September 13

New South Wales: sack the government, abolish the states?


With the New South Wales state government in disarray, there are calls for its dismissal.  The former Treasurer, Michael Costa, even says the States should be abolished, according to  Simon Benson  in the Daily Telegraph on 12 September, 2008.

Dismissal is unlikely and, absent an unusual set of circumstances which are certainly not there, would not be constitutionally possible.

What this does demonstrate is the falseness of the proposition promoted by the politicians and the commentariat that four year terms would improve the quality of government.

That was  untrue when it was propounded. Most of them probably realised this when they solemnly intoned this advice to the electors.

It has since been proven to be untrue .

But this does not mean that the States should  be abolished.

And they won’t be, no matter what Mr. Costa wants.  Those  living outside the Canberra –Sydney – Melbourne triangle will ensure that.

It is true that a succession of centralist politicians and judges, together with some delinquent state politicians, have too often made State governments dysfunctional.

And the so called “ republicans” actually want to increase the power of this political class. These are the same people who have got us into this mess.

In campaigning mainly at the taxpayers’ expense  to remove  the Crown from our crowned republic, they  have been successful in creating a diversion from the real constitutional issue.

The real issue is ventilated regularly in the proceedings of the one federalist think tank in this nation, The Samuel Griffith Society.


The real constitutional issue in Australia is the emasculation of the States.

…power to dismiss….

Incidentally, I see that the splendid Dr Anne Twomey, who is one  of the nation’s leading authority on state constitutions, and I are in agreement as to the limited powers of the Governor to dismiss the New South Wales government.

Her piece in The Sydney Morning Herald , 12 September , 2008 is on all fours with mine  ( “What reform?” 8 September 2008)

Dr Twomey agrees that the Governor could, under the reserve powers, dismiss the Premiere for “persistent and proved illegality “

The Governor ”would then appoint a new premier, who would advise the Governor to dissolve the Legislative Assembly and issue the writs for an election,” she observes.


“This happened in 1932, when the Governor, Sir Philip Game, sacked the Premier, Jack Lang. He appointed Bertram Stevens as Premier, who advised him to dissolve the House and hold an election. The same was true when the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, sacked the Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, in 1975, and appointed Malcolm Fraser, on the condition he advise him to dissolve both houses and hold an election.”

 In the meantime, Mr Costa says in the Daily Telegraph 12 September, 2008 "At the heart of modern politics, is a fundamental dishonesty that politicians and government can solve problems that are inherently unsolveable (health, happiness, wealth)," Mr Costa wrote.

"And politicians that promise solutions to these types of problems are dishonest and worse still they corrupt the political system by undermining what the system is good at providing – imperfect, transitory compromises that keep the place ticking over." 

Just what makes Mr. Costa think federal politicians are immune to this malaise?



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