Commonwealth Parliamentarians Who Have Publicly Supported the Abolition of State Governments or Similar Reforms

This page provides links to media reports and other websites that show that numerous current and past Commonwealth Parliamentarians support the abolition of State governments or related reforms.  Some media reports referred to here are no longer available online but are contained in Appendix 3E or Appendix 4E of the PhD thesis presented on this website.

Jim Snow, Federal Labor Member for Eden Monaro from 1983 till 1996, and Founding Co-Convenor of Beyond Federation, produced a Shared Government plan in the mid to late 1990s, the latest December 2012 version of which is here.  While in the parliament, Jim moved that the Executive (Cabinet) prepare a strategy to transfer State government powers to the Commonwealth and Local sectors and phase out State governments. His motion was seconded by the Hon. Lindsay Tanner (Member for Melbourne) and debated but did not reach a vote (see the House of Representatives Hansard for 9 June 1993 and 10 February 1994).

Tony Abbott, Member for Warringah (NSW)
Canberra cannot be bullied by the states, The Australian, 30 January 2003 (no longer online, but see on page 4E-14 in Appendix 4E)
States impede federal intent, The Australian, 25 January 2005 (see p. 4E-25 in Appendix 4E)
Abbott wants to overrule states in Constitution overhaul, ABC news, 10 July 2008
Australian Federalism: Rescue & Reform Conference, Thursday, 30 October 2008
BATTLELINES: Notes from National Press Club speech, Thursday, 30 July 2009
Battling the Dysfunction of Federation, on Tony's Blog at Open Forum, 12 August 2009
Some things must pass, The Australian, 14 August 2009

Bob Baldwin, Member for Paterson (NSW)
Baldwin Scraps with States, Newcastle Herald, 15 February 2002 (no longer online, but see on page 3E-108 in Appendix 3E)
Scrap State power - MP, The West Australian, 15 February 2002 (see p. 3E-108 in Appendix 3E)

Queensland Democrats Senator John Cherry, in 2004
Why the States have got to go, speech delivered 10 July 2004

Darren Chester, Member for Gippsland (Vic)
First Speech To Parliament, 26 August 2008
See especially:
We must consider moving toward a two-tiered system, perhaps a regional and a federal government, in the interests of a more cohesive and united Australia.

Peter Costello, Member for Higgins (VIC)
Federalism failing Australia: Costello, ABC news, 2 July 2006
Costello renews call for ports handover, ABC news, 2 July 2006
Treasurer backs Commonwealth control of tax, ABC news, 2 July 2006
Federal fight that Peter knows we have to have, by Steve Lewis, The Australian, 3 July 2006 (no longer online, but see on page 4E-57 in Appendix 4E)
Federalism failing Australia: Costello, AM radio program, 3 July 2006
Downer backs push to take powers from states, ABC news, 3 July 2006
Costello steps up federalism push, ABC news, 4 July 2006
PM backs attack on states, by Mark Davis and Laura Tingle, Australian Financial Review, 4 July 2006 (see p. 4E-59 in Appendix 4E)
Federalism a relic of last century: Costello, by Ross Peake, Canberra Times, 5 July 2006 (see p. 4E-63 in Appendix 4E)

Pat Farmer, Member for Macarthur (NSW)
MPs' brainstorm creates whirlpool of ideas, by Michelle Grattan and Misha Schubert, The Age, 19 September 2007, see especially:
Parliamentary secretary Pat Farmer decried Australia being over-governed, suggesting it might be time to take up the campaign to abolish the states.

Joel Fitzgibbon, Member for Hunter (NSW)
Abolish state governments: Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon, The Australian, 3 July 2008
Fitzgibbon after Federation: abolish the states, by David Mclennan, Canberra Times, 4 July 2008
Call to abolish costly states, says Defence Minister, Herald Sun, 4 July 2008
Abolish states to avoid duplication: Fitzgibbon, ABC news, 4 July 2008
New Thinking for a New Century – Building on the Barton Legacy, Address by Joel Fitzgibbon MP, Federal Member for Hunter, Minister for Defence
Inaugural Edmund Barton Lecture, Newcastle, 3 July 2008

Barnaby Joyce, Senator for Queensland
The Inevitable Progression Towards Local Government, Media Release, 17 November 2008
Abolish state rule, says Joyce, Courier Mail, 17 November 2008
Abolish state governments, says Barnaby Joyce, Courier Mail, 17 November 2008
Global downturn 'spells end of state govts', ABC News, 11 May 2009
Senator Barnaby Joyce – The National Party Manifesto, including Barnaby's 11 May 2009 National Press Club speech
Spill no tears for the middle tier, Sydney Morning Herald, 25 May 2009
Whither state governments?, with Richard Fidler, ABC Radio Brisbane, 25 May 2009
Leadership Team On The Road, Barnaby's Blog, 6 September 2009, see especially:
The other major issue affecting people in the regions is health and the state of the hospitals. The Nationals released a Regional Health policy at the Federal Council in Canberra in August that calls for a Regional Health Minister and the return of local hospital boards. The health of regional hospitals will continue to ail while decisions are made at arm's length. Local knowledge is the best cure for bad spending decisions that are made by incompetent state governments.

