National Cabinet met in Brisbane today to agree a national approach to a range of priorities for Australians, including making healthcare more accessible and affordable and better planning to ensure communities thrive as they grow.
A Better Future for the Federation takes as its starting point that Australia can be more than the sum of its parts. That by co-operating more closely on everything from planning and housing to skills and services we can generate a multiplier effect for productivity gains and economic growth.
First Ministers had constructive and positive discussions on key national priorities including health, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the transition to net zero and strengthening national renters’ rights.
First Ministers agreed the federation should be a driver for practical and meaningful reform, not a barrier.
First Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to health as the priority for National Cabinet in 2023. To guide this, National Cabinet articulated their shared vision for ‘a patient-centred and sustainable Australian healthcare system that delivers the best outcome for our community’.
To support this, a range of tangible Strengthening Medicare measures that will make health care more accessible and affordable were agreed, including:
- Supporting workforces to work at top of scope, including pharmacists, paramedics.
- Expanding the nursing workforce to improve access to primary care.
- Improving access to and delivery of after-hours primary care.
- Introducing MyMedicare to support wrap around care for patients registered with their local GP through new blended payment models.
- Providing flexible funding for multi-disciplinary team-based models to improve quality of care.
- Investing in digital health to improve health outcomes.
This $2.2 billion package of measures will address immediate challenges in primary care, take pressure off the hospital system, and lay the foundations for long term Medicare reform.
First Ministers also endorsed the Independent Review of Overseas Health Practitioner Regulatory Settings Interim Report, led by Ms Robyn Kruk AO. The Interim Report recommends measures to immediately boost the health workforce and ensure Australia is a competitive destination for the global health workforce into the future, while maintaining high standards of quality and safety.
National Cabinet tasked Health Ministers to progress recommendations and report back to National Cabinet as a priority. The Interim Report will be released on federation.gov.au.
First Ministers agreed to a dedicated National Cabinet meeting on health reform in the second half of 2023.
National Disability Insurance Scheme
First Ministers committed to an NDIS Financial Sustainability Framework to ensure the NDIS can continue to provide life-changing outcomes for future generations of Australians with disability.
Noted that the Commonwealth is working with the NDIA Board to take immediate action to ensure a sustainable Scheme, and is committing more than $720 million in the 2023-24 Budget to lift NDIA’s capability, capacity and systems to better support participants.
The Framework is the next step, and will provide an annual growth target in the total costs of the Scheme of no more than 8 per cent by 1 July 2026, with further moderation of growth as the scheme matures.
Governments share the goal of reaching long term sustainability for the Scheme and have elevated this objective to National Cabinet. A sustainable growth trajectory for the NDIS will support equity and fairness for all Australians living with disability, including for those not eligible for the NDIS, and ensure that every dollar goes to those who need it most.
Better Planning for Stronger Growth
First Ministers agreed to a range of meaningful reforms to support a national approach to the growth of our cities, towns and suburbs, including:
- Housing Ministers will develop a proposal for National Cabinet in the second half of 2023 outlining reforms to strengthen renters’ rights across the country.
- As part of the new national Migration Strategy, the Commonwealth will ensure states and territories have a greater contribution to Australia’s migration settings, to ensure migration meets the local needs of communities across the country.
- The Commonwealth is commencing an independent review of its Infrastructure Investment Program and adopting a refreshed approach to infrastructure investment. States and territories have agreed to support the review.
- States and territories will also work with the Commonwealth to support a more sustainable infrastructure pipeline, in the short term, at around $120 billion over 10 years that provides certainty to the market and delivers the highest priority projects for growing communities.
- Within the next six months, Planning Ministers will develop a proposal for National Cabinet outlining reforms to increase housing supply and affordability, working with the Australian Local Government Association.
- The Commonwealth will also reinstate a vision to ensure growth in cities is sustainable in partnership with state and territory governments via the National Urban Policy.
In addition, the Commonwealth is also making new investments to promote better growth, including:
- Supporting a better migration system through increased visa processing capacity, expanding pathways to permanent residence for temporary skilled sponsored workers and taking steps to address migrant exploitation.
- Continued investment to enable a pipeline of new social and affordable dwellings, including delivering the Housing Australia Future Fund and expanding the capacity of the Affordable Housing Bond Aggregator by expanding the liability cap by $2 billion.
- Offering incentives to increase the supply of housing by:
- increasing the depreciation rate from 2.5 per cent to 4 per cent per year for eligible new build-to-rent projects where construction commences after 9 May 2023; and
- reducing the withholding tax rate for eligible fund payments from managed investment trusts to foreign residents on income from newly constructed residential build-to-rent properties after 1 July 2024 from 30 to 15 per cent, subject to further consultation on eligibility criteria.
National Skills Agreement
First Ministers continue to work collaboratively on long-term skills reform and agreed that Skills Ministers will finalise a new five year National Skills Agreement, informed by the vision and guiding principles endorsed by National Cabinet. The National Skills Agreement will ensure that high-quality, accessible education and training will be available to equip Australians with skills and prepare them for the jobs of now and the future.
Net Zero Transformation
National Cabinet discussed how to best support regions that are exposed to socio-economic changes associated with decarbonisation.
The Prime Minister also provided an update on roles and responsibilities across Australian governments for the implementation of the National Transformation Principles, agreed by National Cabinet in 2022. These reflect a shared commitment to capture the benefits of the energy transformation and support regions transitioning to decarbonisation.
Care and Support Economy
National Cabinet discussed the development of a national strategy for the care and support economy. First Ministers agreed to work together to progress a first tranche of reforms to streamline worker screening, improve worker safety, and grow the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander care and support workforce. The strategy will set the vision for a sustainable and productive care and support economy that delivers quality care and support with decent jobs.
Referendum on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Recognition
National Cabinet reaffirmed its Statement of Intent in February, of the unanimous support of State and Territory Leaders for constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and listening to them to achieve practical outcomes to close the gap.