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date: 25 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Australia’s federal framework is fundamental and pervasive. This chapter explains the federal logic of the Australian Constitution, discusses the evolution of the federal system in light of the constitutional framework, and critically evaluates attempts to reform the system. It is argued that, while the Constitution was designed to allow a degree of flexibility in the operation of the federal system, the constitutional, legislative, and administrative changes that have been introduced, frequently supported by the High Court’s centralizing interpretations, have sometimes contributed to problems in the practical functioning of the system rather than ameliorating them. The result has been a path dependency that makes it difficult to institute reforms that would improve the operation and effectiveness of Australian federalism.

Keywords: federalism, Constitution, division of powers, senate, fiscal powers, Commonwealth, states, High Court, reform

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