It was indeed pleasing for the timber industry nationally to have the Prime Minister Mr Albanese this week deliver a strong endorsement of Australia’s sustainably managed native and plantation timber industries.
It is a message he has delivered before, and as then, is very welcoming.
It is of course in strong contrast to the actions of the Labor premiers of Western Australia and Victoria who are proceeding to shut down the native timber industries in their states.
But this has led to some ask the question; why doesn’t the Prime Minister’s support overrule what the premiers want to do?
Who has the authority here?
The member for Eastern Victoria Melina Bath raised the point on her Facebook page.
“So, the Prime Minister can see the science, logic and sustainability of our native timber industry yet the Andrews Government refuses to do so,” she wrote.
“It is just atrocious what Daniel Andrews is doing to our timber communities and environment.
“Premier, have a chat with your Federal Leader.”
It’s a good point, but the bottom line is that a) premiers do not need to listen to the prime minister and b) the prime minister can’t force the states to listen.
Sadly, it’s as simple as that and it’s not hard to find a recent example.
Think back to the peak of Covid. Think back to the last major bushfires.
In both cases the Federal Government advised, offered help, and suggested strategies.
But the Federal Government could not step in.
The Federal Government simply has no power to override the decisions of state
Governments except in accordance with the Federal Constitution.
And whether we like it or not, the shutting down of the native timber industry is not a constitutional matter.
Then there is the next question; why wouldn’t the leader of the Labor Party nationally have some sway over his Labor colleagues who are premiers?
Oh, if only that was the case.
Try getting the NSW branch of the Labor Party to toe the Federal line. Good luck there.
Try getting WA’s Labor Premier Mark McGowan, or recently returned Dan Andrews to toe the Federal line.
The Labor party is so controlled by the factions that will simply never happen.
It’s a nice thought, but it seems the nation is stuck with the present system.
As Sir Winston Churchill once said: “democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others that have been tried”.