If I had a dollar for every demand to abolish state governments I’ve heard, I wouldn’t need to make the big bucks blogging.
It seems whenever there is a half-baked thought about government, up pops abolishing the States.
Set aside the fact the Constitution is based on residual powers for the States; that the Senate is a State representative house; that it would require not an amendment, but a completely new Constitution.
What seems behind the intuition among the thoughtful to abolish the States is the eternal Smart Class drive to rationalise and make uniform. Anyone familiar with Michael Oakeshott’s work would recognise this.
There are very real concerns about rationalising and making uniform though. One person’s rational is another’s ideological. Rational often involves higher levels of control to make up for all those “irrational” cases. Rational generally means bureaucratic. Centralising reduces government responsiveness and eliminates variation, which eliminates competition. And when we make uniform there is no guarantee we won’t institute the worst of all cases rather than the best.
Would we like to see the NSW Planning and Workers Comp systems and Victoria’s Human Rights nonsense implemented nationally?
The benefits of jurisdictional competition have recently become very, very clear.
On the East coast we have three Centre-Right state governments of very different composition and circumstance. Massive majority and no upper house in Queensland; massive majority and hung upper house in NSW; teetering majority in Victoria.
Queensland already has superior planning, Workers Comp and local government systems. Now in Campbell Newman it has a Premier going hard and fast because of a majority and absence of upper house.
Compare with Tentative Ted Baillieu in Victoria, and upper-house-slowed NSW, and you begin to see the benefits of competition across the States. They hold each other accountable. They provide a level of meaningful comparison. And, for someone like me, focused on effectiveness and efficiency, much closer-to-consumer service delivery than a single Leviathan based in Canberra.
By all means amalgamate and increase the size of local governments. By all means tidy up some regulatory silliness. But enough with the no-States posing, please.