The COVID-Era and Australian Federation: State Power Rises, Old Faultlines Revealed

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    The COVID-era has transformed Australian politics. For the first time since federation 120 years ago the trajectory of centralisation of powers towards the Commonwealth has altered. Premiers have been empowered during COVID-19 through a new National Cabinet process required to fight the pandemic. When the new National Cabinet commenced in early 2020 many asked if it would change federal-State dynamics, questioning what the premiers and chief ministers will ultimately gain from the new arrangement. Answers are now emerging and the shift in power may not be a passing phenomenon although a recent decision of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal states: the mere use of the name 'National Cabinet' does not, of itself, have the effect of making a group of persons using the name a 'committee of the Cabinet'. That National Cabinet is a cabinet in name only means it can be subject to requests under s 34(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth). As the COVID pandemic continues, the ability of governments to take prompt, accurate action is vital as will be transparency. This study finds that when stress is at its peak, gaps in the institutions of intergovernmental co-operation became more glaring, decision-making more characterised by uncertainty, ambiguity, complexity as well as urgency.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)848-850
    Number of pages3
    JournalAustralian Law Journal
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2021


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