FOUR in 10 voters favour abolishing state governments, seeing them as the least-effective level of government and increasingly looking to the federal government to fix health and other problems.

The findings of a Newspoll survey conducted last month for Griffith University's federalism project and reported exclusively in The Weekend Australian today point to what constitutional lawyer George Williams calls "a crisis of confidence in state governments".

Federalism project director A. J. Brown, a professor of public law, says that unless the structure of government is addressed seriously, the inevitable result of current trends is that the states will continue withering away as effective partners in the federation.

Support for abolishing state governments has jumped from 31 per cent to 39 per cent in two years, based on the system of government that people would like to see in 20 years.