Saturday, August 11, 2007

Stationery porn

That's an "e" not an "a" BTW.

Commonwealth/State politics involves a fair bit of set-piece drama. The Commonwealth's principal tactic is straight out brinkmanship whereas the States employ a little more tactical variation (though nevertheless still trot out "states rights" which is a polite way of saying "see you in court"). It'll be interesting to see how the current standoff over control of the Murray-Darling basin resolves itself.

Coming from Aotearoa, a unicameral and unitary state, I'm ambivalent about federal systems. One the one hand, they provide for, potentially, more direct and responsive government - particularly if you live in Perth or Darwin. On the other hand, there's duplication, inefficiency and inevitable conflict.

Some work I'm doing falls neatly into the "new federalism" debate - the catch-all phrase to describe the current jostle between the federal Liberal/National Coalition and the Labor-States - and means regular appearances at national sub-sub-Committees of the Council of Australian Governments.

Two things strike me about these committees. First, the level of professionalism is particularly high despite the rancor and tension of Australian politics generally and election time specifically. Secondly, the no-expenses spared cornucopia of stationery. My carefully and lovingly developed folder was stationery nirvana - imagine Bill Gates kids' allowance for their school's stationery day - I had three different colours of paper, two different types of divider and three different types of little sticky labels - plastic not paper - each of which had had printed on them the title of the paper to which they referred. It was a thing of beauty that took two people two days to compile for each of the half dozen officials attending the meeting.

2 comments:

Nik said...

I'm with you on the stupidity and wastefulness of federal systems. I've never understood why Political Science students and lecturers get so orgasmic about federal structures and the associated separation of powers. It may well 'protect the citizenry against tyranny' (although I find that premise pretty unlikely - it didn't hold in Argentina), but it also means that all policy decisions are watered down or corrupted by horsetrading and pork-barrelling

ThePurpleSeal said...

Hi there,

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