Australia

   

Executive Capacity

#13
Key Findings
With some improvement evident in the government’s legislative record, Australia falls into the upper-middle ranks (rank 13) in the sphere of executive capacity. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.3 points relative to 2014.

The government office coordinates policy development, working closely with line ministries. Significant recent public-sector jobs cuts have threatened to undermine planning ability. Experts say a recent shift of border, security and immigration agencies into one portfolio is unlikely to improve strategic planning or policy implementation.

RIAs are generally required at the federal and state levels, though these often lack transparency and do not explicitly address long-term sustainability. Despite a tradition of communication coherency , the current government has not conveyed a clear direction, with some members expressing outspoken dissent.

While many tasks are constitutionally delegated to states and territories, funding is often inadequate, and likely to fall further. However, federal/state relationships have improved markedly in recent years. Australian society shows an willingness to resist international pressures, as on the issues of migrants or emissions policy.

Strategic Capacity

#12

How much influence do strategic planning units and bodies have on government decision-making?

10
 9

Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions, and they exercise strong influence on government decision-making.
 8
 7
 6


Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions. Their influence on government decision-making is systematic but limited in issue scope or depth of impact.
 5
 4
 3


Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions. Occasionally, they exert some influence on government decision-making.
 2
 1

In practice, there are no units and bodies taking a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions.
Strategic Planning
7
Probably the most important government body for encouraging long-term strategic policy development is the Productivity Commission, which notionally provides advice to government on microeconomic policy, but which increasingly is asked to provide advice in other policy areas. The Productivity Commission conducts reviews and inquiries as directed by government, and also independently produces research reports. All advice and reports are publicly released in a timely fashion.

Within the Commonwealth public service, extensive use is made of committees to undertake strategic planning, and these committees’ activities generally peak immediately before and after the transition to a new government, and in the pre-budget period. The public service also maintains a single department, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, with the aim of coordinating and directing strategic planning across the government as a whole.

The coalition government rationalized the number of government departments and agencies shortly after coming into office in September 2013. The Community and Public Sector Union estimated that 18,000 public sector jobs have been cut in the subsequent period. The implications for strategic planning are not likely positive.

Citations:
http://www.blackincbooks.com/books/dog-days

http://www.cpsu.org.au/news/why-re-elected-turnbull-government-bad-your-job

http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/paul-keating-australia-lacks-a-foreign-policy-to-negotiate-the-rise-of-china-20160830-gr4y70.html

Productivity Commission: https://www.pc.gov.au/

https://www.pc.gov.au/research/ongoing/trade-assistance

https://www.pc.gov.au/research/completed/rising-protectionism

How influential are non-governmental academic experts for government decisionmaking?

10
 9

In almost all cases, the government transparently consults with a panel of non-governmental academic experts at an early stage of government decision-making.
 8
 7
 6


For major political projects, the government transparently consults with a panel of non-governmental academic experts at an early stage of government decision-making.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, the government transparently consults with a panel of non-governmental academic experts at an early stage of government decision-making.
 2
 1

The government does not consult with non-governmental academic experts, or existing consultations lack transparency entirely and/or are exclusively pro forma.
Scholarly Advice
6
The federal government has always made extensive use of scientific and specialist scholarly advice, particularly in areas such as health and medicine, and science and technology.

Since the late 1990s, and particularly since 2007, the federal government has funded a range of specialist centers and institutes aimed at undertaking fundamental research and planning, the findings from which feed into government policy. Examples include government support for regulation and compliance centers at the Australian National University, with the Regulatory Institutions Network (RegNet), and the establishment of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government, which is a postgraduate faculty set up by the Australian and New Zealand governments, and by the state governments in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.

Despite these formal mechanisms, academic influence on government decision-making is relatively limited, particularly in economic and social policy domains. Australian governments accept advice on technical issues, but much less so on political and economic issues. The notable exception is that the Productivity Commission draws on expert advice when conducting inquiries and reviews.

Interministerial Coordination

#4

Does the government office / prime minister’s office (GO / PMO) have the expertise to evaluate ministerial draft bills substantively?

