Extract from interview with Professor Greg Craven, Provost and Dean of Law at the University of Notre Dame, Western Australia. He is a Victorian-born constitutional lawyer who has written on secession in Australia.
CF Can I just ask you now about changes to the Constitution. Do you think that will ever be possible in terms of handing back some power to the States?
CRAVEN: I think the fundamental problem with handing power back to the States is the referendum process because under Section 128 a referendum can only be begun by the Commonwealth Parliament. And why would the Commonwealth Parliament ever begin a referendum to give up power that it has to the States? There has never been such a referendum in the past and I can't imagine that there will be unless there's a massive change in the political culture of Australia. So it's very very hard to see how you could get a constitutional wind-back. I mean if I could amend the Constitution in one respect, any one respect I liked, the way that I would amend the Constitution would be to have what's called a State's Initiative whereby four States could initiate a referendum. And that way you might well be able to get a serious competition and federal ideas but I think it would be a fair bet that that would be the one referendum that would be opposed to the death like every single federal politician of every single federal party. So that's not going to happen. My view of federalism is that, I'm afraid it's a relatively depressed one, but I've been consistent in it for a long time. It is about defending the hill tops we've got left. I mean the golden days where the States were masters of their own financial destiny are going to be very very hard to return to. There will be a change with the GST. I mean that represents a change. There has been a significant hand-back I suppose of State financial power - and very hard to imagine comprehensive reform in that respect.
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