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Select Committee on the Reform of the Australian Federation
Reform of the Australian Federation

UHR, Professor John, Private capacity


CHAIR: Thank you very much, Professor Uhr, for attending the hearing today. We very much appreciate it. We received a letter from you dated 28 April. We are just debating as to whether or not we should regard it as a submission to the committee or whether or not we might regard it as additional information. Perhaps the latter would be an easier category. Are you content for us to regard it as additional information to the committee?

Prof. Uhr : Make whatever decision you think is appropriate.

CHAIR: If you would care to make an opening statement, we would be happy to hear it. Then we will ask you some questions. If not, we can move straight to questions.

Prof. Uhr : Just as background to the three propositions I put in the letter let me just observe one or two things. One is that federalism as a concept is just so hard for any of us to get our heads around. It is really very difficult. It is difficult to understand because it is about dispersing power, and most of us are much more attracted to concepts and institutions that bring power together. We can understand them better. I would not be surprised if you are finding this difficult, because all of us have difficulty with the core concept that lies behind the institutions of Australian federalism.

Practices of federalism vary enormously. The concept is difficult and then the practices vary enormously. There is no one model of how to do federalism, and the Australian model is similar in some ways to other countries and different in many ways. Australia is unique because of the institution that you represent—the Australian Senate. There is nothing like it at all anywhere, so that stamps a unique character on Australian federalism. There are lots of other parts that Brian Galligan has just been identifying that show that we overlap in some ways and have shared tendencies with other federations, but we play the game differently.

As a result, most people really do not understand it. Most Australians do not understand federalism. It is too hard. Most of my university students are deeply ignorant about it because people like me do not teach it. The Australian academic community is kind of shy about federalism because it is so complicated to unpack and explain. Many of my academic colleagues are suspicious of federalism because it seems to be antidemocratic in some ways; it is sharing things around. They would prefer a majoritarian model of concentrated power with strong leadership where you know who is in charge and who is responsible if things go wrong.

Given all those things, you have a wonderful opportunity to help contribute to better public understanding if you can gather together some mechanism or process to identify some champion. Once you finish your work and go back to the many other things that you have to do and this committee is dissolved, if you can leave behind something that can act as a lighthouse or a beacon for better public understanding of federalism in general and the state of the Australian Federation I will be your champion. I put those three propositions in a letter to try to identify some of the things that I think you could recommend that could remain in place once you have gone on to do other work.

CHAIR: Thank you very much. On this theme that you have been elaborating upon, I suppose, I am seeking an explanation because you are the former head of the ANU's Federalism Research Centre, which is one of the few federal research centres we have had anywhere—I think I am right in saying that—in any academic institution. I am interested to know why that no longer exists. What happened to the funding et cetera?

Prof. Uhr : You will have to call back the former witness, Professor Galligan.

CHAIR: I should have asked him that.

Prof. Uhr : He was the penultimate head. I was the undertaker who came in at the end.

Senator BACK: What did you do wrong, the two of you?

Prof. Uhr : Brian was there when the decisions were made and it was my melancholy duty—

CHAIR: We hold you both culpable, do we?

Prof. Uhr : No. It was a decision by both the Commonwealth and the state that after 23 years enough was enough. These were committed public funds that had served a very important public purpose. The states had matured remarkably. The states had got closer and closer to the Federalism Research Centre, which was initially funded just by the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth was getting a bit shy about that. The Commonwealth was the pacesetter that put the money in initially to provide a scorecard as to what was happening. I think that at the end of 23 years it had probably served as much public usefulness as it was likely to serve at that point and there was an expectation—unfulfilled, I suppose—that the states would establish a state specific centre, not necessarily in Canberra but somewhere, that could act as a gatekeeper for the states, a bottom-up version of the Federalism Research Centre.

CHAIR: Is it your view that there is a need for something similar, if not an institution with precisely the same mandate then at least an institution which looks at this? I know you have made a point in relation to the Senate's role here, and I will get to that in a moment. I am thinking about an institution which has responsibility for the academic study of federalism, and that seems not to exist in the country at the moment.

Prof. Uhr : Yes, it seems not to exist. The political science community is pretty small. They are the ones who acted as the custodians of it in the past—political scientists and economists. There is no one centre now. That would not necessarily be a bad thing if there were a range of centres and people could pick and choose. That has not happened. Why that has not happened I am not sure. It is a hard ask, because you are inviting governments to put money into public institutions and ask them to call it as they see it. Governments are cautious about that. They might look to universities to help refine and deliver policy or to help with program implementation, but to ask universities to stand back and blow a whistle from time to time when they think something called federalism is not being played according to the spirit of the game? I can understand why they might be cautious.