10
 9

The GO / PMO has comprehensive sectoral policy expertise and provides regular, independent evaluations of draft bills for the cabinet / prime minister. These assessments are guided exclusively by the government’s strategic and budgetary priorities.
 8
 7
 6


The GO / PMO has sectoral policy expertise and evaluates important draft bills.
 5
 4
 3


The GO / PMO can rely on some sectoral policy expertise, but does not evaluate draft bills.
 2
 1

The GO / PMO does not have any sectoral policy expertise. Its role is limited to collecting, registering and circulating documents submitted for cabinet meetings.
GO Expertise
9
The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet is responsible for policy coordination, and as such evaluates and provides advice on all major line ministry proposals. The department has significant resources, and has authority to draw from, and consult with, appropriate sources across the whole of the government system.

Citations:
https://www.pmc.gov.au/who-we-are

Can the government office / prime minister’s office return items envisaged for the cabinet meeting on the basis of policy considerations?

10
 9

The GO/PMO can return all/most items on policy grounds.
 8
 7
 6


The GO/PMO can return some items on policy grounds.
 5
 4
 3


The GO/PMO can return items on technical, formal grounds only.
 2
 1

The GO/PMO has no authority to return items.
GO Gatekeeping
10
All major policy proposals must pass through the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. In its role of coordinating government policy and ensuring a consistent and coherent legislative program, the department has the capacity to return any item that conflicts with the government’s overall policy agenda. However, such an occasion rarely arises, since the department is involved at an early stage in assisting with the drafting of any significant policy initiatives, so it does not reach an advanced stage without department approval.

To what extent do line ministries involve the government office/prime minister’s office in the preparation of policy proposals?

10
 9

There are inter-related capacities for coordination in the GO/PMO and line ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The GO/PMO is regularly briefed on new developments affecting the preparation of policy proposals.
 5
 4
 3


Consultation is rather formal and focuses on technical and drafting issues.
 2
 1

Consultation occurs only after proposals are fully drafted as laws.
Line Ministries
9
The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PMC) is always involved at an early stage in assisting with the development and drafting of any significant government policy and the resulting legislation. The PMC and the other relevant department have to both agree on a policy before it can be tabled in cabinet or considered by the relevant minister or ministers.

How effectively do ministerial or cabinet committees coordinate cabinet proposals?

10
 9

The large majority of cabinet proposals are reviewed and coordinated first by committees.
 8
 7
 6


Most cabinet proposals are reviewed and coordinated by committees, in particular proposals of political or strategic importance.
 5
 4
 3


There is little review or coordination of cabinet proposals by committees.
 2
 1

There is no review or coordination of cabinet proposals by committees. Or: There is no ministerial or cabinet committee.
Cabinet Committees
8
Committees serve a purpose in dealing with various matters, which include: highly sensitive issues, for example revenue or security matters; relatively routine issues, for example a government’s weekly parliamentary program; business that is labor intensive or requires detailed consideration by a smaller group of ministers, for example the expenditure review that takes place before the annual budget, or oversight of the government’s initiatives in relation to a sustainable environment. The prime minister usually establishes a number of standing committees of the cabinet (e.g., expenditure review, national security, parliamentary business). Additional committees, including ad hoc committees, may be set up from time to time for particular purposes, such as handling a national disaster.

Citations:
https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Joint

How effectively do ministry officials/civil servants coordinate policy proposals?

10
 9

Most policy proposals are effectively coordinated by ministry officials/civil servants.
 8
 7
 6


Many policy proposals are effectively coordinated by ministry officials/civil servants.
 5
 4
 3


There is some coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials/civil servants.
 2
 1

There is no or hardly any coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials/civil servants.
Ministerial Bureaucracy
8
There is generally a high level of coordination between line ministry public servants. In most cases, ministries must coordinate with the Department of Finance and the Treasury, since they are responsible for finding the resources for any new policy developments, and such developments must feed into the government’s spending and budget cycle. Where there are legal implications, there must be coordination with the Attorney General’s Department. Departments least likely to coordinate their activities across the government portfolio are Defense and Foreign Affairs and Trade, since their activities have the fewest implications across the other portfolios.

Coordination is especially effective when the political leadership is driving proposals, but less effective on policy matters initiated at the level of the minister or department, in part reflecting greater uncertainty among civil servants as to the support for the proposal from the political leadership. It also reflects differences in policy priorities and culture across departments, as well as inherent competition between departments for power, relevance and resources.

How effectively do informal coordination mechanisms complement formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination?

