AUSTRALIA’S SYSTEM OF government has passed its use-by date in too many respects. The federal arrangements are dysfunctional, ministerial responsibility has broken down and the system fails to adequately protect fundamental rights and freedoms. Too many of the processes that made sense when Australia became a nation are now antiquated and ineffective, and as a consequence many of the rules of our democracy are second rate.
Australia was regarded as a leading innovator and moderniser in 1901, but the tag has long since slipped. We lag behind many other countries and are now seen as having one of the most static systems of government in the world. The progression to this point has been gradual. The cause of our predicament is not a series of false steps, but inaction. We have failed to sufficiently update and improve the good system of government we gained more than a century ago. It is as if, having built Australia on the foundation of a new constitution in 1901, the task finished and there was no need for renovation. Without coups, revolutions or other social and political upheaval, we have been happy to leave things be and focus on other priorities.
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