The Turbulent Effects of COVID-19 Policy on Australian Federalism and National Uniform Legislation

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Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted intergovernmental reforms across nine jurisdictions in Australia, with divergent state policies reviving debates about the core federal structure. This article probes the effects of the divergent COVID-19 policies on the federation and examines how state responses can, in future, strengthen federation by considering unique regional characteristics within a national context. Advocacy coalitions, such as public health, business and economic, have influenced policy responses, some seeking strict measures to contain the virus others prioritising economic recovery. This study identifies that the divergent and incremental post-pandemic legislation occurring within individual jurisdictions may lead to divisions that may not be beneficial for the next emergency. Rushing into expedient legislation that serves one jurisdiction may not produce optimal outcomes for that state or Australia as a whole, especially when shaped by strong local advocacy coalitions. Longer-term considerations and a more cohesive approach are necessary to ensure best outcomes for the states, territories and the Australian federation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)842-854
JournalAustralian Law Journal
Volume97
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2023

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