10
 9

Informal coordination mechanisms generally support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 8
 7
 6


In most cases, informal coordination mechanisms support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, informal coordination mechanisms support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 2
 1

Informal coordination mechanisms tend to undermine rather than complement formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
Informal Coordination
8
Information coordination procedures exist at the level of the party, where informal consultations on policies take place on a regular basis to make sure that the party leadership supports the government’s direction; this occurs regardless of which party is in office. The federal system and the division of responsibilities between the federal government and the state and territory governments means that informal coordination is always an important component of any policy that may involve the states. These procedures are ad hoc, and take place at two levels, among ministers from different jurisdictions, and at the level of senior public servants.

Evidence-based Instruments

#25

To what extent does the government assess the potential impacts of existing and prepared legal acts (regulatory impact assessments, RIA)?

10
 9

RIA are applied to all new regulations and to existing regulations which are characterized by complex impact paths. RIA methodology is guided by common minimum standards.
 8
 7
 6


RIA are applied systematically to most new regulations. RIA methodology is guided by common minimum standards.
 5
 4
 3


RIA are applied in some cases. There is no common RIA methodology guaranteeing common minimum standards.
 2
 1

RIA are not applied or do not exist.
RIA Application
8
The federal government and the state and territory governments require the preparation of regulation impact statements (RIS) for significant regulatory proposals. An RIS provides a formal assessment of the costs and benefits of a regulatory proposal and alternative options for that proposal, followed by a recommendation supporting the most effective and efficient option. RISs are thus not assessments of the socioeconomic impacts of regulatory proposals, although such impacts are implicitly taken into account as part of the process. More significantly, in recent years, while around 75% to 85% of all Australian government proposals with significant impacts led to the performance of an RIS, this share was lower for proposals with highly significant impacts.

Since many government functions and responsibilities are shared between the federal government and the states, these shared activities are coordinated through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), which is the body that brings the federal and state governments together to decide policy. The procedures for the preparation of RIS proposals differ between the federal government and the COAG. Most states and territories have their own requirements for RISs that apply where a regulation will have effect in only a single state or territory. At the federal level, RISs are managed by the Office of Best Practice Regulation, which is part of the Department of Finance and Deregulation.

Citations:
Productivity Commission, ‘Regulatory Impact Analysis: Benchmarking,’ Research Report, November 2012: http://www.pc.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/120675/ria-benchmarking.pdf

http://www.oecd.org/publications/oecd-regulatory-policy-outlook-2015-9789264238770-en.htm

https://www.pmc.gov.au/regulation/developing-regulation-impact-statement

Does the RIA process ensure participation, transparency and quality evaluation?

10
 9

RIA analyses consistently involve stakeholders by means of consultation or collaboration, results are transparently communicated to the public and assessments are effectively evaluated by an independent body on a regular basis.
 8
 7
 6


The RIA process displays deficiencies with regard to one of the three objectives.
 5
 4
 3


The RIA process displays deficiencies with regard to two of the three objectives.
 2
 1

RIA analyses do not exist or the RIA process fails to achieve any of the three objectives of process quality.
Quality of RIA Process
5
The preparation of a RIS follows a standard procedure in which policymakers gather the information that will enable them to evaluate the extent to which the proposed regulatory changes will result in a net benefit to the community. The Office of Best Practice Regulation within the Department of Finance and Deregulation, which administers both the federal government and COAG’ regulation requirements, seeks a range of information about any new regulation. The level of information required is commensurate with the magnitude of the problem that is being addressed, and the size of the potential impact of the proposal. The Office of Best Practice Regulation uses a number of “adequacy criteria” to assess whether a RIS contains the appropriate levels of information and analysis for it to be assessed as adequate.

In 2012, the Productivity Commission, at the request of the Australian government, produced a report assessing the performance of jurisdictions’ regulatory impact analysis processes, including those at the level of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), and identifying leading practices. Findings of major concern from the report include the following: a number of proposals with highly significant impacts are either exempted from RIA processes or are not rigorously analyzed; public consultation on policy development is often perfunctory or occurs only after development of draft legislation; and public transparency – that is, informing stakeholders about revisions to policy proposals and providing information used in decision-making, or providing reasons for not subjecting proposals to impact analysis – was a glaring weakness in most Australian RIA processes. Furthermore, a major problem in implementing RIA requirements was that the policy decisions often occurred prior to commencement of the RIA process. However, the commission concluded that the regulatory impact analysis process was worth retaining despite unclear benefits.

