Another nail in federalism’s coffin

Another cut in the death by a thousand cuts of Australian federalism is barely news these days, but it is still worth noting Friday’s agreement by all states except Victoria and Western Australia to refer powers to the Commonwealth for a national vocational education regulator.

The Ministerial Council for Tertiary Education and Employment also agreed to establish the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency announced in the May 2009 Budget. Its governance arrangements are to be discussed at a future MCTEE meeting, but expect another referral of powers.

In 2005 I published a CIS paper opposing further centralisation of education power in Canberra. My reasons related to Commonwealth incompetence, threats to academic freedom, and the usual federal arguments to do with spreading risk and learning from policy experiments. I’d use some different examples if I was writing that paper today, but the arguments still apply.

One thought on “Another nail in federalism’s coffin

  1. The PM may share your view about the Commonwealth’s competence. In his recent Sir Robert Garran Oration ( he stated that the Commonealth Public Service needed to be ‘more strategic and forward-looking, more outward-looking, and more citizen-centred’ and a it needed to improve in three key areas:
    •service delivery;
    •the development of excellent policy advice, and
    •planning to ensure it has the highest-quality workforce to meet the challenges ahead.


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