CHAIR: I think we all understand that too, as members of the federal parliament. But I suppose there are ways in which you could do it through centres of excellence and things of that kind. One of the options open to the committee clearly is to make a recommendation which involves providing funds for the creation of a centre which we believe would be of continuing value to the Federation. I am interested to know whether or not you can see some value in that.

Prof. Uhr : Sure. You can see how that practice works with medical research and the Australian Research Council. They have a designated charter of priorities. That charter changes from time to time. It reflects the advice they give to government and the advice they receive from government. So it is not impossible for body like the Australian Research Council to take note of the importance of federalism over the next three to 10 years or something like that and just see what happens. As it happens, I know that there are academics who have put in proposals on federalism and been successful, so it is not as though it is not featuring now. But it could easily be slotted in as a kind of national theme. If it does not work out, they can unslot it. It happens, as I say, with medical research as well as the Australian Research Council. Once you make a recommendation that they give consideration to that, you are also asking government to supplement the funds of that organisation. That is more than welcome.

CHAIR: I do not think we have had an academic before us who has not made that point. But your suggestion or your proposition in relation to the Senate is of a different character, as I understand it. It is not so much to undertake academic research; it is to focus the parliament's attention on the continuing issues of federalism. Is that a fair summary?

Prof. Uhr : To focus parliament's attention but more particularly the public's attention. It would be to provide a mechanism by which public attention is drawn to federalism by having a dedicated Senate committee from time to time take an audit of what is happening in Australian federalism, hold a watching brief on COAG and then engage in this regional Asia-Pacific dialogue with similar bodies that are looking at similar variations of federalism, which are just wonderfully constructive in ways that we can contribute to but also learn from. Public understanding is the test that I would provide for the success of any of these mechanisms.

CHAIR: Are there examples of that kind of structure in other federations of which you are aware?

Prof. Uhr : Not really. In the Australian Federation, Brian will know more. The Victorian parliament established a committee on Federation back in the nineties which is no longer in existence. The Western Australian parliament at one stage, I think around the same time, had a committee looking at uniform national legislation and the effects that was having on the state of the Federation. These things come and go. There is nothing that I know of at the moment. In Canada there are policy specific inquiries rather than a generic capacity to keep a check on what is happening in developments in federalism.

CHAIR: The challenge, I suppose, is to work out a mandate for that kind of committee and determine precisely what its responsibility should be. You mentioned COAG, for example. I can see the point about the committee having what would be perhaps—please correct me if I am misunderstanding your point—a parliamentary oversight of COAG's general activities. Is that part of the intention?

Prof. Uhr : That is correct.

CHAIR: The question is: how wide do you draw the mandate for a committee of this kind?

Prof. Uhr : I think COAG is exactly the place to begin because you are looking at the holders of executive power across the country that are exercising that power in the name of the Federation through COAG. No one parliament is really in a position to monitor the institution of COAG as a whole. I do not think any other parliament is trying to do it in relation to their own team of ministers.

The Senate, by definition, is a federal body. We really should see it as part of the institutional logic of having a Senate that it does something specifically in the name of the Federation. If it is a committee that only has one inquiry per year and that one inquiry is a status report on what is happening in COAG, that would be wonderful. I do not think it needs to be, like many other Senate committees, overburdened with inquiries and references all of the time. It is something that is there keeping an eye on COAG. It would certainly provide an opportunity for state officials in particular to air some issues they think people in Canberra might not fully understand, and that would be wonderful. You will have a chance to explore that this afternoon.

CHAIR: You will be aware of the issue that some parliamentary committees have the capacity to undertake inquiries of their own volition and others are required to take references as a result of government intervention of one kind or another. Do you have a view as to how this committee should operate in that respect?

Prof. Uhr : A brief standing order that allowed the committee to keep an eye on and report periodically on COAG would probably be sufficient. If it then wanted to take references from the Senate on broader issues affecting federalism or other policy aspects, that is a door that should be left open. But I think the initial brief should be one of oversight and accountability for the most remarkable experiment we have had in shared executive power, which is COAG.

CHAIR: But it should have a measure of autonomy. Is that right? It should be able to decide for itself what its brief is and what its agenda should be.

