• Section A) The theory and practise of the federal states and multi-level systems of government
  • Section B) Global governance and international organizations
  • Section C) Regional integration processes
  • Section D) Federalism as a political idea
  • Twomey Anne
    Regionalism - a Cure for Federal Ills?
    in University of New South Wales Law Journal (The) , Volume 31, Issue 2 ,  2008 ,  467-492
    When complaints are made about the operation of federalism, the response is often given that the answer is 'regionalism'. The difficulty lies in designing a form of regionalism that actually satisfies these aims and desires. There is no consensus amongst the proponents of regionalism as to what are the regions, let alone how a system of regionalism could operate in practice in a manner that would meet these desires and improve upon the operation of the existing system of government. Much of the discussion of regionalism simply assumes that it will achieve outcomes such as efficiency and greater democracy, without pinpointing how this is actually to be done. The attractiveness of regionalism is therefore enhanced by its fuzziness and unhindered by practical detail which might render it a less attractive proposition. This article seeks to move beyond the warm fuzzy glow of regionalism to identify and analyse the various different forms of regionalism that have been proposed. It challenges some of the assumptions that underlie the proposition that regionalism is the cure for all federal ills. The article commences by addressing the question of what are Australia's regions and disputes the contention that Australia has an established set of regions that can simply assume devolved powers and responsibilities. It then moves on to consider the different forms of regionalism. First, it discusses the use of regions for service provision and community development, as currently occurs in Australia. Next, it considers the use of regions as a fourth level of government in Australia. It then moves to the most contentious argument, that States should regional governments. It considers the problems with two different versions of this proposal - a system of national and regional governments in which regional governments are creatures of Commonwealth legislation and one in which regional governments are established and given powers by the Constitution. The final proposal discussed is a three-tiered system of government, comprising national, regional and local governments. The most common form of this proposal is the establishment of new States, so that every State is effectively a region. The article considers the constitutional difficulties involved with this proposal and the establishment of new States. It concludes by noting the difficulty in assessing regionalism proposals and that the case for regionalism as an alternative to federalism or as a means of reforming it has not yet been made out.
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