Friday, April 13, 2007

COAG Meeting - April 2007

The COAG meeting has finished with its usual "we're all different, but we can work with each other" press conference. These are stage-managed by agreement so that no politician can come out looking worse for wear. IMage is important.

But what really happened? Well, among the items were:

  • Health: $100m from the commonwealth; and $100m from the states (collectively) to improve the health, and productivity, of the population by helping those who are obese &/or who have ,, or have in increased risk of, diabetes. Also, the states will get some say in hospital training of specialist doctors. such as surgeons. They will need extra funding, over and above whatever else is needed, to pay for such training.
  • Education: movement towards a more uniform national school curriculum, and school starting ages.
  • Workplace Skills: Builders, carpenters, electricians and mechanics will soon be able to have their skills qualifications recognised when they move interstate.

  • Education: The states have called Julie Bishop's bluff. With a Federal election due in the next 6 months, the states have jointly expressed their concern over Julie Bishop's plan for "performance pay" for teachers, and have called her bluff. Her plan was also criticised by ACER, which completed a study for Julie Bishop's department. Whether John Howard will honour her promise to withhold $3 billion in federal funding to states for public education remains to be seen. I believe it would be electoral suicide for the Federal Government to withhold that funding so close to an election. The states will win ... this time.
  • Climate change: John Howard refused to accept the States' plan (adopted from Federal Labor leader Kevin Rudd) to set a target for greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2050. Politically, he could never be seen to accept a policy proposed by the Leader of the Opposition. However, if you don't have a target, you have no chance of hitting it. Perhaps there would have been a better outcome if the States' plan showed some differences from Kevin Rudd's plan.
  • Water: Victoria still refuses to agree to John Howard's national water plan. The Labor Premier, Steve Bracks, is supported by the Victorian Farmers Federation, a fact that must rile the Prime Minister and his National Party deputy.

Perhaps the COAG meeting wasn't all amicable discussion about the "new federalism".

The Analyst