REAL AUSTRALIA

Voice of Real Australia: COVID exposes big cracks in our national unity

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UNDER ONE FLAG: The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the deep rivalry between the states and our national government which isn't helping finding solutions to our biggest challenges. Photo: Shutterstock

UNDER ONE FLAG: The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the deep rivalry between the states and our national government which isn't helping finding solutions to our biggest challenges. Photo: Shutterstock

COVID-19 has focused attention on a number of major issues in Australia, not the least the frayed state of our federation.

On January 1, 1901, Australia became a nation when six British colonies - NSW, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania - united to form the Commonwealth of Australia.

The states certainly haven't been that united during the coronavirus pandemic with their Premiers annoyingly slamming shut borders at short notice in response to each detection of a few new cases in other states.

Queensland's Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan fought state elections during the pandemic and plenty of critics suggested they ramped up interstate rivalry to get votes.

While the Premiers and Prime Minister were throwing crockery at each other, our medical professionals developed systems to snuff out new outbreaks with super-quick contact tracing which meant the virus could be contained in relatively small "hotspots".

Unfortunately, Victoria suffered the biggest and longest lockdowns which put its Premier Daniel Andrews in the daily media spotlight for months.

Cue a noisy battle between armies of his supporters and detractors.

The slow and haphazard rollout of the vaccines has sparked another row between the Prime Minister and Premiers.

Team Australia (our political leaders, in this case) has performed poorly during the long battle to rein in COVID after starting out so positively and cohesively through the National Cabinet.

Take a journey through the tortured story around the "management" of the Murray-Darling Basin for a longer-term view of how disunity and rivalry among the states affect sensible decision-making.

Australia has only 26 million people who don't need the number of points-scoring politicians who now "serve" them at the local, state and federal level.

So is Australia's progress destined to be forever hindered by a political system where the conservatives and their hangers-on and Labor and its allies continue to engage in dogfights at federal, state and local government levels?

The answer is probably yes because it's almost certainly too late to ditch the states and Australia does need a national government for obvious reasons headed by defence, trade and diplomacy.

The COVID crisis has focused sharp attention on the need for more intelligent, experienced and talented people to be persuaded to put up their hands for all levels of government.

The big problem in attracting them is the money they can earn elsewhere while not having to deal with constant pressure from the workload and pesky political journalists and commentators, many of whom are partisan.

The Senate, in particular, seems to attract more than its fair share of fruitcakes and a good first step in overhauling and streamlining Australia's political system would be to scrap it altogether.

And the Upper houses of the Victorian, NSW, South Australian, Tasmanian and Western Australia parliaments should also face the same fate.

Australians do a lot of whining about the calibre of our politicians but they must understand they are the only ones who can drive major change through the ballot box.

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