Dr Mark Matthews

Painting partnerships Federation Green

10 July 2013

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Dr Mark Matthews is Executive Director - Strategy, Australian National Institute of Public Policy and Executive Director of the HC Coombs Policy Forum.

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Some of Australia’s most pressing and tricky policy problems could be tackled through a new type of partnership between academics, state, territory and Federal governments, according to the Director of the HC Coombs Policy Forum.

Speaking at a workshop organised by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet on Wednesday, Dr Mark Matthews made the case for a new type of collaborative policy research partnership – Federal Challenge Consortia. Matthews suggested these partnerships could be made up of Federal and state and territory governments working with relevant academics to produce ‘Federation Green Papers’ that addressed how major policy challenges requiring improved Federal-state cooperation might be addressed.

Matthews said this type of structure might be what is needed to move beyond the combative Council of Australian Governments (COAG) process.

“There are plenty of major policy challenges that must be addressed at the interface between Federal and state governments, and in doing so assist the national interest,” he said. “This type of partnership could address those challenges.

“The inclusion of academics would be the critical enabler of success, not least because this may help to dilute COAG-style adversarial politics.”

He added the recent Tasmanian Government White Paper on Tasmania’s Place in the Asian Century – produced in partnership with Crawford School – showed what could be achieved when academia and government worked together.

“The Tasmanian Government’s appetite for taking the risk to deliver a White Paper via an innovative partnership model – their first White Paper in a decade – and their willingness to work in a balanced partnership with us, highlights that these things will only work when one combines the right type of academics with the right type of government officials.

“If we get this right, then the possibilities are compelling,” he said.

This was the second in a series of workshops involving Crawford School and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Read more about the first here: https://crawford.anu.edu.au/news/1637/building-better-partnerships

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