Ideas and Change in the Australian Federal System

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The Australian federal system is currently subject to influences that have increased the political salience of federalism and are working to push the federation in the direction of non-centralising change. Some of this pressure for change springs from a new sense of state assertiveness driven by state financial stringency, increasing resentment of Commonwealth interference in state concerns, and Commonwealth political vulnerability. But there has also been a significant shift in the climate of ideas about federalism. The hostility to federalism driven by the dominance of postwar majoritarian views of government has been moderated by rival views of government which stress the virtues of checks on the executive and the dispersal of political power. In the field of public finance, in particular, federalism is seen as a desirable form of governmental organisation. This change in ideas about the desirability of federalism is not as dramatic as the clashes between the various spheres of government but it provides both intellectual underpinning for the claims of the states for changes in the federal system, and heralds a major shift in the evolution of our system of government.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-18
JournalAustralian Journal of Political Science
Issue numberSpecial Issue
Publication statusPublished - 1992


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