Prof. Uhr : And decide how it looks at COAG. The standing order should allow it, on the basis of its understanding of developments in COAG, to report back to the Senate that it is now opening up an inquiry into some aspect that comes out of its annual report or annual inquiry.

CHAIR: I will go to my colleagues and then I will come back to you later.

Senator MOORE: A number of other people have suggested that we have some kind of independent body looking at the Constitution as opposed to Federation. I think you are the only witness who has talked about having some kind of standing group to look at the whole issue of Federation. A number of academics have said they wanted some form of organisation looking at the Constitution. The two things would not be mutually exclusive, I would think, if there was an organisation that was looking at the role of the Constitution. We asked a couple of them and they said the major point would be to keep it on the agenda. People do not know about the Constitution and they do not understand it. If something around the Constitution was developed it could also have a link with federalism, I would have thought.

Prof. Uhr : Sure. They are not exclusive at all; they overlap. What I was looking to was the national parliament, which has a federal house, taking some small step forward to have a permanent contribution to public understanding of the way we do federalism. The executive governments have stolen a march in the practice of federalism. It is undoubtedly a good thing that they are working together. That is just the tip of an iceberg. You know there are many, many examples of ministerial councils that are operating independently of COAG on heaps of important policy issues. Some Senate committees get involved in monitoring and investigating them. The Finance and Public Administration Committee used to try to report annually on the existence of all those committees. That was difficult enough. So my suggestion is really just for the Senate to carve out a little bit of that space. There are plenty of other opportunities for other expert public bodies to do wonderful contributions to public understanding of other aspects of Australian constitutional practice.

Senator MOORE: I am interested with your recommendation linking to the Asia-Pacific region. What is the background to that?

Prof. Uhr : Teaching and teaching students who are experimenting with versions of decentralisation and devolution in different countries: Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and China, in particular. They are all very interested in Australian federalism. They all want to know how we do it. We are a huge country with a small population and somehow we seemed to have managed the regionalism game, at least at the political level. They are intensely curious. They are saddled themselves with interesting experiments that we can partly contribute to but learn from as well. Lots of international donor organisations keep travelling around the world insisting that federalism is a kind of precondition of a responsible, modern democracy. A lot of these countries are just being forced to devolve responsibility down and they want to know, then, how you work the relationships between the region and the centre. Here we have a huge regional example of it that they are curious about, and they have lots of other field experience that we need to know more about. It is a wonderful opportunity, if I were a senator, to meet with like elected officials in the region and to see what roles they are playing in the devolution, decentralisation processes in their own countries.

Senator MOORE: Thank you.

Senator BACK: I think you have given us three very interesting propositions. I concur with Senator Moore in terms of your first, and that is that, if the committee was minded to make such a recommendation, we should somehow include the reference to the Constitution as well as the federation. It is a very courageous group of senators who might take this to the executive of the day.

With regard to COAG—and I do not want to sound party political here and I attempt not to—but it is of interest to me that had, for example, the Carpenter government continued in Western Australia, we may well have had a situation in which there would have been agreement for a third of GST revenues to be taken back in terms of health. It is not quite in line with the paper you have given to us, but do you see whether that in itself is a risk; and, secondly, in the event that it was and was undesirable, how we could structure COAG differently so that decisions of that type in fact might not be able to be made at a COAG level?

Prof. Uhr : I have two comments, Senator. One, I share the views of the previous witness, Professor Galligan, that just took me totally by surprise. A was outraged that the Prime Minister at the time was able to exercise the kind of moral power and persuasion that he did such that it was really unchallenged— it just seen to be another bit of the political game that is played. That seemed to be really cutting right into the whole small c Constitution of the GST. So anything that can minimise that kind of temptation for a federally based, Canberra based executive government to play those sorts of games should be encouraged.

How could this committee or those of us thinking about the results of this committee help? An annual or periodic appraisal of COAG would at least provide an opportunity not to change the way COAG does its business but for people who have views about how COAG could change its business to come forward and have an official standing somehow close to the centre of government for their views to be heard. At the moment it is really just people reaching for a keyboard and hoping one of the newspapers will take it up—or reaching for a telephone and hoping that a radio will take it up. Having a committee like this able to call into being a body of people with an interest in monitoring COAG I think would be wonderful, because it means then that the committee does not have to do the work of becoming experts on how to improve COAG; you just become the medium by which those views are brought closer to government. That is an indirect way of doing it, I accept that.

