May 26th 2007

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: CANBERRA OBSERVED: Kevin Rudd still in front

EDITORIAL: East Timor: end of the Fretilin era?

HOUSING: Soaring house prices give illusion of wealth

LABOR PARTY: Sir Rod Eddington, Labor's business guru

PRIMARY INDUSTRY: Vital issues in wheat single-desk decision

OPINION: Family First takes on Howard's workplace laws

DRUGS CONFERENCE: Reality check needed on illicit drugs

SCHOOLS: Choice would be eroded by centralisation

INTELLIGENCE CORNER: Shssh - don't mention the war!

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: Politics could worsen global health pandemic

QUARANTINE: Drought used as excuse to relax quarantine standards

STRAWS IN THE WIND: No kangaroo meat - thank you very much / Tony Blair - a class act / Vladimir the Cruel / Turkey - between a rock and a hard place

UNITED STATES: US Supreme Court bans partial-birth abortion

WORLD AFFAIRS: Islam: the questions which must be answered

States more accountable than Canberra (letter)

Problems facing Brisbane-to-Melbourne rail-link (letter)

News Weekly informative, timely (letter)

The media and freedom of speech (letter)

CINEMA: A luminous film of great beauty

BOOKS: WHAT'S LEFT? How Liberals Lost Their Way, by Nick Cohen

Books promotion page

States more accountable than Canberra (letter)

by Doug Brown

News Weekly, May 26, 2007

Max Teichmann asserts: “Waste, and corruption, and log-rolling have become accepted modes of government in the States.” (“Pre-Budget ruminations”, Straws in the Wind, News Weekly, April 28, 2007).

In this context, Teichmann wants the GST.

The GST is, he says, something that the States “treat as a magic pudding”.

While not denying that State Governments do sometimes waste money on a grand scale, I reject the implication in Teichmann's comment that, in contrast, the Commonwealth Government is careful and restrained.

I am a NSW public servant. In the many meetings that I have attended with Commonwealth public servants, there are always more of them than there are of us, even though they may have travelled up from Canberra for the meeting.

Money never seems to be a problem for a Commonwealth agency, except when the agency may have to share it with the States.

Canberra loves to start programs and then, when the gloss and newness have worn off, push the programs onto the States.

I do not know the number of Commonwealth personnel in the areas of health, education and law and order - nor do I know the number of such personnel relative to the number of patients treated, students taught, and criminals brought to justice - but my strong suspicion is that the number of Commonwealth personnel in these three areas, relative to the number of people actually served in these three areas, would dwarf the corresponding number of State personnel.

Yet it is the States who provide most of these services.

Doug Brown,
Turramurra NSW

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