Last Updated 07 Jul 2020

Federalism Paper Review

Category Federalism
Essay type Review
Words 538 (2 pages)
Views 269

Wanna, J 2007, ‘Improving Federalism: Drivers for Change, Repair Options and Reform Scenarios’, Australian Journal of Public Administration, vol. 66, no. 3, pp. 275 – 279. | Purpose The author aims to present an overview of the proceedings from a roundtable discussion on federalism. The paper aims to inform readers of the views of participants by reporting on discussion points on the subject of improving federalism, through consideration of issues and challenges and options for reform.

The author contrasts the different federalism characteristics discussed. Confused and competitive interactions occur between federal, state and local government with attendant impacts on service delivery. In particular much of the dysfunction in the current system stems from uncertainty around roles and an argumentative approach to dividing resources and defining responsibility. Federalism was in long term decline and a product of changing market forces from national and international pressure and global communication reducing regional identify.

Overlapping policy interaction and involvement of the tiers of government was presented as an impediment to effective delineation of roles. Federalism provided greater accountability through increased scrutiny by multiple government and review of achievements particularly in contentious areas. Participants agreed federalism would be improved by gradual change. The author discussed the idea change should focus on advancing the current situation rather than whole-scale reform through a new paradigm of strategic pragmatism. The group considered that fiscal issues drive a shift to centralism.

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Improving federalism requires better relations, through increased clarity of roles and responsibilities and levels of trust, possibly formalised through agreements and structural rationalisation. Evidence The paper presents findings as observations from discussions initially. The author introduces uncited references and discusses external and personal views. The discussion of participants views are not quantified specifically and references are made to ‘most’, ‘many thought’, ‘those who believed’. The origin of sources is unclear.

For example ‘some commentators’ is unclear as to whether these were participants or external views. Summarised statements appeared to be discussions of the participants merged with personal opinion. | Page 275, 276 and 277. Page 276Pages 275 - 277Page 276Page 278| Observations The author initially expresses an observational account of the proceedings of the meeting in a neutral manner. This approach gradually transitions into an academic piece that draws on the author’s extensive understanding of the field and his personal views together with unreferenced discussion of academic positions.

The paper is confusing at times and apparently aims to presents the outcomes and discussion points of a meeting initially but soon changes to uncited external examples, statements and personal opinion. Whilst the author references the panel’s deliberations and discussions, these are unquantified references to participant’s opinions and refer simply to ‘many’ or ‘most participants’. The author seems to have a bias toward a principled view of federalism with support for a fusion of pragmatic and principled approaches.

The paper appears contradictory in parts. For example, an observation was made that there was a widely held view that roles and responsibilities needed to be specified. It was later stated that the ‘jury was still out’ on whether this was a worthwhile goal, which appeared to be a personal view rather than reporting on discussions. In concluding the author draws on a range of options for specific reform that were not introduced earlier in the paper.

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Federalism Paper Review. (2017, May 21). Retrieved from

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