A Shorten Labor Government will establish a new and independent COAG Economic Reform Council that will be given the autonomy to examine, track and report to COAG on long-term reform priorities.
The operation of Australia’s Federation and the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) is fundamental to driving productivity and economic growth across the nation and an independent COAG Economic Reform Council will improve this process.
The independent COAG Economic Reform Council will:
- Collate and collect consistent and comparable data from the states, territories and the Commonwealth to inform policy co-design and analysis, helping to track progress and performance; and
- Support the development of agendas for two formal COAG meetings a year and the regular Council on Federal Financial Relations meetings.
The COAG Economic Reform Council will operate at arm’s length from the Commonwealth Government and be overseen by a Board of up to six well qualified directors with a Chair appointed by the Prime Minister after consultation with the states.
The Liberal Party has completely given up on economic reform and on improving Commonwealth-State relations.
This began in 2015 with the abolition of the former COAG Reform Council– the only independent COAG body tasked with assessing COAG-level performance through independent and evidenced-based monitoring and reporting of the performance of all governments.
This former Council's work triggered systematic data collection across jurisdictions, but just as importantly, the Reform Council’s work also catalysed investment in and attention to, new reforms.
Scott Morrison’s current level of interest in the Federation is such that he thinks that COAG meetings are about eating Tim Tams instead of discussing critically important policy issues for the nation.
Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg have been members of a Liberal Government that has seen the following waste and mismanagement of Commonwealth-State relations:
- A bungled Federation White Paper process – instead of generating a national conversation it remains on the shelf gathering dust;
- A Tax White Paper process that got shelved at great taxpayer expense and stakeholder effort;
- States and Territories got so frustrated with then Treasurer Scott Morrison that they formed a Board of Treasurers to exclude him; and finally
- States and Territories united against Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg in pushing for a ‘no state will be worse off’ amendment to the GST distribution package.
The fact is that the lack of transparency and accountability in our COAG architecture has seen less cooperation and more of the Commonwealth-State blame game.
At the same time, economic reforms that will deliver the larger productivity benefits in Australia involve lifting policy levers at the state level, whether it be in housing affordability and supply, in skills and vocational training, and in health and education.
Having an independent COAG Economic Reform Council and secretariat will help get more buy-in from the states and territories and create a greater shared sense of responsibility than the current arrangements.
The council will cost $2 million over the forward estimates.