Citations:
Productivity Commission, ‘Regulatory Impact Analysis: Benchmarking,’ Research Report, November 2012: http://www.pc.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/120675/ria-benchmarking.pdf

http://www.oecd.org/gov/regulatory-policy/Breakout-session-2-Rosalyn%20Bell-RIA-Australia%27s-experience.pdf

https://www.pmc.gov.au/regulation/regulation-impact-analysis-training

Does the government conduct effective sustainability checks within the framework of RIA?

10
 9

Sustainability checks are an integral part of every RIA; they draw on an exhaustive set of indicators (including social, economic, and environmental aspects of sustainability) and track impacts from the short- to long-term.
 8
 7
 6


Sustainability checks lack one of the three criteria.
 5
 4
 3


Sustainability checks lack two of the three criteria.
 2
 1

Sustainability checks do not exist or lack all three criteria.
Sustainability Check
1
Sustainability checks are not explicitly an integrated component of RIAs in Australia. There is no formally adopted sustainability strategy in Australia.

Societal Consultation

#12

To what extent does the government consult with societal actors to support its policy?

10
 9

The government successfully motivates societal actors to support its policy.
 8
 7
 6


The government facilitates the acceptance of its policy among societal actors.
 5
 4
 3


The government consults with societal actors.
 2
 1

The government rarely consults with any societal actors.
Negotiating Public Support
7
The degree of societal consultation on policy development varies depending on the issue, the party in government and numerous contextual factors. The key groups often consulted are trade unions and business-advocacy groups, but other special interests – religious groups, environmental organizations and pro-family groups, for example – also have advocacy groups that are sometimes brought into discussions about policy. Traditionally, Labor governments have been more likely to consult with trade unions, while coalition governments have been more likely to consult with business groups. However, governments of both persuasions have engaged in extensive consultation on some policies while ignoring consultation on others.

Citations:
https://www.pc.gov.au/about/core-functions/inquiries-and-studies

Policy Communication

#4

To what extent does the government achieve coherent communication?

10
 9

The government effectively coordinates the communication of ministries; ministries closely align their communication with government strategy. Messages are factually coherent with the government’s plans.
 8
 7
 6


The government coordinates the communication of ministries. Contradictory statements are rare, but do occur. Messages are factually coherent with the government’s plans.
 5
 4
 3


The ministries are responsible for informing the public within their own particular areas of competence; their statements occasionally contradict each other. Messages are sometimes not factually coherent with the government’s plans.
 2
 1

Strategic communication planning does not exist; individual ministry statements regularly contradict each other. Messages are often not factually coherent with the government’s plans.
Coherent Communication
8
Australian governments have traditionally made considerable efforts to align their policy priorities with the messages that they communicate to the public. A number of factors have helped efforts to align policy priorities with the messages communicated to the public: a tradition of very strong discipline across all the major political parties (perhaps the strongest among the Westminster democracies); a tradition of suppressing dissent within the parties (often by the threat of de-selection at the next election); strong adherence to the Westminster doctrine of collective cabinet responsibility; and an activist mass media and political opposition that seeks to exploit any apparent policy divisions within the government.

However, governments have been relatively unstable since 2007, rendering coherent policy communication more difficult. The current government has proven unable to publicly offer a clear sense of direction, and has suffered from outspoken dissent by some members of government. In a range of policy fields (e.g., economic policy, foreign policy, climate change policy), the government has been unable to publicly communicate a coherent policy agenda.

Implementation

#10

To what extent can the government achieve its own policy objectives?

10
 9

The government can largely implement its own policy objectives.
 8
 7
 6


The government is partly successful in implementing its policy objectives or can implement some of its policy objectives.
 5
 4
 3


The government partly fails to implement its objectives or fails to implement several policy objectives.
 2
 1

The government largely fails to implement its policy objectives.
Government Efficiency
6
In September 2015, Malcolm Turnbull became prime minister. The transition from from Abbott to Turnbull increased public optimism that the government would successfully implement its policy agenda. However, optimism soon faded and the government called a “double-dissolution” election in July 2016. Under a double-dissolution election, all 76 senate seats are contested, rather than the usual 40 seats. The strategy backfired. The coalition government only won a very narrow majority in the lower house and a reduced number of seats in the upper house. Policy gridlock increased following the July 2016 election, but in 2017 the government has had more success in negotiating with the minor parties to pass legislation.

