An ‘integrated’ federation?

Authored by: Cheryl Saunders

Routledge Handbook of Regionalism and Federalism

Print publication date:  May  2013
Online publication date:  July  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415566216
eBook ISBN: 9780203395974
Adobe ISBN: 9781136727627


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Australia was established as a federal state and remains distinctively federal in form, along lines that can be described as dualist. 1 In practice, however, the operation of the Australian federation has changed substantially over a period of more than 100 years, in ways that are outlined in this chapter. The Australian case undoubtedly substantiates the thesis explored by this volume that comparative understanding of the forms that states take is not much advanced by the simple distinction between federal and unitary. On the other hand, the Australian experience also suggests that the search for a more useful typology also must take into account the significant variations in forms through which federalism is given effect, along a broad spectrum that at one end morphs into constitutionalized regionalism, where the concept of hybridity offers a particularly instructive tool. This is because despite the changes that have occurred, Australia is still accurately characterized as a federation, although one that operates in a far more integrated way than the other broadly comparable federations of the United States and Canada.

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