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After the election, this is the reform we need to focus on most

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13.05.2019

An election, like nothing else, beckons even the most seasoned politicians to straddle the Olympian heights of statecraft and national purpose, while tending to the quotidian exigencies that are as much a reality of life on the campaign trail.

In its own way, tea at the bowls club is no less important than discussing policy in the national media or responding delicately to international events that bear on our national interests.

Scott Morrison in the final week of the election campaign.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

Beyond the election, the question of how our federal system of government is working and can be improved will clearly rely on Olympian thinking. As we enter the final week of campaigning where the pace of events will become even more frenetic, federation reform is not likely to exercise people’s attention. But after Saturday it should.

And just as importantly, the states need to step up and drive that process, more than they have in the past. That’s not to implicitly criticise the work of federal governments over many years. Frankly, the state of our federation owes much to all governments, federal and state alike, of different persuasions over the decades.

Rather, what is missing from the debate over reform is a clear and candid indication from the states about just what they want by way of revenue-raising powers, a key issue, that will better match their service-delivery obligations.

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© The Age