National Cabinet met in Sydney today to discuss COVID-19 settings and key joint-actions for the upcoming Jobs and Skills Summit.
Acting Chief Medical Officer Professor Michael Kidd provided an update on the pandemic and outlined strategies for combating potential COVID-19 waves.
First Ministers reinforced their commitment to continued collaboration between commonwealth, state and territory governments in managing the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Cabinet agreed to reduce the isolation periods for COVID-19 positive cases from seven to five following a positive test, with the following caveats:
- This would apply to people with no symptoms at five days.
- Seven days isolation remains for workers in high risk setting including aged care, disability care, those providing care in the home.
This is a proportionate response at this point in the pandemic.
These changes will come into effect from Friday 9 September, with the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment (PLDP) eligibility to reflect the changed isolation periods, effective the same date.
National Cabinet also agreed to remove the mandatory wearing of masks on domestic flights. This change will also come into effect from Friday 9 September.
Ahead of the Jobs and Skills Summit, First Ministers discussed ongoing workforce shortages impacting Australia’s economy and employers’ access to skilled workers. They agreed on the vision statement and guiding principles for a new National Skills Agreement.
First Ministers discussed the essential role of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) as part of the education system and as a powerful lever for increasing participation of women in the workforce.
The National Cabinet agreed on the importance of delivering nationally significant energy transmission projects, and supporting regional communities and workforces to capture the opportunities emerging from Australia’s transition to a net zero emissions economy.
First Ministers agreed:
- Commence work on a new National Skills Agreement in place from 1 January 2024 informed by the vision statement and guiding principles.
- State and Territory Energy Ministers will work towards implementing reforms to accelerate the delivery of transmission projects. Regional communities will benefit from the investment, employment and training opportunities presented by the energy transition.
- Work together on a long-term vision for ECEC to better support parents’ workforce participation and deliver improved early learning and child development outcomes as a national priority.
- That Education and Early Years Ministers will work together to identify priority areas where governments can collaborate to support better outcomes across the system, with a particular focus on Early Childhood Education and Care workforce shortages, and with an update on progress to be provided to National Cabinet by the end of 2022.
- Housing affordability issues will be discussed at the next in person meeting of the National Cabinet.
- The National Cabinet also agreed to task the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency to acceleration skills and qualification recognition in key sectors.
The National Cabinet remains committed to working together on national priorities and will meet again next month.