Beyond the Blame Game: Political Strategies for State Funding Reform



There is growing concern that intergovernmental financial relations in the Australian federation are becoming increasingly acrimonious and dysfunctional. This paper argues that it is necessary to analyse State funding as a whole, including the critical relationship between State-level taxation and its reform and the broader Commonwealth Grants Commission regime, if we are to establish a system of State funding which is financially sustainable, promotes economic efficiency and is broadly congruent with established norms of Australian federalism. Above all, based on international experience, we argue Commonwealth leadership is required to achieve this goal. We conclude with a case study concerning resource taxation which demonstrates how the Commonwealth could provide leadership using a ‘bundled’ approach to policy reform. It is argued that such an approach has the potential to alleviate wider intergovernmental conflicts which currently afflict Australian federalism.