Australia faces major challenges to its forms of governance. Changing expectations from its citizens, global pressures on the economy and technological innovation are impacting on government operations. Yet most of its institutions were designed a hundred years ago. Cabinet government was inherited. Parliament was already established in its forms and procedures. The federal structure, the High Court and the federal public service were created as a consequence. The party structure has been effectively frozen since the 1920s and a tradition of handing some responsibilities to arms-length organisations was well established.
So how have these institutions changed over the last hundred years and how well will they adapt to the demands of the modern world? Do they have the capacity to adapt appropriately and enable governments to achieve their preferred outcomes?
In this book experienced academics and practitioners explore these questions. They examine each of the institutions in terms of their ability to meet new challenges and provide some hope that Australia's institutions, even if at times slow to move and dominated by internal interests, have a capacity to adapt and govern effectively. The book shows our political institutions in a new light, as dynamic, often flexible organisms; it provides important new insights into the way we are governed and how our system of governance might develop in the future.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The institutions of governance - Patrick Weller
1. The future roles of parliament - John Uhr and John Wanna
2. Cabinet government: An institution under pressure - Michael Keating and Patrick Weller
3. From hierarchy to contracts and back again: Reforming the Australian public service - Glyn Davis and R.A.W Rhodes
4. Arm's length policy-making: The privatisation of economic policy - Fred Argy
5. Remaking federalism? - Michael Keating and John Wanna
6. Political parties and the party system: Challenges for effective governing - Patrick Weller and Liz Young
7. Gaps in policy-making capacities: Interest groups, social movements, think tanks and the media - Ian Marsh
8. Governance and the High Court - Haig Patapan
9. Conclusion: Institutional adaptability and coherence - John Wanna and Michael Keating
Michael Keating was the secretary of the departments of Industrial Relations, Finance and Prime Minister and Cabinet between 1983 and 1996. He is adjunct professor of politics and public policy at Griffith University.
John Wanna teaches public policy and politics at Griffith University. He is a co-author of the highly successful Public Policy in Australia with Patrick Weller.
Patrick Weller is the author of several books on Australian politics, in particular the area of executive government. They include First Among Equals (1985), Malcolm Fraser PM (1989), New Ideas? Better Government? (1995) and Dodging Raindrops: John Button (1999).