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May 26, 2005

John Quiggin has an op. ed. in the Australian Financial Review on water and federalism. He argues for a more co-operative federalism. He says:

...when we combine the confrontational centralism that has characterised the Howard Government lately---particularly as its dominance of the Senate approaches--- with specific instances in which the water initiative has been used as a political football, it seems unlikely that much will be left of the spirit of co-operative federalism before long.

That is pretty true. Last years National Water Initiative appears to be increasingly to a different time. Before the states needed to be pressured by the Commonwealth for their slowness in water reform to return over-allocated water systems to sustainable levels. Now pressure has given way to confrontation and takover.

Today the Commonwealth is engaged in a sustained attack on the states that goes beyond the conflict of the federal politics of ALP states v a Coalition commonwealth. What we have is a power grab the commonwealth.

Quiggin acknowledges the inevitablity of conflict in the current politically divided federalism, then he adds that:

"....water is too important to be held hostage to conflicts over industrial relations or intergovernmental financial relations. A renewed outbreak of co-operation is required."

So true. And we can always hope for better days ahead in our federal polity.

Me thinks the whole environmental reform process around water and biodiversity will be slowly closed down, whilst some of the older reforms will rolled back. After all most of what we think as the environment has been reclassified as natural resources and this has been given to the Nationals to administer. That darkens the skies somewhat doesn't it.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 2:10 PM | | Comments (0)