5 ideas in 5 minutes



The idea is Australia becoming a republic sometime before 2020. It emerged as a central issue in the recent 2020 Summit.

It’s interesting because since the Australia Act in 1986, Australia has had no practical judicial or legislative connection to the United Kingdom yet remains a member of the Commonwealth.

It is the symbolism of Australia remaining a constitutional monarchy or becoming a republic that can really be considered the primary issue. For those in favour of the preservation of the current system, the constitutional monarchy is an acknowledgement of Australia’s British history and inheritance, and also an affirmation of national values and traditions.

Similarly those who want Australia to be a republic argue that having an Australian as the head of state and removing the last vestiges of British colonial rule would symbolically mark Australia’s maturity and better reflect the practical reality of contemporary Australia.

Far from being a question of serious practical or legal concern, it is an issue essentially based around how one would like to think about Australia as a society and the image and values that it projects to the wider world.

They tried it in France followed by others.

Read more at Oz Politics.



Australian federalism

The idea is improving government efficiency and service delivery, another issue raised in the 2020 Summit. It denotes greater inter-governmental harmonisation and cooperation between federal and state governments in order to improve efficiency and service delivery.

It’s interesting because it implicitly acknowledges that the Australian federal system, with its three-tiers, often duplicates regulatory and legal regimes. It also recognises that harmonising policies among the states, for which there is ample scope (See the Model Criminal Code), will reduce costs – for business and government – and generally improve the efficiency and quality of public services.

Intertwined with the goal of improving government efficiency is the composition of the federal structure in Australia. Some have argued that the abolition of the states is needed to create parity between Australia’s low and very urbanised population, and the ‘quantity’ of regulation. Others say that removing the states in favour of regional governments would isolate those people not living in, or near, a major population centre.

Whether through increased cooperation or restructuring it seems clear that something needs to be done in improving efficiency and delivery across all levels of government.

They tried it in Canada, for example, with their Criminal Code that was adopted in 1892.

Read more here.



Indigenous representation in cultural institutions

The idea is having an Indigenous person on the board of major cultural institutions across Australia. The aim is to generate greater appreciation of Indigenous culture. The idea was raised at the recent 2020 Summit and reflects the strong emphasis placed on arts and creativity.

It’s interesting because by exposing non-Indigenous Australians to Indigenous cultural heritage it is hoped that they will take greater pride in diverse and ancient culture of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people. At the same time it gives Indigenous people representation in shaping cultural works that are so crucial in constructing our national identity.

While it is certainly not going to fix the significant social, health and economic problems that exist among Indigenous people, if the idea functions as intended it could help to draw Indigenous people into the mainstream cultural psyche from which they are now predominantly sidelined. This could become an immense source of pride and hopefully improve self-confidence.

They tried it – nowhere it seems.

Read more at smh.com.au


Collaborative governance

The idea is collaborative governance, a term used to describe the perceived need for governments to work with the private sector (both for-profit and not-for-profit) in achieving collective goals.

It’s interesting because it seeks to align the mutual interests of governments and private organisations for the benefit of society through solving collective problems using all the capacity available. The idea is to refrain from enacting legislative requirements or distributing artificial inducements to get the private sector involved. Rather, partnerships should be forged where they genuinely meet the interests of all stakeholders.

At what point do government, private sector and public interests intersect? And more importantly, how many collective problems lie at such crossroads?

The idea of drawing upon un-utilised capacity is certainly a worthwhile aim but promoting ‘collaborative governance’ should not come at the expense of the best possible decision – all too often these are unpopular and leave little room for the private sector to benefit.

They tried it in UN Global Compact.

Read more at Harvard Kennedy School of Government.



Indigenous governance

The idea is the Indigenous Governance Awards, an initiative of Reconciliation Australia (in partnership with BHP Billiton) that promotes and rewards effective governance in Indigenous organisations.

It’s interesting because it provides incentives to Indigenous organisations to assess, learn about and improve governance issues.

The fact that so many Indigenous policies consume disproportionate amounts of funding in comparison to their success leads to the conclusion leadership, strategy and implementation of policies are among the key factors in the failure of prior policies.

The Awards not only promote effective governance in Indigenous organisations but also foster Indigenous generally by equipping people with the skills to solve their own problems in a way best suited to them.

They tried it in Australia from 2005 with what appears to be growing success.

Read more at Reconciliation Australia. For more information on Indigenous governance generally see the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research at ANU.

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