Council of Australian Governments

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"COAG" redirects here. For other uses, see COAG (disambiguation).

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) is an organisation consisting of the federal government, the governments of the six states and two mainland territories and the Australian Local Government Association.

History[edit]

COAG was established in May 1992 after agreement by the then Prime Minister (Paul Keating), Premiers and Chief Ministers, and it first met in December 1992. It is chaired by the Prime Minister. It meets to debate and co-ordinate government activities between the federal and state or territorial governments and between the state and territorial governments themselves as well as issues affecting local government.

COAG grew out of the Premiers' Conferences, which had been held for many decades. These were limited to the Premiers of the six states and the Prime Minister.

A related organisation is the Loan Council, which coordinates borrowing by the federal and state and territorial governments of Australia.

COAG differs from the U.S.'s National Governors Association or Canada's Council of the Federation, because these bodies only include state/provincial representatives, whereas COAG includes federal and local representatives as well.

Current membership[edit]

Name Office held In office since Party
Tony Abbott MP Prime Minister of Australia 18 September 2013   Liberal
Mike Baird MP Premier of New South Wales 17 April 2014   Liberal
Denis Napthine MLA Premier of Victoria 6 March 2013   Liberal
Campbell Newman MP Premier of Queensland 26 March 2012   Liberal National
Colin Barnett MLA Premier of Western Australia 23 September 2008   Liberal
Jay Weatherill MHA Premier of South Australia 21 October 2011   Labor
Will Hodgman MHA Premier of Tasmania 31 March 2014   Liberal
Katy Gallagher MLA Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory 16 May 2011   Labor
Adam Giles MLA Chief Minister of the Northern Territory 14 March 2013   Country Liberal
Cr. Felicity-Ann Lewis President of the Australian Local Government Association[1] September 2012   n/a

COAG and state finances[edit]

Australia is believed to be the first federation to have introduced a formal system of horizontal fiscal equalisation (HFE) which was introduced in 1933 to compensate States which have a lower capacity to raise revenue. Many federations use fiscal equalisation to reduce the inequalities in the fiscal capacities of sub-national governments arising from the differences in their geography, demography, natural endowments and economies. However the level of equalisation sought varies. In Australia, the objective is full equalisation.

Full equalisation means that, after HFE, each of the six States, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory (the States) would have the capacity to provide services and the associated infrastructure at the same standard, if each State made the same effort to raise revenue from its own sources and operated at the same level of efficiency.

Currently the funds distributed to achieve HFE are the revenues raised from the Goods and Services Tax (GST), currently about AUD50bn a year. The distribution of GST required to achieve HFE is decided by the Federal Treasurer each year, on the basis of advice provided by the Commonwealth Grants Commission (CGC).

Achieving HFE does not mean that the States are directed how to raise revenue or how to spend their funds. GST revenue grants from the Commonwealth are untied and available for any purpose. Accordingly, HFE equalises fiscal capacity, not fiscal policies which remain for the States to decide for themselves. It does not result in the same level of services or taxes in all States, direct that the States must achieve any specified level of service in any area, nor impose actual budget outcomes in accordance with the Commission's calculations.[2]

Committee and Forum Structure[edit]

In 2011, COAG streamlined their council system into Standing Councils (to address items of national significance), Select Councils (which are focused on specific reforms and time-limited) and legislative and governance forums (overseeing responsibilities set out in legislation, intergovernmental agreements and treaties outside the scope of Standing Councils).[3]

Standing Councils[edit]

  • Community and Disability Services
  • Disability Reform
  • Energy and Resources
  • Environment and Water
  • Federal Financial Relations
  • Health
  • Law and Justice
  • Police and Emergency Management
  • Primary Industries
  • Regional Australia
  • School Education and Early Childhood
  • Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment
  • Transport and Infrastructure

Select Councils[edit]

  • Climate Change
  • Gambling Reform
  • Housing and Homelessness
  • Immigration and Settlement (email)
  • Women’s Issues
  • Workplace Relations

The Select Council on Disability Reform expired on 31 December 2012 due to the passage of National Disability Insurance legislation.

Reports[edit]

On 30 August 2012, COAG released its Housing Supply and Affordability Reform report, proposing reforms to increase housing affordability in Australia.

Criticism[edit]

In 2012 a group of 20 environmental organisations release a joint communiqué denouncing the establishment of the COAG Business Advisory Forum and wanted wider representation on the Forum. The groups also opposed the weakening of environmental regulations.[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Australian Local Government Association (2012-09). "President: Australian Local Government Association". Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  2. ^ Commonwealth Grants Commission
  3. ^ COAG Councils http://www.coag.gov.au/coag_councils
  4. ^ "Australian Groups Protest Business 'Attack' on Environmental Laws". Canberra, Australia: Environment News Service. 5 June 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2012. 

External links[edit]