Senator BACK: I notice that you gave as an example the Audit Office having some involvement in highlighting which levels of government are accountable for what levels of performance in policy implementation and then presumably in some way commenting on their effectiveness in delivering on those policies.

Prof. Uhr : I heard the exchanges earlier this afternoon.

Senator BACK: That is certainly something that you hear from interested people within the community. I was going to ask you to comment, if you would, on Professor Galligan's reference to cooperative as opposed to competitive federalism. I was most interested in what he had to say there and I think it was very sensible in terms of what is possible and what is idealistic and unlikely. Could you give us the benefit of your thoughts on what role this committee might have? Would its role only be to comment, measure and audit? Or do you think its role might also extend to determining or advising which is the most appropriate level of government to be offering some of these different policy implementations?

Prof. Uhr : I started working in Canberra in the 80s, which is a long time ago. I was working with the Joint Committee on Public Accounts and Audit, which was one of my first jobs in Canberra. One of the first things I learnt was the limitations of the Audit Office, as it then was, and how strenuously the Audit Office was trying to work in partnerships with the state bodies because public money was just so hard to trace. The performance and accountability issues associated with managing the stewards of public money were just so diffuse. I am happy for the committee to exercise anything that it can to encourage Commonwealth and state audit bodies to hang in there and work together.

The suggestion in the letter that I have given you only mentions the Commonwealth audit body because you are looking primarily at Commonwealth funds or Commonwealth sourced funds. I do not know where they are at now with the protocols on partnerships with state bodies but it would require both ends to have the confidence to be able to join things up in such a way that federalism gets a better picture and the accountability is more properly washed through the system. How could a committee like this do that? By giving some courage to the Commonwealth audit office and the state audit offices, in the name of federalism, to work together—that is what I would hope for. I have a minimalist model in mind at the moment which would be for you to recommend a really modest step forward that would allow people to gather around and identify things that need to be done.

The mechanisms that could carry out the improvement probably begin with the Commonwealth audit office—and they will be the first people to tell you that there are limits to their resources and capacity—but they require at some stage a kind of federal audit function to be devised where the Commonwealth and state audit bodies work closely together. It is probably the last thing that COAG would want a witness to be telling you.

Senator BACK: In reality, a lot of this information is probably out there now. Should this body come into existence, part of its role would be to just collate it under one umbrella of information so that it would then be fulfilling the role you speak of—that is, informing the community because at the moment the community may not know where to go to seek—

Prof. Uhr : Most of us do not know where to go. The ancillary function that operation would perform is that it would then provide an invitation through the committee for people managing those funds to come forward and explain either their success or relative failure. That is the missing ingredient at the moment. Establishing where funds are is hazardous enough; establishing why they are not in the right hands at the right time is really the important policy issue that needs to be brought before a committee or members of parliament.

Senator BACK: In a sense I think the point you make, which will not be lost on this committee, is that the Senate is probably the only appropriate body that could actually undertake this role. COAG is not going to report on it.

Prof. Uhr : We have had the centenary of Federation so we have a long track record to look at. There is nothing else yet at the Commonwealth level. There is nothing at the state level, and we have six of them. The two territories would be keen to innovate but they have not done anything yet. So, yes, the ball is before the Senate and maybe before this particular committee at the moment.

Senator MOORE: We also need state support. Certainly, the model of COAG is 'equal partners working together'—which we know falls over from time to time. The Senate is still a federal or national body, so to have the absolute engagement of the states in such a body would be a leap of faith for them as well.

Prof. Uhr : Yes, I guess they would be taking it on trust in the first instance, which is why I can imagine that any committee that was established to monitor COAG would in the first instance have an information-sharing role in order to—

Senator MOORE: Establish trust.

Prof. Uhr : build trust, yes.

CHAIR: I have a couple of questions which go somewhat beyond your submission. One relates to COAG, and we have certainly heard plenty of evidence that there is a view that the institution of COAG needs to be more institutionalised—that it needs to be put on a stronger foundation, that the role of the states needs to be clearer, including their capacity to set agendas in relation to COAG, and that there needs to be a clearer process of reporting. There are a whole series of things that people have suggested to us. Does any of that find favour with you, to your way of thinking? Because all of that is not inconsistent with the proposal you are putting here; it is just another dimension of COAG activities.

