2.29 The committee recommends that the tendency towards greater
centralisation within the Australian federation resulting from High Court
decisions be among the matters referred for inquiry to the Joint Standing
Committee proposed in Recommendation 17 of this report. In the event that the
proposed committee is not established, it encourages more extensive academic
research to be undertaken on the subject with a view to formulating policy
proposals that might be referred to a constitutional convention for possible
2.55 The committee recommends that proposed intergovernmental agreements
between the Commonwealth and state and territory governments be referred for
consideration and review to the Joint Standing Committee proposed in
Recommendation 17 of this report.
2.56 The committee recommends that exposure drafts of legislation intended
as the foundation for a referral of power to the Commonwealth be made available
for examination by parliamentary committees, including, as appropriate, the
Joint Standing Committee proposed in Recommendation 17 of this report and the
Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills, prior to their adoption.
2.57 The committee recommends that the
Joint Standing Committee proposed in Recommendation 17 of this report, inquire into the consequences and uncertainties
created as a result of the decisions in Re Wakim and R v Hughes.
3.53 The committee recommends that COAG be strengthened through
institutionalisation to ensure the Council's effective continuing operation and
ability to promote improved mechanisms for managing federal state relations.
The principles of transparency and joint ownership should be central to this
3.54 The committee recommends that agendas for COAG meetings be developed
jointly by Commonwealth and State and Territory governments, that they be made
publicly available before meetings, and that the timing, chairing and hosting
of COAG meetings similarly be shared.
3.55 The committee recommends that outcomes of COAG meetings be published in
a more transparent manner than is currently the case with the communiqués.
3.56 The committee recommends that the states and territories establish a
stronger foundation for the Council for Australia’s Federation by providing
additional funding, formalising Council processes and ensuring that it meets
more regularly than is currently the case.
4.47 The committee recommends that the Joint Standing Committee proposed in
Recommendation 17 of this report inquire into the need for adjustments to the
IGA on Federal Financial Relations and to the level and structure of taxation
in Australia to provide the states certainty regarding revenue raising and
their capacity to meet their responsibilities. In considering this issue, the
committee should inquire into any related matters that the committee determines
are appropriate, including the roles of the state and federal governments, and
seek advice from the Productivity Commission, the COAG Reform Council and the
Commonwealth Grants Commission as required.
5.26 The committee recommends that the recently announced review into the
distribution of revenue from the Goods and Services Tax give particular
attention to the issue of incentives and disincentives to states and
territories to maximise their revenue.
5.34 The Committee recommends that the Joint Standing Committee proposed in
Recommendation 17 of this report be asked to inquire into the extent of and
need for reform of the arrangements for horizontal equalisation that currently
exists between local government shires and municipalities across Australia.
6.67 The committee recommends that the issues of funding and constitutional
recognition of local government be among the matters proposed for inquiry by
the Joint Standing Committee proposed in Recommendation 17 of this report.
6.68 Pending the outcome of this inquiry, the committee recommends that
mechanisms other than constitutional amendment, perhaps by way of agreement
through COAG, be explored to place Commonwealth funding of local government on
a more reliable long term foundation.
7.44 The committee recommends that the each state give consideration to
strengthening existing regional governance frameworks to improve the delivery
of essential services and take into account the needs of local government. In
particular, it encourages state governments to review the boundaries of regions
created for the administration and delivery of state services such as health
and education to ensure their closer alignment with each other.
7.45 The committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government review the
Regional Development Australia program after three years operation, to ensure
the program effectively contributes to the long-term sustainability of
8.31 The committee recommends that propositions for change to the
Constitution be referred for consideration to a constitutional convention and
that responsibility for the agenda and organisation of the convention be the
responsibility of a newly institutionalised COAG.
8.41 The committee recommends the establishment of a Joint Standing
Committee of the federal parliament to be administered by the senate and with a
senator as its chair. The committee should have a mandate to conduct its own
inquiries and be assigned a range of oversight responsibilities that would
enable it to assume a significant and integral role in helping to manage
Australia’s modern federation. This should include the responsibility to
provide regular oversight of COAG.
8.42 The committee recommends that the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and
Trade References Committee undertake an inquiry into the merits of Professor
Uhr’s proposal that Australia sponsors an ongoing regional dialogue among
elected representatives and parliamentary bodies in the Asia Pacific on the
political management of decentralised and devolved national governance.
8.54 The committee recommends that funding be made available by the federal,
state and territory governments for the establishment within an Australian
university of a centre for the study and dissemination of ideas relating to
federalism and Australia’s federal system of government.
8.55 While the committee acknowledges the important work done by
organisations such as the Museum of Australian Democracy and the Parliamentary
Education Office in improving Australians' knowledge and understanding of
Australian federalism, the committee nevertheless considers there is a need to
promote a deeper understanding of federalism in the wider post-school
community. The committee recommends that enhanced funding be made available by
the federal, state and territory governments to appropriate institutions to
promote this deeper understanding.
8.56 The committee recommends that the Australian Research Council identify
Australian federalism as a priority area for research funding.
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