Further to my constitutional discussion Geoff Gallop has defended the States in today's SMH.
His core thesis is the idea of "competitive Federalism", wherein the various States vie to achieve relative advantage against each other and that certain positive initiatives might not emerge were it not for Federalism. That two of his examples are bottle deposits (SA) and no pokies (WA) makes the argument less than brilliant. He is perhaps on safer ground with the Victorian Charter of Rights and the NSW safe injecting room trials. But there is no reason to believe that a properly functioning (i.e. with a parliament that works) unitary system can't get this outcom.
He also tries to have a second bite by then extolling the benefits of "co-operative federalism", the need or he states, territories and feds to co-operate on major initiatives. A key drawback however with the co-operative model is the extent to which it disempowers Parliaments - the Parliaments very much gt presented with "take it or destroy it" outcomes from often "secret" negotiations. While eight Parliaments get to legislate to support the scheme, none of them can scrutinise the Bills the way they are normally done, and there is no viable option for the legislation to be amended.
The article refers to some online debate at iQ squared - but frustratingly the online version doesn't include a link to it on the SMH website. For those who want to participate the site is http://www.iq2oz.com/. I suggest the SMH needs to improve its idea of being the "media partner". Pity it is being held on a Tuesday - that's bridge night and we've missed the last two weeks.