The first rule of any elected government in any nation that values its democratic freedoms is: To do no harm! Sadly, successive Australian governments have been ignoring this first basic rule of government while busily enacting policies which have more to do with socialist idealism than pragmatic and common sense solutions to those problems which tend to face any government at most times. Is it any wonder why we now have a federal bureaucracy, which is also copied by each individual state government, that is so large and encompasses so many diverse areas and which employs so many public servants, that the most pressing issue today within government is to keep the Bureaucrats who man them paid by using your tax dollars! And please remember, that no government produces any wealth of its own as ALL forms of government are reliant on what can be raised in the way of taxes in order to function.
The first Federal Government Ministry of 1901 had 8 portfolios (with 11 Ministers), the current Federal Government has 22 portfolios (with 30 Ministers). In just over 110 years the Federal Government has grown exponentially from a small government of what was then considered as more than adequate to fulfil its national duty with eight Ministries, to an almost threefold increase of 22 portfolios and 30 Ministers, the number of which is considered by those who man them as necessary for the running of the nation. Really! So what has changed in 110 years that would justify such a huge increase in Federal Government? Ministries such as the Ministry of Climate Change and Sustainable Population as well as a number of other Ministries should never have been created in the first place. Also, please remember, that with every increase in a Ministry Portfolio, there is also a bureaucracy of public servants that has to be employed to run it! In other words, while there has been a huge growth of Government Portfolios over the last century there has also been a huge increase in the number of public servants running it. And while this article is really only concerned with the Federal Government, the states and territories that also have their own governments and bureaucracies should also be of concern to the thinking citizen because of how much their numbers have also expanded.
Up until a few decades ago every state was responsible for its own tax raising, education, health and infrastructure. The Federal Government now controls what was once a state’s responsibility and allocates money and policy directly to state governments. What is wrong with that you may ask? Well, the Federal Government’s role used to be the running of federal and not state issues, but over the last century has, through hook and by crook, usurped state’s rights to the point that the states now have little control in how they run the state and have to be represented at Premiers’ Conferences to ask for Federal government money which the Federal Government has stripped from the states. This has been allowed to become an absurd situation where the most populous state of New South Wales, which also raises the most taxes, now finds itself begging in Canberra to get its fair share of ‘Commonwealth Revenue’ while the lesser populated states like Tasmania, due to their low levels of population, receive far more ‘Commonwealth Revenue’ per head of population than those states are able to raise. If the Federal Government cut back on its unnecessary bureaucracies along with the states duplication of the same bureaucracies, and therefore cut back on taxes, then this situation of tax imbalance would not be such an issue.
Some examples of un-needed federal bureaucracies are: Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry; Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy; Climate Change and Energy Efficiency; Innovation and Industry; Resources, Energy and Tourism – the functions of which should be able to be included within a broader Economy-Industry Department. Every time an issue is raised, even when it is an important issue, it should not require yet another government department; many of these issues could have been dealt with within existing departments. There are also others that duplicate state level bureaucracies, such as within the Department of Health and Ageing. Duplication of government bureaucracies should be avoided, not encouraged like the major parties have been doing. Neither side of the political establishment seems to remove any of these bureaucracies when they get in.
Our Federal Government has become a heavily centralised government. Anyone familiar how Central Governments tend to accumulate power and then dictate to the nation should be very wary of permitting our Federalist system of Federal/State governments – which under our Constitution were to be responsible for their own territory- to be co-opted by those who believe Central Government works best, and States rights make no sense. Also, anyone aware of their history should be aware that over-centralised governments, such as the failing British model is proving to be, become total failures, because their bureaucracies become so large that they become unwieldy – and any government that depends on them for the nation’s wellbeing becomes un-manageable!
Our Federal Government is also in bed with big business and corporations which now influence to an extent the direction that government takes. Anyone who has a limited knowledge of how an economy works for the benefit of its citizenry will realize that when government is influenced by the people with money, and who are in business to make more money, the outcome for the citizen will not be to the citizen’s advantage. Money is power in political circles, and those who control the money must be kept from exerting any influence over any government.
To the average Australian, the workings of government and the economy still remain a mystery. The only real mystery though is how a government that was placed into power in 1901, to run the Commonwealth of Australia while the states did their own thing, and has become in a little over 100 years a form of Centralized Government that now controls virtually everything, a form of government that would make Comrade Lenin proud. Do we blame successive runs of politicians who chose to fix what they could in office while they left the real mess created by those they replaced to those who would come after them? Do we blame the centralists and socialists who have an agenda to turn all Western democracies into more ‘controllable’ forms of Centralized government, incrementally, while obeying the overlording of United Nations rulings? (The same centralists and socialists seek to bring in more and more authoritarian or overbearing laws, act by act, so that most people don’t even notice their freedoms and rights being taken away from them.) Or do we blame ourselves, the voters, for being too trusting in those we have elected to office which then allowed us to take our eyes off the political ball, while those we trusted did what all of us one day will come to regret?
Whenever new laws and regulations are made, they require more government bureaucrats to enforce them, along with new bureaucratic departments, buildings, and infrastructure. With more and more rules to control our lives, issued from the politicians and government bureaucrats in their ivory towers, come more and more taxes to prop up the expanding bureaucracies required to put those rules into effect. Although those issuing the new rules presumably have good intentions, we are fast becoming a “nanny state” with rules to govern most aspects of our lives (compare this with the life our forebears had, even 50 years ago, free from too much overbearing government control and intrusion), and the fact is that many of these new rules are causing harm and angst to our farmers, small businesses, and our way of life.
A good government is a small government and political parties that are not influenced by big business or unions will become successful governments, providing they adhere to the first principle of good government: To do no harm!
References and further reading:
 “Barton-Deakin Ministries: 1901-04”, AustralianPolitics.com
“Departments and agencies”, Australian Government 
“Government ministry, Australian Government” [Current ministry list – 43rd Parliament Ministry]
“Portfolios”, Australian Government Directory 
“List of Australian government ministers”, Wikipedia
“List of Australian Commonwealth Government entities”, Wikipedia