is governed. I do not see any prospect of this actually being implemented as it would involve politicians a) giving up some power b) admitting that they have not been effective in the past c) cooperating.

Firstly I would eliminate a layer of government; an often proposed idea, butI would leave state government and abolish the local councils, leaving their powers in the hands of the state government and administered by bureaucrats administering the planning powers under the strict policies set by the state government in relation of residential dwellings and commercial decisions being made centrally by the planning department. However I will elaborate on the state structure later.

Importantly, duplication would be scrapped. Each level of government will have clear lines of authority enshrined in the constitution. State responsibilities will be enumerated and the federal government will have the power to make laws on all other matters so long as they do not impinge on states rights. This will prevent the federal government from de-facto state policy making by way of grants and financial arrangements that are currently being abused to push federal initiatives onto the states.

The federal department structure will need reshaping to reflect the new arrangements. To simplify matters I will outline how I would structure the federal ministry under the new power structure with cabinet ministers in bold and junior ministers in italics. Each cabinet minister with an * will have a parliamentary secretary who will have a roving brief within the department to fill the needs of the senior minister at a given time rather than a specific policy area.

Federal Ministry in a semi order of department seniority

  • Prime Minister
  • Deputy Prime Minister * (A stand alone office to allow the holder to focus on policy development across the government) – Minister for Infrastructure, Air Transport & Interstate Transport Projects (all other transport & infrastructure is the responsibility of the states).
  • Treasurer * –  Assistant Treasurer/Minister for Revenue, Minister for Financial Services and Regulation
  • Cabinet Secretary/Special Minister of State  – Minister for Administrative Affairs, Minister for Tourism, The Arts & Sport
  • Minister for Foreign Affairs * – Minister for Foreign Aide
  • Minister for Defence – Minister for Defence Science and Procurement, Minister for Defence Personel, Minister for Veterans Affairs
  • Minister for Regional Affairs & The Environment –  Minister for Food Security, Minister for Water and the Environment, Minster for Agriculture, Minister for Regional Services
  • Minister for Immigration *
  • Minister for Refugee Processing and Settlement – Minister for New Arrival Services
  • Minister for Trade *
  • Minister for Health –  Minister for Medical Research, Minister for Hospital Services (All other community health services become the domain of the states in return for giving up hospital administration. The states focus on mental health, aging etc)
  • Attorney General
  • Minister for Homeland Security
  • Minister for Universities, Tertiary Education, Training and Science (Note the lack of mention of schools here. The feds lose this due to their terrible meddling and education becomes a state responsibility on terms of policy and curriculum).
  • Minister for Communications, Technology and Innovation
  • Minister for Indigenous Affairs & Central Australia *
  • Minister for Employment & Workplace Relations – Minister for Social Security and Employment Services

State Ministry in a semi order of department seniority

  • Premier (Deputy Premier to be linked to a senior ministry) – Minister for Energy & Ports
  • Treasurer*
  • Minister for Transport –  Minister for Transport Services, Minister for Transport Infrastructure & Roads
  • Minister for Planning & Civic Services (ie rubbish collection, and old local gvt responsibilities) – Minister for Planning Approvals, Minister for Civic Services
  • Minister for Schools & Childcare*
  • Minister for Police, Corrective & Emergency Services*
  • Minister for Health Services (Community Health Programs, Mental Health and Aging) –  Minister Assisting the Minister for Health Services
  • Minister for Community Services** (Two Parliamentary Secretaries to help with DOCS)
  • Attorney General – Minister for Fair Trading, Minister for Gaming & Liquor
  • Minister for Regional Centres, Tourism, Sport & The Arts*
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