THERE ARE THOSE who argue that the only way to improve the performance of government in Australia is the abolition of the states and the establishment of stronger regional councils. The reality is that no referendum to abolish the states will succeed within the next fifty years: the residents of Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania will not vote to abolish their states because of a concern for a Sydney-Melbourne domination of the resultant national government. (There is only an outside chance that this attitude may slowly change when Queensland is more populous than Victoria in the next twenty years.) A majority of people in a majority of states are required for constitutional change; faced with this reality, it is time to make the federation work more effectively.
If the current status quo of the federation is going to be in place for a majority of this century, then it is time for a National Constitutional Convention to realign the federation to clearly define the roles of both the Commonwealth and the states. This is how Australia can improve the operation of government.
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