Strengthening COAG an important part of improving national governance

Thursday, 11 October 2018

The Australian Institute of Company Directors today welcomed a call to revitalise the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) as a key part of our national governance.

A proposal to establish a new independent COAG Economic Reform Council, with a secretariat including secondments from state governments, will today be flagged by Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen at a speech in Melbourne.

The AICD has consistently called for reform to Australia’s structures of national governance through the Blueprint for Growth national reform policy.

Specifically, the Blueprint for Growth has called for a reinvigorated COAG with a 15 year economic reform program, supported by a well-resourced and independent permanent secretariat. Such reforms would increase transparency and accountability, and enable long-term policy making in the national interest.

AICD Managing Director & CEO Angus Armour said that Australia’s robust democratic system is one of our great strengths, but it should not be taken for granted.

“Successive studies show that Australians are losing faith in government and other institutions. This loss in confidence is driven in part by the lack of cooperation between state, territory and federal governments in considering and developing long-term policy,” he said.

“COAG, which should be a pillar of our Federation, has deteriorated into a forum with a short-term focus driven by issues of the day and the immediate concerns of the Commonwealth.

“In our most recent Director Sentiment Index directors nominated infrastructure, energy policy and tax reform as the top issues the Federal Government needs to address. These issues cannot be resolved without an effective and robust COAG.

“The proposal for an independent COAG Council, which is empowered to focus on long-term reform and provide transparency around data and decision making, is consistent with revitalising COAG in the interests of all Australians.

“Long-term policy-making is crucial to Australia’s productivity and prosperity, and it will require governments at all levels and of different leanings to put the national interest first.”

The AICD would also encourage all sides of politics to consider further reforms to enhance our national governance, including a comprehensive review our Federation and the introduction of fixed, four-year federal parliamentary terms.

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