Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Constitutional health

It was interesting today to hear Bob Carr propose to refer the power to run hospitals to the Federal government. Following on from my last post, it seems that Mr. Carr is willing to forgo his fairly definite responsibility to stop the 'buck-passing'. Everyone else I saw interviewed (Thwaites, Beattie, some NSW Labor MP) disagreed, saying the Commonwealth could not run hospitals properly.

Frankly, I don't think the States can talk. Although I think Mr. Carr himself is passing the buck, such a proposal would indeed pass the buck to the Federal government. Nobody is running hospitals well, so in the end all that seems to be happening is Mr. Carr is trying to get rid of not only an obvious political hot potato, but what is surely a massive management headache for his administators.

I think the most interesting point this proposal brings up is the undesirability of State government in itself.

We are over-goverened and whilst there were strong arguments for protecting State legislative power at Federation, due to the uncertain application of the federal structure immediately after Federation, those concerns should largely have been resolved. In my opinion, Mr. Carr should be handing his whole in-tray over to the federal government, although he could hold off on proposals like this one until we have some real accountability in the federal Parliament. Imagine what hospital legislation might get past a compliant Senate!

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