Back in 2020 I declared that if anything, the overall government response to COVID proved once and for all that the Australian Federation is fucked.
Essentially Australia has eight different jurisdictions (the feds, six states and two territories) doing things in different ways. This is most apparent in health in regards to data collection, analysing and reporting. During 2020 and 21 we were getting lots of data regarding the pandemic because it was all being collated on a national level – but that has now gone back to the separate state bodies along with “personal responsibility” regarding mask wearing and isolation.
And who knew that it was previously mandatory to report a positive RAT? I didn’t, and neither did many others I have spoken to who didn’t report their positive experience.
So, back to dealing with two or more jurisdictions.
BECA was flat out trying to keep the feds informed about how their decisions were impacting business events while other associations were targeting them in regards to festivals, music events, tourism, accommodation, etc.
But the major decisions affecting events were taken at the state level and so the various industries had to negotiate with each state and territory government as well as the feds.
So you would think that now we are in “covid normal” that all this would have settled down.
Well not really because the federation issue is not restricted to pandemic issues, take insurance for example. In my business I have photographers in all states that are all covered by my Public Liability Insurance, however Workers Compensation Insurance is done at a state level so I can only cover those who work for me in NSW while those in other states have to provide their own. This situation also involves additional accounting work to separate out those working in NSW in order to work out my coverage which is based on how much they are paid over the year.
So for small businesses the federation is not a help.
Many event companies work across more than one state or territory and had to keep up to date with the differing requirements of each jurisdiction.
There is an answer – abolish the states and local councils and replace them with say 20 counties or territories. It works for the ACT where there are only two levels of government (ACT and federal). The counties can then look after local issues such as building approvals, hospitals, emergency services, roads, rates, rubbish, etc and the feds would take responsibility for everything that is national – interstate transport systems, national electricity grid, insurances, defence, etc. It works for England.
Just imagine how much easier that would make it for the event industry – one level of government to deal with in regard to the big issues and one other to deal with local issues such as temporary structure permits. And on that issue just imagine if the temporary structure rules were the same across Sydney or Melbourne instead of varying from one LGA to another.
And imagine a tourism industry that focusses on promoting Australia instead of Sydney and Melbourne trying to outbid each other for events, business or otherwise.
But of course it will never happen because it would mean fewer politicians – and they will never give up their positions. Just look at Tasmania, a state that has more politicians per head of population than anywhere else in Australia or the world for that matter.
FYI: Tasmania has a population of 526,000 represented by 17 federal and 40 state politicians along with approx. 290 local government councillors (approx. 1 politician per 1,560 people). Contrast that with the ACT (population 430,000), represented by 5 federal and 25 state representatives (approx. 1 politician per 17,500 people).