Prof. Uhr : That is a very good point, and I heard your discussions with Professor Galligan. I can imagine two ways in which COAG could be institutionalised. One is an inside-out operation where the people in Prime Minister and Cabinet now, who have the primary federal responsibility, redesignate themselves in some ways so that there is a clearly identified core within Canberra managing the process and they have a close public relationship with each of the participating states, and somehow we can all see they are part of a shared organisation of some sort. But I am not waiting for that to happen. There is some advantage in it not happening, because I think it is a very flexible instrument. Its success is that it has been able, particularly since 9-11, to work really quickly to establish shared protocols and shared partnerships. September 11 really changed COAG dramatically. It changed Australian federalism by giving a common focus on security, and shared intelligence and shared information in a way that was resisted before 9-11. So it was a dramatic turning point. Any institutionalisation that slowed down COAG's ability to quickly respond to a world that is changing so dramatically would be bad thing, so I would not want to lay that on COAG.

However, there is an outside-in form of institutionalisation which this committee or the committee proposed by this committee could contribute to, which is just to identify the people involved—identifying the officers as though they are part of a shared agency or a shared process; they come together. Their names might well change, but their roles do not. If this Senate committee could start to monitor the functions, the roles, that are being performed and identify the relationships between Commonwealth and state officials, that, I think, is the sort of institutionalisation that I would like to see encouraged—that kind of virtual relationship or institution.

CHAIR: My COAG question was on the theme of your remarks, but my second question is not. I wanted to ask you about your views, if you have any that you want to share with us, about the constitutional recognition of local government, which is of course a specific term of reference for the committee and something about which we have heard a great deal.

Prof. Uhr : I guess I am in a similar position to Professor Galligan: happy enough to see it literally written into the Constitution; cautious about seeing local government sit alongside the states as though they were equal partners negotiating and cutting deals with the Commonwealth. The federal spirit seems to be that we have a compact between the states and territories and Canberra. The arrangement with local government is that it is represented by the bodies that are taking their story to Canberra. I am just cautious about seeing anything in the Constitution that suddenly complicates the arrangements at the Canberra end so that there are many, many more institutions turning up to have deals cut.

CHAIR: Yes. Yet there does seem to be some dysfunction here in relation to the distribution of revenues. I think that the Local Government Association, whether or not we find favour with its argument for constitutional recognition, nevertheless makes a fairly compelling case that more and more is being asked of local government and they are not necessarily receiving the revenue that they need to undertake those responsibilities, so cost-shifting is taking place at very significant level. So there does seem to be an issue here which needs some kind of attention. Recognition in the Constitution of itself is not necessarily going to provide that solution, except in so far as it might provide the Commonwealth with the ability, unfettered by the problems that the Constitution now presents—a la Pape, for example—to provide that funding.

Prof. Uhr : One of the issues is to try to identify what the problem is in the eyes of the champions of local government. What is the problem? The way it is often presented is that their status and credibility is invisible and they want that to be redeemed in some way by having the Constitution recognise them. I suspect the real problem is the state governments and the issue of recognition means that somehow they can bypass the state governments or have the Constitution allow them greater leverage with the stage governments. I think the problem is really the relationship in each state between state and local governments. The Commonwealth has been a kind of saviour in the past; not a problem but a saviour. It is a probably a complication to state governments that the Commonwealth is there providing lifelines of resources to the local governments. From the local government point of view I imagine the problem is not Canberra or the Constitution; the problem is the state governments. Anything we can do to bring vitality back to the relationship between local and state governments is where the solution lies; the Constitution on its own is not going to provide that answer.

CHAIR: A solution to that problem, insofar as it concerns the Commonwealth, would be to make a special purpose grants, or section 96 grants, to the states specifically for local government. That clearly is a constitutional act which is not subject to question. It would address the problem to some extent.

Senator MOORE: It does not recognise local government in the Constitution.

CHAIR: No, it does not do that. If this is a revenue problem specific to the relationship between local governments and state governments then it might address the problem.

Prof. Uhr : It is not just a revenue problem. Think of the way local governments come and go at the whim of state governments—that is the problem. If you are operating a local government the whole regime can disappear overnight according to schemes by state governments. The issue of constitutional recognition is designed to act as a kind of surrogate for some sort of protection against that kind of power of whimsy in Macquarie Street and other streets.

CHAIR: Part of the solution that has been suggested to us is that it will recognise local government in state constitutions but they are essentially acts of the state parliament and they can be easily changed. That is not a solution, I gather.

