Labors plan to reform relations between the Federal, State and Territory Governments is an historic breakthrough that could end the political buck-passing that is undermining Medicare, our schools system and the economy as a whole.
Commenting on Labors announcement today ACTU President Sharan Burrow said:
Australians are sick and tired of politicians who try to shift the blame and pass the buck for the crisis in our health and education systems and the lack of government coordination.
Waste and duplication abounds, jobs and economic development are suffering because Federal, State and Territory governments are failing to work together effectively.
The short-sightedness of the current Federal Government is particularly a problem.
The Prime Minister has refused to seriously discuss reforms to fix Medicare at recent Council of Australian Government (COAG) meetings.
Hundreds of millions of dollars, and possibly billions of taxpayer money could be saved or better spent if the different parts of our health care system were better integrated.
For example, a drive by the Federal Government to lift bulk-billing rates and implement public health campaigns to prevent illnesses such as diabetes could lead to enormous savings in the State Government-run hospital system.
Under current health funding arrangements there is little incentive in the system to drive such initiatives and the Howard Government is stalling on the necessary reforms.
The Howard Government has also not allowed discussion of the schools funding issue at recent COAG meetings.
Parents are rightly worried about the lack of resources for State schools and less well-off independent schools but the Federal Governments funding formula means some of Australias richest private schools are getting huge increases in support.
Labors plan to set a national standard of school resources and allocate funding to public or independent schools on the basis of need is a much fairer approach.
Everyone knows that the Federal, State and Territory government relationship is long overdue for reform, Labors plan is an important step towards a new era of cooperation in national politics.