Council for the Australian Federation

The Council for the Australian Federation (CAF) was formed to support and enhance our federal system by providing a forum for state and territory leaders in Australia to discuss and resolve important issues independently of the Commonwealth.

Role of the Council for the Australian Federation

The Council for the Australian Federation (CAF) was formed to support and enhance the Australian federal system by providing an intergovernmental forum for state and territory leaders in Australia. The objectives of CAF are to work towards a common understanding of the states’ and territories’ positions in relation to policy issues involving the Commonwealth Government; and to take a leadership role on key national policy issues, including the Federation, that are not addressed by the Commonwealth Government.

Each state and territory Premier or Chief Minister is a member of CAF. Victoria was instrumental in establishing CAF in 2006 and former South Australian Premier Mike Rann was the inaugural Chair.

In 2023 CAF reviewed its operations and reaffirmed its objectives. View the Final signed CAF Agreement


Federalism is a system of government that shares political power between a central national government and local regional governments. By dividing power, federalism makes democracy stronger, helps to protect people's freedom, and allows for local decision making on issues of local importance.

In Australia, we have three levels of government, Federal, state/territory and local. This includes:

  • one 'Federal' or 'Commonwealth' Government
  • 6 state and 2 mainland territory governments
  • more than 500 local regional/district councils.

Each level of government has both its own and shared responsibilities.

The benefits of a federal system of government include:

  • 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
  • customised 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.

Reviews of Australia's federal system

The Federalist Papers are academic reviews of Australia's federal system, commissioned by the CAF.