15 October, 2021

Federation has failed

I AM a very proud and passionate Queenslander. Nothing fills me more with pride than dishing up a series defeat to the cockroaches in State of Origin, or seeing my beloved Broncos crush any team south of the border.

By Peter McCullagh

Federation has failed - feature photo

When travelling and socializing, if asked where I’m from, like most, I usually answer “Queensland!” Not Cairns, or Brisbane, but Queensland. It’s that territorial sense of belonging that drives us all, Queenslanders first, Australian second.

At the risk of offending, and for the purpose of challenging the debate, it could be argued that Federation has failed us as a nation. We need to seriously discuss an alternate constitution and, whether or not six separate states and two territories is the best model for our nation going forward.

It’s time to be bold and face the reality. We do not need 8 governments pulling against each other. We need one overall government heading up a system and Regional Local Governments administering the implementation of the policy and spending directives of the central government.

We have a total of 754 politicians in Australia, at state and federal level, for a population of 25 million.

We need a two-tier governance system here in Australia. Central direction of policy, centralised education, health, judiciary and law enforcement. We duplicate and never get it right. This cumbersome process set in place after federation leads to finger pointing and wasted opportunity.

Federation could be perceived as the preservation of self-interest whilst maintaining the guise of creating a national good.

Our national response to COVID is proof that self-interest and political point scoring seem to be the offspring of federation. It could be argued that federation is a failure, and it is time now to rethink the social and political landscape of Australia.

No clear single pathway. Each separate state and territory doing their own thing and some refusing to sign-up to, or backing away from a national consensus.

Borders open, restrictions easing, 80 per cent, or is it 90 per cent, who knows, because we have too many people, all with a current valid role, but with personal and political agendas at play.

Health care funding must increase, or borders will not reopen is the latest threat.

The nation’s question should be, “if states rely upon the federal government for health funding, why do we need a state health department?’ This is the legacy of the failed federation process. Individual colonies maintained much of their social, political and judicial infrastructure.

Police, education, health, roads, railways, and so on. Colonies were not prepared to handover control. The end result, 120 years later is that we do not have adequate measures in place to easily govern this nation, and some pundits wish to create yet another impost of self-interest and establish a new Far North Queensland state.

No central plan, no combined efforts, in New South Wales if a resident requires an ambulance or medivac, they are charged $407 call out fee plus $3.67 per kilometre. In Queensland the Ambulance Levy is automatically covered for residents in the state as well as interstate.

Thankfully, we do not live in South Australia where you pay over $1000 for a call out and $6 per kilometre.

Education is another confusing issue. In Queensland a parent can delay their child’s commencement at school until the official compulsory schooling age of six years and six months, after which then, the child must commence. Elsewhere in Australia the compulsory schooling age is five years.

Victoria is the only state in Australia with a legal driving age at 18. You cannot get your P’s or Probationary Driver’s License until you turn 18. Yet residents of the Northern Territory can be 16 years of age and drive at 130 kilometres an hour on some of the major highways in the territory.

We won’t consider the rail gauge issue where we have three different widths of rail gauges, effectively rendering a national rail transport system impossible.

Self-interest and political empire building appear to be the feature of the current landscape.

We need a simpler more efficient way to run the country.

We do not need another state in the nation, sorry Bob Katter.

We need less government and greater efficiencies. Time to scrap the Queensland government along with the other 5 states and 2 territories and set up a new leaner, more efficient model, and start to move this country forward.

Let the discussion begin.

Peter McCullagh



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