Citations:
http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/brilliant-and-fearless-but-paul-keating-was-right-about-turnbull-20090626-czt7.html

To what extent does the organization of government provide incentives to ensure that ministers implement the government’s program?

10
 9

The organization of government successfully provides strong incentives for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 8
 7
 6


The organization of government provides some incentives for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 5
 4
 3


The organization of government provides weak incentives for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 2
 1

The organization of government does not provide any incentives for ministers to implement the government’s program.
Ministerial Compliance
10
Strong party discipline and adherence to the Westminster doctrine of cabinet collective responsibility ensure that ministers have strong incentives to implement the government’s program, rather than follow their own self-interest. Australian prime ministers are very dependent on their party caucuses and cannot govern against the majority in the caucus. Labor prime ministers in particular are limited in their choice of ministers, and typically have to accept the nominations of the various party factions. The recent successful challenge demonstrated that Liberal prime ministers are also increasingly dependent on their caucuses.

Citations:
Pat Weller, Prime ministers, in: Brian Galligan; Winsome Roberts, The Oxford Companion to Australian Politics, Sydney: Oxford University Press 2007, S. 460-463.

How effectively does the government office/prime minister’s office monitor line ministry activities with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The GO / PMO effectively monitors the implementation activities of all line ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The GO / PMO monitors the implementation activities of most line ministries.
 5
 4
 3


The GO / PMO monitors the implementation activities of some line ministries.
 2
 1

The GO / PMO does not monitor the implementation activities of line ministries.
Monitoring Ministries
10
There is strong central oversight of the line ministries by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, which reports directly to the prime minister. The Commonwealth public service, while independent of the government, is strongly motivated to support the government’s program.

How effectively do federal and subnational ministries monitor the activities of bureaucracies and executive agencies with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The ministries effectively monitor the implementation activities of all bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 8
 7
 6


The ministries monitor the implementation activities of most bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 5
 4
 3


The ministries monitor the implementation activities of some bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 2
 1

The ministries do not monitor the implementation activities of bureaucracies/executive agencies.
Monitoring Agencies, Bureaucracies
9
The performance of ministries in monitoring the activities of executive agencies varies, in part due to differences in the degree of independence granted to agencies. For example, central bank independence is core to the credibility of monetary policy and is legislatively protected, which constrains parliament’s capacity to monitor the agency. This notwithstanding, the general pattern over recent years has been one of increasing accountability of the 170-plus statutory authorities and officeholders to the relevant federal minister. The most notable concrete indicator of this trend is that in 2002 the Australian government commissioned a review of the corporate governance of Commonwealth statutory authorities and office holders, the Review of the Corporate Governance of Statutory Authorities and Office Holders (the Uhrig Review). The objective of the review was to identify issues surrounding existing governance arrangements and provide options for the government to improve the performance and get the best from statutory authorities, their office holders and their accountability frameworks. The review was completed in 2004 and a number of the recommendations have since been adopted.

To what extent does the central government ensure that tasks delegated to subnational self-governments are adequately funded?

10
 9

The central government enables subnational self-governments to fulfill all their delegated tasks by funding these tasks sufficiently and/or by providing adequate revenue-raising powers.
 8
 7
 6


The central government enables subnational governments to fulfill most of their delegated tasks by funding these tasks sufficiently and/or by providing adequate revenue-raising powers.
 5
 4
 3


The central government sometimes and deliberately shifts unfunded mandates to subnational governments.
 2
 1

The central government often and deliberately shifts unfunded mandates to subnational self-governments.
Task Funding
6
Tasks are delegated to the states and territories not by choice, but by constitutional requirement, yet the states and territories are highly reliant on the Commonwealth to finance the myriad services they provide, including primary, secondary and vocational education, police, justice systems, public transport, roads and many health services. This dependence has been a source of much conflict, and many would argue it has led to inadequate provision of state-government provided services. The federal government’s commitment to completely pass on to the states all revenue raised by a broad-based consumption tax introduced in 2000 only marginally reduced the tension between the two levels of government. Certainly, it has not helped that prices in education and health care have in recent years risen faster than general price levels, while the proportion of expenditure subject to the consumption tax has declined from 56% in 2005 to around 47% in 2015. In response, the previous Labor government attempted to address underfunding of health care and education, reaching funding agreements on health care with most jurisdictions in 2011 and making progress on agreements for school funding in early 2013. The coalition government has not shown the same commitment to increasing health and education funding, and indeed has indicated an intention to scale back federal funding. Since its rise to power in September 2013, the coalition government has delivered a significant budget deficit in every fiscal year. Consequently, task funding is likely to fall further than rise over coming years. The notable exception is for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (currently in the process of being rolled out), which has had its funding secured by a 0.5% increase of the Medicare Levy (levied on taxable income) from July 2019.

