"Australia's federal system of governance is in a state of flux, and its relevance in a globalised world is being challenged. After decades of debate about different possibilities for institutional reform - some of them predating Federation itself - dramatic shifts are occurring in the way in which power and responsibility are shared between federal, state and local governments, and in the emergence of an increasingly important 'fourth sphere' of governance at the regional level of Australian society. For those who fear a continuing growth in the power of the Commonwealth Government, the shifting state of federalism may seem unwelcome; but whether we see state governments as in decline or a new ascendancy, the fact remains that in the early 21st century, subnational regionalism is a live issue amid the practical realities of Australian public policy. Far from simple questions of local administration, the effectiveness, legitimacy and efficiency of new regional approaches are 'big ticket' issues on the contemporary political landscape. The management of our cities, of our sea-change regions, of natural resources through regions of every type, of hospitals and health services across the Australian community; these are all issues focussing the attention of decision-makers and communities from the top to the bottom of our system of government. In May 2006, around 100 experts with diverse experiences in public policy, academic research and community arenas from across eastern Australia came together in Parliament House, Sydney, New South Wales, to discuss current shifts in the relationship between federalism and subnational regionalism, their implications for existing institutions of government, and the directions in which public institutions could and should evolve as a result of these new approaches. The symposium 'Federalism and Regionalism in Australia: New Approaches, New Institutions?',1 resulted in a broad consensus that traditional institutional frameworks are indeed changing, in response to the quest for more adaptive, effective, legitimate and efficient forms of governance. The main question put to the symposium, was whether it was also time to start addressing how new regional approaches fitted into overall trends in institutional restructuring and reform affecting the Australian public sector, rather than simply noting and tracking a plethora of developments that otherwise remain fundamentally ad hoc. The consensus arising was, again, that the answer was 'yes'. The policy 'drivers' behind new governance approaches were identified as not simply national, but also, at the same time, fundamentally local and regional in nature. As a result, this volume, based on papers and presentations given to the symposium, is intended as a first step towards understanding these new trajectories of Australian federalism and regionalism. The purpose of the volume is to test - and confirm - two basic propositions about the future of Australian federalism. The first is that the evolution of state, regional and local institutions has become a vital issue for the future of federal governance. In other words, making federalism work is not simply a matter of continual improvement in public administration, or fine-tuning intergovernmental relations between the Commonwealth and existing State governments, but a question of structural reform involving the distribution of roles, responsibilities and governance capacities throughout our system of government. The second proposition is that this question needs to be addressed in a conscious and concerted way, through a program of informed restructuring, if the federal system is to be made adequately legitimate, effective, adaptive and efficient in the medium to long term. These propositions immediately inspire a lot of questions. What do we mean by adequacy, when it comes to goals such as legitimacy, effectiveness, adaptiveness, and efficiency? What types of reform are we talking about? What path of reform are we on already, if we are on one? What research is needed to better inform that path? The chapters in this volume provide the basis for a more informed debate by fleshing out these questions and, in many cases, providing clearer answers. While a variety of suggestions are made, no specific institutional prescription arises from this discussion about how federalism should be reformed. Indeed, it is a strength of these chapters that all the contributors argue, directly or indirectly, for a new debate which better establishes the common principles that reform proposals need to address, in order to establish a more coherent direction for the federal system. Together these chapters set out multiple examples of the current 'drivers' for reform, including a range of new approaches and imperatives in regional policy, against a background of old and new institutional options for the strengthening of local and regional governance in Australian federalism."--Provided by publisher.