The Malaise of Federalism: comparative reflections on Commonwealth-State relations
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The High Court's decision in the ‘Work Choices’ case expanding further the scope of the Commonwealth's enumerated powers is the latest reminder of the highly centralised nature of Australian federalism. The division of powers traditionally forming the essence of a federal system has become increasingly difficult to discern and the roles and responsibilities of the two levels of government have become entangled. While for a good part of Australia's history divided jurisdiction was deplored as an obstacle to progress in government, today the decay of the system is most likely to be lamented. Discussion of options for reform presupposes an understanding of the forces that have led to the present condition. This article examines the Australian experience in a broader comparative and historical perspective and suggests that those forces are endemic and substantial.
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