Citations:
Australian Government ‘Re:think Tax Discussion Paper,’ March 2015: http://bettertax.gov.au/publications/discussion-paper/.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-02/gst-hike-would-raise-130b-modelling-shows/6903782

https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1617/Quick_Guides/NDIS

To what extent does central government ensure that subnational self-governments may use their constitutional scope of discretion with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The central government enables subnational self-governments to make full use of their constitutional scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 8
 7
 6


Central government policies inadvertently limit the subnational self-governments’ scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 5
 4
 3


The central government formally respects the constitutional autonomy of subnational self-governments, but de facto narrows their scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 2
 1

The central government deliberately precludes subnational self-governments from making use of their constitutionally provided implementation autonomy.
Constitutional Discretion
5
The responsibilities of the Commonwealth and of the states and territories are clearly laid out in the Australian constitution. However, they have been subject to judicial review over the course of the century, which has resulted in the increasing centralization of executive power. In turn, the policies of the major political parties have been to increase this centralization in the interests of fiscal and administrative efficiency. However, given the restrictions of the Australian constitution, the federal-state relationship is suboptimal, but not as problematic as some state representatives suggest. The states and territories have sought legal redress through the courts on occasions when they have felt that their authority has been diminished by the Commonwealth government. On a number of occasions, the federal government has also used its superior financial position to coerce state governments to relinquish powers or adopt favored policies of the federal government, which has had the effect of subverting their constitutional scope of discretion. However, the relationship between the federal and the state level has improved in recent years, although there is room for additional improvement. Considering the asymmetrical relationship of the past, the current situation is much improved.

Citations:
https://www.ceda.com.au/research-and-policy/research/2009/11/economy/six_myths_federal_state

http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/everything-is-on-the-table-leaked-coag-agenda-reveals-gst-changes-being-considered-20151208-gli766.html

https://www.coag.gov.au/about-coag/agreements/intergovernmental-agreement-implementing-water-reform-murray-darling-basin

To what extent does central government ensure that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services?

10
 9

Central government effectively ensures that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
 8
 7
 6


Central government largely ensures that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
 5
 4
 3


Central government ensures that subnational self-governments realize national minimum standards of public services.
 2
 1

Central government does not ensure that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
National Standards
6
The Commonwealth has a strong commitment to providing uniform national services, and it makes considerable effort to ensure that program delivery, particularly in health and education, is as uniform as possible across the country. This attempt at uniformity is necessarily complicated by differences in sizes of states and population distribution, and by resistance from state governments keen to preserve their independence. Variation in funding levels according to need (as determined by an independent statutory authority, the Commonwealth Grants Commission) helps to ensure uniformity. Moreover, contingent funding is regularly used by the Commonwealth to achieve uniformity in minimum standards.

Adaptability

#22

To what extent does the government respond to international and supranational developments by adapting domestic government structures?

10
 9

The government has appropriately and effectively adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 8
 7
 6


In many cases, the government has adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, the government has adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational.
 2
 1

The government has not adapted domestic government structures no matter how useful adaptation might be.
Domestic Adaptability
5
Most government structures are essentially driven by domestic imperatives and are largely insensitive to international and supranational developments. The key government structures of Australia have not changed since the federation of the colonies. Indeed, only a few international events have been persuaded Australian governments in recent times to adapt domestic structures. The major exception is in relation to the treaties and conventions to which Australia is a signatory, particularly in the areas of human rights, anti-discrimination and transnational crime, where Australia has been a regional leader. Australian society has been reluctant to support a change in political structures and has resisted doing so when asked in referendums, for example with regard to proposed constitutional changes.

