Article Categories: Portfolio Media Releases, Health, Infrastructure, Law and Order, Education and Training
Despite years of promises by Mr Rudd to “re-engineer federalism”, to create a new era in housing, education, infrastructure, health, business regulation and much more, today’s COAG was very much “business - as – usual”.
Yesterday’s COAG confirms the growing impression of this Rudd Government, as a government of all talk and little or no action. The expectations created around COAG are a triumph of spin over substance.
The five year health funding agreement, welcome as it is, has all the hallmarks of a host of such agreements, across many policy areas, over the last decade. Furthermore, despite a GST windfall of $3.2 billion to the states and territories in the last year alone, the various state hospital systems have gone backwards, none more so than in NSW.
After twelve months, the only innovation in Mr Rudd’s “co-operative federalism” appears to be the introduction of an impenetrable COAG mechanism, with layers of new bureaucracy, far removed from the usual checks and balances, and consultative imperatives, behind which the nine heads of government can hide. A bureaucratic structure is in the making which removes governments from individual accountability in a political sense.
It smacks of Mr Rudd’s reported dream in July 2005 of turning COAG into “the senior bureaucratic clearing house for the nation”.
It smacks of a lack of leadership, a lack of robust ideas, a lack of any articulated critical path, a lack of accountability.
Mr Rudd’s reform program, including COAG, is being exposed for what it is - just a spending program. Now that the inherited surpluses have been spent, Mr Rudd’s reform cupboard is looking decidedly bare.
Media Contact: Stuart Eaton, 0433 298 620
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