Whenever a problem is identified in some part of Australia, one of the suggested solutions seems to involve a national response. This assumes that the as yet unknown national response will always be the best response.
This goes against the fundamental nature of Australia, which was established – after very careful and well informed debate – as an indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown and under the Constitution.
And if you doubt the quality of the nineteenth century federation debates, just compare them with the transcript of the 1998 Constitutional Convention. Those who were in Old Parliament House in 1998 will recall the ennui of the almost endless succession of speeches by various republicans, often self celebrated, telling of their personal conversion to republicanism.
In comparison, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s questionable claim to being a “life-long republican” becomes almost attractive. But as Malcolm Turnbull avers, he was curiously absent from the barricades in 1999.
..essence of federalism…
The American Founding Fathers, who first developed the modern concept of federalism, realized that a vast country could not be well governed by just one central government.
And one of the singular advantages of a federation is competition between governments. This can be seen for all to see.
Experience rather than academic theory and political rhetoric is better at showing us what policy works best. This is so even when the political rhetoric is supported by the ubiquitous and tedious taxpayer funded computer modeling, focus groups and opinion polling.
The abolition of death duties by the Bjelke-Petersen Queensland government was the clearest example of this. The elderly moved to Queensland, preferring to leave their hard earned assets to their heirs, friends and charities rather than to bloated wasteful grasping government.
The deluge was such that in a surprisingly short period of time, the scourge of death and estate duties was wiped from the face of Australia. Had we been a unitary state we would still have this toll imposed when people are least prepared for it.
…the original intention…
Our Founding Fathers had the good sense to know that many questions were best determined locally by essentially self funded governments. The sad thing is that the politicians and the High Court have worked to undermine the compact our forefathers made – without reference to the people.One of those matters which the Founding Fathers believed would be best determined locally was education.
Once again they have been shown to be right. It is facile to say the nation would be better off with a national curriculum. The evidence is to the contrary.
But before we go into that, note from the following video clip how the Americans respect their British heritage. ( The clip is promoting a video and book on this.)
Then contrast that with our national history curriculum described below.
..our federal record ….
Federal Governments of both parties have a poor record in education. Take civics education where incidentally the committee appointed to develop civics contained not one constitutional monarchist.
In 2007, after millions were poured into civic education, Year 10 students were asked "what is the Australian Constitution?" and given four possible answers: the rules about how the major Australian political parties are run; the policies of the Australian federal government; the framework for the ways Australia is governed; all the laws that Australian citizens must obey. (“Civics education fails to deliver,” 18 February, 2009)
Only 34 per cent identified the correct answer, the framework for the way Australia is governed – one in three. Despite this failure, both parties have decided that this justifies the federal authorities going into other areas.
(In the meantime, and without one tax dollar, ACM has launched a new version of its education project )
…national history curriculum disaster…
A glance at one of the results of this federal incursion, the national history curriculum, once again demonstrates the inability of the federal authorities to produce something really worthwhile. The noted authority Dr Kevin Donnelly says the next generation are to be taught history through ‘the politically correct prism of Aboriginal, Asian and environmental perspectives’. ( See the Australian Conservative 1 June 2010 and "The Rudd-Gillard Education Revolution, An Evaluation", Australian Conservative 28 December, 2010)
“Forget,” he says “the importance of Australia’s Western heritage or the impact of science, technology and industry in overcoming poverty and eradicating disease.”
There is no mention of the blindingly obvious fact that our political institutions go back through the Glorious Revolution to the Magna Carta, and overall, little reference to the British contribution to Australia.
The curriculum he says, is politically correct and even demonstrates political bias. Both he and Dr. David Daintree president of Campion College lament the slight reference to Christianity, given that our Judeo Christian values are one of the pillars of our nation: “Christianity has role in learning,” The Australian, 29 December, 2010.
Now the new Baillieu Victorian government has indicated it will delay applying the national curriculum in core subjects. The New South Wales Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Barry O’Farrell, has indicated a similar reserve.
If young Australians are to be taught nothing or almost nothing about their heritage, how will they be able to appreciate it? Education is far too important to be left in the hands of politically correct elites.
In the meantime, federal governments have not shown themselvesf adept in fulfilling their core federal functions.
Why are they so determined to move into matters reserved to the States?