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The Council for the Australian Federation (CAF) is committed to new and innovative policy responses to support the national interest.
Since its inception, CAF has taken leadership in promoting the benefits and enhancing the operation of cooperative federalism in Australia.
In May 2009, CAF released the third in its Federalist Paper series.
Common Cause: Strengthening Australia's Cooperative Federalism was authored by Professor John Wanna (Australian and New Zealand School of Government), Professors John Phillimore and Alan Fenna, and Dr Jeffrey Harwood (John Curtin Institute of Public Policy). Building on Federalist Paper 1: Australia's Federal Future, this paper outlines principles to guide cooperative federalism, mechanisms to improve the architecture and governance arrangements of cooperative federalism, and proposals to improve cultural practices for best practice federalism.
The paper seeks to build on the opportunities for federalism reform presented by the Commonwealth Government's commitment to cooperative federalism and the reinvigorated COAG process.
The views expressed in this report do not represent the official views of the States and Territories or the Council for the Australian Federation.
As part of CAF's role in promoting and harnessing Australia's federal system of government, CAF commissioned an earlier report examining the future of federalism in Australia. The report, Australia's Federal Future by Glenn Withers and Anne Twomey, highlighted the opportunities for growth and prosperity within the federal framework and identified areas for reform in Commonwealth-State relations.
Some of the benefits of federalism highlighted in the report are:
- checks on power: greater scrutiny of government actions helps to reduce the incidence of corruption
- choice: people can vote for different parties at national and state levels, and if dissatisfied, seek redress from the other
- customisation of policies: federalism allows policies and services to be tailored to meet the needs of communities
- competition: competition between States and Territories provides incentives to improve performance
- creativity: States and Territories need to be innovative and to experiment in order to compete with other jurisdictions
- co-operation: the need to cooperate on reform gives greater legitimacy and support.
Download the Federalist papers:
CAF is committed to practical policy reforms to improve the quality of education across Australia. The importance of high quality schooling in delivering equality of opportunity and economic prosperity across Australia has been acknowledged in CAF's eight point action plan, which recommends:
- working towards national curricula
- testing to improve student achievement
- reporting on performance
- supporting workforce reform
- harmonising teacher registration
- reducing red tape
- convening a biennial national forum to share innovative educational reforms
- a Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA) process for agreeing a new declaration on the future of schooling in Australia.
CAF's policy recommendations on schooling reform are described in detail in the document The Future of Schooling in Australia (September 2007) PDF (891 KB).
The CAF action plan served to inform the implementation of the Council of Australian Governments' (COAG) educational reform agenda and the development of the 2008 Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians developed by MCEETYA.
Report on Intergovernmental Institutions
In November 2011, CAF released the fourth in its Federalist Paper series.
The paper, Report on intergovernmental institutions, builds on CAF’s Federalist Paper series and seeks to apply principles for working effectively within a federal system to the process for determining new intergovernmental structures.
To this end, the report:
- sets the context for the establishment of intergovernmental schemes;
- outlines the wide range of forms and functions for intergovernmental bodies;
- proposes a set of governance principles to guide their creation;
- provides detail on specific structures, including the advantages and disadvantages of each model and a case study of each model; and
- concludes with a discussion of good practice in the establishment of intergovernmental bodies.
Since its inception in 2006 CAF has continuously lead the development of a comprehensive framework for national action on climate change, including:
CAF Declaration on Climate Change
During 2006-07, CAF took leadership on the critical issue of climate change and at the February 2007 meeting its members issued the Council for the Australian Federation Declaration on Climate Change, which accepted the scientific evidence of the impact of human activity on the global climate.
Download the Council for the Australian Federation Declaration on Climate Change, PDF (27 KB) Word (48 KB).
National Emissions Trading Taskforce
Substantial work was undertaken by CAF through its National Emissions Trading Taskforce (NETT), including detailed economic modelling of potential designs for a greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme.
The NETT's work on designing an emissions trading scheme provides key input into further developing the emissions trading scheme currently being undertaken by the Federal Government.
Download the NETT Discussion Paper (2006) PDF (1.41 MB) and the Final Report (2007) PDF (1.29 MB).
The Garnaut Climate Change Review
In April 2007, CAF commissioned eminent academic and economist, Professor Ross Garnaut, to undertake a review of the impacts of climate change on the Australian economy and to make recommendations on medium to long-term policies to improve the prospects for sustainable prosperity.
The Australian Prime Minister, the Hon. Kevin Rudd MP, has since confirmed the Commonwealth Government's involvement in the Review. The Review's final report was released on 30 September 2008. For more details view the Garnaut Climate Change Review website at: http://www.garnautreview.org.au/.
Best Practice Climate Change Initiatives
CAF has compiled a stocktake of climate change initiatives across jurisdictions, which showcases current best practices policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change. It is designed to promote collaboration and information sharing across sub-national jurisdictions in Australia and internationally.
For examples of climate change policy innovation by individual States and Territories, view the document Climate Change: Best Practice by State and Territory Governments in Australia (October 2008) PDF (510 KB) Word (227 KB).
Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS)
In 2008, CAF commissioned Access Economics to investigate the potential impact on States and Territories of the Commonwealth Government's proposed introduction of a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS).
The views expressed in these reports do not represent the official views of the States and Territories or of CAF.
Download the Access Economics reports:
- Report 1: Impact of CPRS - Fiscal Report PDF (797 KB)
- Report 2: Impacts on Disadvantaged Regions PDF (2.16 MB)
- Report 3: State and Regional Economic Futures Report PDF (2 MB)
Download a zip file containing all reports.
Roundtable with Business and Industry on Climate Change
The 5 November 2009 CAF meeting in Adelaide had a special focus on climate change, building on CAF’s leadership role in this area. First Ministers focused on opportunities for partnering with business and the international community and on issues relating to adaptation, sea level rise, agriculture, economic adjustment and low carbon technologies.
- agreed to an International Partnerships Program to strengthen ties with other sub national governments
- agreed to table a Statement of Commitment at the Climate Leaders Summit in Copenhagen in December 2009
- committed to pursue a process for national climate change policy, including to agree a list of priority areas for reform
- agreed to establish a CAF Adaptation Working Group to identify priority national actions and develop a shared understanding of roles and responsibilities between the three tiers of government.
Prior to the CAF meeting, First Ministers collaborated with business leaders and The Climate Group for roundtable discussions on opportunities for partnership on smart, climate-resilient cities.
First Ministers met with Australian business leaders from Santos, Alstom Australia, ARUP, Better Place Australia, BP Australasia, Bunnings, CISCO Systems, GE Australia IBM, Lend Lease, Macquarie Bank, Origin Energy, and Swiss Reinsurance, to discuss climate change and how business and government can best work together.
First Ministers and business leaders examined a range of issues. These included:
- smart, climate resilient cities
- connected urban development and planning
- smart buildings and energy efficiency renewable energy
- support for electric vehicles
- removing barriers to transforming energy sector in a low carbon economy.
At its 29 May 2009 meeting, CAF agreed to make a joint submission to the Commonwealth's Henry Tax Review (Australia's Future Tax System). The CAF submission provides a positive reform agenda that will advance national economic reform and reorient federal finances to increase the fiscal autonomy and revenue capacity of States and Territories.
Download the CAF submission to the Henry Tax Review PDF (61 KB) Word (121 KB).