ANZSOG/PSC Western Australia series - Ken Smith

On Wednesday 26 July 2017 Professor Ken Smith the new CEO and Dean of the Australia New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) delivered a presentation titled: Federation? Better together in collaboration or happier apart in competition - Reflections on more than 3 decades of engagement  in Commonwealth/State relations.


From the Hawke-era Special Premiers Conference, through the massive growth in tied grants, the COAG reforms of the 1990s, the ongoing struggle over GST relativities and most recently the cessation of Abbott’s Reform of the Federation white paper, the distribution of functions, powers and resources in the Australian federation seems permanently in flux. 

Notwithstanding some research arguing that federalism, with its capacity for diversity and policy competition between jurisdictions, is economically advantageous for the nation, many argue for the abolition of states and the associated strengthening of regional government. 

Although there remains a powerful argument for bringing together revenue raising and service delivery responsibilities at the same level of government, the fiscal reality and the political challenge of achieving this are immense. So is our greater problem Horizontal Fiscal Equalization (HFE) or Vertical Fiscal Imbalance (VFI)?

The presentation and links to material referenced during Professor Smith’s presentation are below.

  • Presentation - Federation? Better together in collaboration or happier apart in competition (see below)
  • Federalist Paper 1  Australia’s Federal Future prepared by Anne Twomey and Glenn Withers, April 2007
  • Reform of the Federation Discussion paper prepared by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (Australia), 2015


Page last updated 4 December 2017