Increasingly Australians sense that there are serious problems with the country’s governance systems but few are prepared to seriously question them. This book breaks away from the avoidance strategy of piecemeal tinkering. Why not rewrite the Constitution? The constitutional changes sought particularly concern the dysfunctional federation of Australian states, dating back to 1901. Much of Australia’s Constitution was a political bargain of six colonies that made sense at the time but can now only be described as both archaic and costly. However, there is more to be overhauled and renewed. Australia needs a Constitution that reflects the independent society it is meant to serve, is flexible and owned by all citizens. Most of the authors in this book came together in 2001 to form a group named Beyond Federation. They proceeded to have regular conferences over the next decade and beyond. The book largely grew out of these exchanges and research on changing views of federation, and the high cost of maintaining that structure.
Beyond Federation is not a blueprint for a particular other constitutional model. Instead, it could be described as a multifaceted examination of Australia’s structural and governance problems together with options to create a new democratic constitution and political system. The prime objective here is to stimulate public debate on alternatives. The group is planning a Conference in 2015 to discuss such alternatives.