Australian society has demonstrated a willingness to ignore international pressure, such as international criticism of its migration policy or high levels of carbon emissions.

On 18 July 2017 the prime minister announced that the government would establish a Home Affairs portfolio that will bring together Australia’s immigration, border protection, law enforcement and domestic security agencies within a single portfolio. This appears to have been primarily driven by a desire to better address international and domestic terrorism threats. However, most commentators do not view this as a positive development for strategic planning or implementation of policy.

Citations:
https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1718/Quick_Guides/HomeAffairs

http://www.aec.gov.au/elections/referendums/Referendum_Dates_and_Results.htm

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/immigration/un-human-rights-review-slams-australias-asylum-seeker-policies/news-story/29a4c5e8b0ecf94a327f7fe822dfec07?nk=7466221ea84d656a7525406f82e23bf2-1481452755

To what extent is the government able to collaborate effectively in international efforts to foster global public goods?

10
 9

The government can take a leading role in shaping and implementing collective efforts to provide global public goods. It is able to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress.
 8
 7
 6


The government is largely able to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. Existing processes enabling the government to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress are, for the most part, effective.
 5
 4
 3


The government is partially able to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. Processes designed to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress show deficiencies.
 2
 1

The government does not have sufficient institutional capacities to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. It does not have effective processes to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress.
International Coordination
7
Australia’s comparatively small population and economy, isolated geographic location and status as a South Pacific regional power has tended to work against the country’s ability to influence global reform efforts. Nonetheless, there is a governmental culture of seeking to participate in international forums or organizations, including those focused on reform. Primary emphasis tends to be on the Asia-Pacific region, although Australia is also a strong advocate of reducing trade barriers for agricultural products worldwide.

Australia’s international reputation has suffered considerably in the last two decades. Previously, Australia had been a very active player in international forums, for instance in the Uruguay Round of the GATT. Both the Howard and the Abbott governments failed to provide constructive inputs within the context of international forums. For example, the Abbott government permitted the G-20 summit in November 2014 to become an anti-Putin event. By contrast, Labor governments, Kevin Rudd’s in particular, have been overly ambitious. Rudd’s plans for an Asia-Pacific Community were hastily developed and criticized by his own government’s adviser. Prime Minister Turnbull has steered a much more cooperative course over his term in office. However, Australia has not been providing significant input to policy development to promote global public goods.

Citations:
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/13/tony-abbott-says-he-will-shirtfront-vladimir-putin-over-downing-of-mh17

http://www.smh.com.au/national/rudds-man-criticized-hasty-asiapacific-community-plan-20101223-196ln.html

Organizational Reform

#14

To what extent do actors within the government monitor whether institutional arrangements of governing are appropriate?

10
 9

The institutional arrangements of governing are monitored regularly and effectively.
 8
 7
 6


The institutional arrangements of governing are monitored regularly.
 5
 4
 3


The institutional arrangements of governing are selectively and sporadically monitored.
 2
 1

There is no monitoring.
Self-monitoring
6
There is little in the way of formal processes to indicate that institutional arrangements are monitored regularly, but such monitoring does occur occasionally. Institutional arrangements do periodically change, often manifesting as rearrangements and renaming of departments. Ad hoc reviews are also conducted, such as the 2004 Review of the Corporate Governance of Statutory Authorities and Office Holders. In some key areas such as migration, Australian authorities carefully monitor the impact of policies, and rapidly change policy directions if appropriate.

To what extent does the government improve its strategic capacity by changing the institutional arrangements of governing?

10
 9

The government improves its strategic capacity considerably by changing its institutional arrangements.
 8
 7
 6


The government improves its strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
 5
 4
 3


The government does not improve its strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
 2
 1

The government loses strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
Institutional Reform
7
Australia largely accepts and implements recommendations from formal government reviews. Investigations have covered all aspects of government including, finance, taxation, social welfare, defense, security and the environment. There have been frequent structural changes to the main Commonwealth government departments, sometimes in response to changing demands and responsibilities, but sometimes simply for political reasons that serve no strategic purpose and may indeed be strategically detrimental. For example, the main department that is responsible for health care has changed its name at least five times in the past two decades in response to changes in its responsibilities. Of course, the change of names alone might not be sufficient. For instance, there has also been a long debate on the need to improve the country’s infrastructure, but implementation in this area has been rather disappointing.
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