Council of Australian Governments
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.
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.
|Name||Office held||In office since||Party|
|Tony Abbott MP||Prime Minister of Australia||18 September 2013||Liberal|
|Barry O'Farrell MP||Premier of New South Wales||28 March 2011||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|
|Lara Giddings MHA||Premier of Tasmania||24 January 2011||Labor|
|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. Genia McCaffery||President of the Australian Local Government Association||11 November 2010||n/a|
COAG and state finances
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.
Committee and Forum Structure
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).
- Community and Disability Services
- Disability Reform
- Energy and Resources
- Environment and Water
- Federal Financial Relations
- Law and Justice
- Police and Emergency Management
- Primary Industries
- Regional Australia
- School Education and Early Childhood
- Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment
- Transport and Infrastructure
- 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.
On 30 August, 2012, COAG released its Housing Supply and Affordability Reform report, proposing reforms to increase housing affordability in Australia. The report omitted the fact that of the 20% of Australia (more than 1,500,000km2) owned by Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders, they are not allowed to own their own home.
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.
- Australian Local Government Association (2009-01-22). "President: Australian Local Government Association". Retrieved 2009-03-11.
- Commonwealth Grants Commission
- COAG Councils http://www.coag.gov.au/coag_councils
- Centre for Independent Studies, 'Private Housing on Indigenous Lands'
- "Australian Groups Protest Business 'Attack' on Environmental Laws". Canberra, Australia: Environment News Service. 5 June 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
|Wikinews has related news: Australian governments to meet for first COAG meeting of 2006 today|