Peter Lindsay, Member for Herbert (QLD)
MPs divided over a new northern state', by Benjamin Haslem and Matt Robbins, The Australian
(see p. 3E-76 in Appendix 3E), see especially:
Queensland federal Liberal MP Peter Lindsay, whose seat of Herbert includes Townsville, said state governments should be abolished and replaced with stronger local governments.  Responsibility for education, health and main roads should be passed to the federal government, he said. "If you have strong local governments in the regions then you find you are responsive to whatever the local problems are," he said.

Brendan Nelson, Member for Bradfield (VIC)

Lindsay Tanner, Member for Melbourne (VIC)
First Speech To Parliament, 6 May 1993, see especially:
The mention of State parliaments brings me to my third and final theme: my desire to see the abolition of State governments.
The honourable member for Bennelong (Mr Howard) was even quoted in the Australian about 18 months ago implicitly suggesting that it would be a good idea if the State structure were done away with. I suspect the honourable member might have changed his mind in recent times, but time will tell. In its publication `Government in Australia in the 1990s: a business perspective', the Business Council of Australia described the existing structure of government in this country as `archaic, inefficient and in urgent need of reform', and called for a two tier system of government.
Abolish the States, by Lindsay Tanner, New Matilda, 23 November 2005
(See also several articles in Appendix 3E, on pages 3E-28, 3E-29, 3E-33, 3E-62 and 3E-63)

Senator Russell Trood, Senator for Queensland
Speech on Regionalism in the Senate, 5 December 2006
See especially:
The model of enhanced regionalism that will work best for Australia is a matter for debate. We could pursue more states created from existing ones, stronger regions with more widely devolved powers created within states or, of course, the even more radical idea of abolishing the states altogether and moving to a two-tier system of governance with many regions. All are possibilities. We can debate these options in due course. For the moment, we have a far greater challenge—that is, to imagine a new federal future around a stronger, more sustainable regionalism. Perhaps we should be concerned that the Australian people have no interest in such things. On this matter, I draw the Senate’s attention to the Constitutional Values Survey in Queensland and New South Wales undertaken by researchers at Griffith University. They showed a remarkably high knowledge of the problems of federalism among the public and a willingness to embrace reform.

Tony Windsor, Independent Federal MP for New England
Speech at the 5th Shed a Tier Congress, Canberra, 28 June 2002
Country areas better off without states: Windsor, ABC News, 23 August 2007
Constitutional change would bring better deal to country Australians, media release, 24 August 2007

Past supporters include ...

Prime Minister Chris Watson (PM in 1904), see especially:
His objective of strengthening the Federal branch against the State organizations led him to consider seriously national unification in place of Federation.

Frederick Bamford in 1910
Abolish State Government, Grey River Argus, New Zealand, 14 July 1910, Page 6
Abolition of State Governments, Ashburton Guardian, New Zealand, 14 July 1910, Page 1

Prime Minister Andrew Fisher in 1912
Mr. Fisher and the Labor Party, Evening Post, New Zealand, 16 January 1912, Page 2

Dr Earle Page, in 1917, before he became Deputy Prime Minister and Prime Minister, supported Unification

Prime Minister James Scullin (PM 1929-1932), see especially:
An Australian nationalist, he preferred unification to the Federal system

Sir Robert Menzies, in 1942
Mr Menzies, M P, on Unification Methods, The Argus (Melbourne), Saturday 3 October 1942, Page 2

Prime Minister Ben Chifley (PM 1945-1949), see especially:
Chifley was a strong opponent of the Bruce government’s approach to Commonwealth–State powers. SM Bruce and his coalition partner, deputy Prime Minister Earle Page, saw the States as the proper holders of contested powers. Chifley was an avowed centralist. He not only wanted to make the Constitution easier to alter, he proposed to abolish the States altogether. To Chifley, only then would the ‘seeds of national unity have at last come into flower’.

Prime Minister Bob Hawke
The power of speech: Australian Prime Ministers defining the national image, by James Curran, 2006

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