COAG too slow in delivering reforms – national OHS system long overdue

It’s a pity we have to wait for politicians to become disgruntled before they tell us what they really think, but nonetheless it’s great to see former Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon speaking out about our dysfunctional federation, as reported by ABC News (Fitzgibbon renews call to abolish states):

Federal Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon has renewed his calls for the abolition of state governments.

His comments come after the Prime Minister hailed this week’s Canberra negotiations with state and territory leaders a success…

…He has told Radio National he maintains his view that the blame game between different levels of government is damaging.

“We don’t need three tiers of government, I mean what is unique about our country is we have something like 15 chambers of legislature and God knows how many politicians to run a country with 22 million people in it,” he said.

“It’s just crazy and it’s inefficient.”

I couldn’t agree more. COAG is no substitute for a national Government that has responsibility and authority on all national policy issues.

A telling example of the glacial pace at which COAG works is national occupational health and safety (OHS) reform. It’s been obvious for over a decade that we’ve needed national consistency in OHS regulations and it’s one of the main demands of business lobby groups. The Productivity Commission undertook a major study of National Workers’ Compensation and OHS Frameworks in 2004 but we’re still waiting for full national consistency, because Victoria and WA have major concerns about the proposed framework – even though Governments have had around eight years since the time of the Productivity Commission’s report to get it right. The report card to COAG glosses over the major concerns Victoria and WA have – they view the proposed national regime as a lowest common denominator approach – and instead notes in typical bureaucratic language that the two States have “sought to extend the implementation milestone for this reform by 12 months”.

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