Culprit of centralisation? (letter)by John R. BarichNews Weekly
, November 24, 2007
John C. Massam is concerned about the alleged centralising tendencies of John Howard ("Coalition embraces centralism", Letters, News Weekly
, September 29, 2007).
In doing so he exonerates the greatest failed centralist - Labor's Gough Whitlam - and turns for support to Menzies and Fadden.
Menzies gave us Canberra - the only part of Australia which voted Republican - and introduced state aid for non-government schools. True, this usurped state rights, but only because the states had failed to ensure financial justice for non-government schools.
When the states fail in education, health and Aboriginal welfare, the Commonwealth Government is duty-bound to intervene for the good of Australia's citizens.
In 1974 Gough Whitlam offered to buy the Westmead Hospital from the NSW Government. This hospital, together with the Commonwealth repatriation hospitals, were to be the beginning of a takeover of all hospitals. It was only stopped by the 1975 sacking of Whitlam by the Governor-General. Soon afterwards, the repatriation hospitals were privatised, putting a stop to any further encroachments.
The central problem within our federation is that we have allowed the taxing power to be separated from policy responsibility. The Commonwealth taxes us (a function given to it by the states during World War II but never returned to the states), while the states have the major expenditure responsibilities (except for social security benefits).
The Howard Government's giving of the whole of the GST revenue to the states has been an attempt to make the states less reliant on Commonwealth grants.
It is in this nexus of taxes and spending responsibility that we will find the solution to our Commonwealth/state difficulties, and not in misdirected attacks on the personal beliefs of a Prime Minister who is achievement-driven, not ideology-driven.
Please do not look to Labor's Kevin Rudd for our fiscal salvation as he has already announced over 70 bodies and inquiries which would, as the Whitlam Government attempted to do previously, push us towards a unitary system of government. He has already foreshadowed the eventual takeover of all hospitals.John R. Barich,