This is a thought-provoking article, in The Advertiser, written by South Australian Political Commentator Dean Jaensch.
LAST week New Zealand Prime Minister John Keys visited Australia, and presumably held long conversations with Malcolm Turnbull. He may have had some suggestions to make to our Prime Minister. The New Zealand economy is doing extremely well; ours is in a mess.
In a press conference, Mr Keys boasted about how well New Zealand is going and, when asked to explain why, he put the fact that Australia is a federation near the top of the list. Comparing the two political systems suggests he is spot on.
New Zealand has one parliament, one house of parliament, and one government. Australia has nine parliaments, 15 houses of parliament, and nine governments. New Zealand has 121 elected members of parliament; Australia has 842. Do we need all of them?
Formulating a policy and legislating it is a simple and straightforward process in New Zealand. Decide on the policy, have it debated in the singe house of parliament, and it becomes law. An Australian Prime Minister has to pass a Bill through the House of Representatives, and then face a hung upper house in the Senate, where a disparate collection of Greens, independents and micro parties will decide its fate. New Zealand does not have an upper house.
The NZ Prime Minister can formulate and legislate national policies. The Australian Prime Minister has to take into account the existence and authority of the states. Under the Constitution, which was drawn up in 1897, the Commonwealth government has restricted authority, and cannot legislate outside the list of topics in Section 51. If it attempts to do so, the High Court has the authority to veto the legislation.
Currently in Australia, four of the eight states and territories have Liberal or Coalition government, and four have Labor governments. Trying to find a national consensus out of this is all but impossible.