Prof. Uhr : Yes.

Senator MOORE: I am really interested in your comment about the flexibility and the change that happened to COAG as a result of 9-11. We did see them move quickly on issues of security, particularly around airports and travel, which was long overdue in terms of the national focus on aviation and so on. However, I am interested to know whether you believe that that kind of focus followed through into other aspects of COAG operations. I am interested because I have not heard that put forward before. We all saw what they did in security but your link with that to a change in the way they operated in other ways I have not heard actually put forward before and I would like to get a little bit more on that.

Prof. Uhr : Two aspects stand out for me. One is that 9-11 and the counterterrorism strategies that were then devised by Commonwealth and state officials acted as a kind of spur and a model for other forms of cooperation in other areas, so that the models of adept partnerships that rose out of 9-11 were then broadcast across the policy stream into other areas. People then said, 'Well if we can do it in border protection and airports and the other facilities, surely we can do it in other areas of public policy'. It became a kind of pace setter.

The second one was that individuals move around. This is a very small federation compared to some others and there are a small number of officials who keep travelling around state and Commonwealth governments to manage things. Sometimes they are managing national security, sometimes they are managing health and sometimes they are managing other forms of infrastructure, but they are all sharing how to manage things. And 9/11 became the laboratory for how to manage better. People who were in Canberra at some point then moved to the states and then to other states and national security became the biggest kind of employer of new talent. That then had a wash on effect in other areas of intergovernmental management.

Senator MOORE: You have actually seen this at work. I totally accept the dynamic around the antiterrorism stuff, but I am understand trying to see where in another field you have actually seen that same focus lead on or whether it is just an assessment of watching the way they work.

Prof. Uhr : Think of small things—traffic management. Just think of people in uniform. Sometimes they are Army; sometimes they are police. They are managing traffic. They do it for different reasons. September 11 means we have a particular pressing reason—international insecurity—and then that flows into domestic management of how the public roads are kept in an orderly way in times of 'normalicy'. That is a small example. There is hospital management. We have to have hospitals prepared and ready for a crisis. That is going to have an effect on better management of hospitals full stop, because it forces us to think about what the real priorities are—best use of hospital facilities.

Senator MOORE: And then it flowed on to the Bali stuff and the emergency support in the hospitals.

Prof. Uhr : Sure, lots. Immigration, of course, would be a standout case.

Senator MOORE: Massive. Thank you.

CHAIR: If I may, I have one more question, which I asked Professor Galligan. There is this central problem about states themselves not having enough revenue. I am attracted to the proposition that you should spend only the money that you raise; it seems to me that that is a discipline which ought to recommend itself to government as a proposition. Do you see any means by which the challenge of providing revenue to states to undertake their purposes can be solved other than through some kind of change to the way in which we manage income tax in the country?

Prof. Uhr : Internationally, that is the standout example of allowing subnational systems access to revenue that they can then use on purposes that they determine on their own. We have our own local history that helps explain why our Federation is different: it is really the Second World War and the taxation cases. Every federalism is going to have a different path of development. Somehow that stamped us with a 'trust Canberra' path, which we are still living with. Even the GST is a 'trust Canberra' path. I am really not sure how you would supplement that path in this particular Federation, Australia, in such a way that both the Commonwealth and the states would be comfortable with own-source revenue from the states of a substantial kind. I do not know whether the states have their heart in the income tax option; I suspect not. Even if the Commonwealth wanted it, I suspect the states would still think, 'Better to have the haggles that we now have,' partly because of COAG. It means that they have a regular opportunity to eyeball and get very close to the people who are making the recommendations on what money they get and how they should spend it. It is a very cosy arrangement. There is not a lot of discomfort attached to it. There are headaches, but there is not a lot of discomfort. As I say, just because other federations have a greater reliance on self-sourced income from subnational levels, it is not going to provide a model for us; it is just something else to observe from. As we travel within the Asia-Pacific, we might discover more ingenious ways in which subnational governments can have access to revenue that we are unaware of at the moment because we just fly over them rather than spend time in them.

CHAIR: I cannot imagine that any source of revenue has escaped the attention of any level of government.

Prof. Uhr : There you are, so we have an incentive to go study.

CHAIR: But there may well be such a source. Thank you, Professor Uhr, for coming before the committee.

Prof. Uhr : Thank you to the committee.

Proceedings suspended from 15:18 to 15:34