Today the Prime Minister, along with state and territory First Ministers, met in Canberra to discuss their shared priorities.
They discussed how the National Cabinet can support strong collaborative relationships and drive progress on priorities for the nation.
National Cabinet will build on recent collaborative efforts to support the COVID-19 health response and support the delivery of additional areas of focus.
In recognition of the pressures in the health and hospital system exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commonwealth Government will extend the National Partnership on COVID-19 Response for a further three months to 31 December 2022, at a cost of approximately $760 million.
To deliver a more cooperative streamlined approach to Federation, First Ministers agreed to identify practical improvements to the health system and specifically the connections between GPs and hospitals. This includes working together to identify practical ways to get aged care residents and NDIS participants out of hospital and into a more appropriate setting.
Following the Commonwealth Government’s commitments to increased investment in primary care, the Commonwealth will also work with states and territories, drawing on local knowledge, to determine the final locations for Medicare Urgent Care Clinics.
The First Secretaries Group, chaired by Professor Glyn Davis, has been tasked with developing these improvements to the way the health system operates and reporting back to the National Cabinet.
National Cabinet affirmed its shared commitment to urgently addressing skills shortages. As part of the Commonwealth’s commitment, it will urgently work to address a backlog in processing visa applications in areas of skills shortages, reduce visa processing times and prioritise training and migration.
The Council on Federal Financial Relations (CFFR), chaired by Dr Jim Chalmers, will also provide advice within three months to National Cabinet on pressures on Commonwealth and State and Territory budgets, including anticipated fiscal pressures with a focus on areas of joint funding responsibility.
National Cabinet will next meet before the Commonwealth Budget in October 2022 to discuss these reforms and how the Commonwealth and states will work better together in the future. To advance microeconomic and productivity reforms, First Secretaries were also tasked with providing advice on the role of Ministerial Councils in progressing national priorities, with a sharpened focus on productivity improvements.
States and Territories expressed their support for the Commonwealth’s commitment to progress a referendum to constitutionally enshrine a Voice to Parliament in the Constitution as a matter of priority.
At the meeting, Treasury Secretary, Dr Steven Kennedy, provided an update on the economic and fiscal outlook for 2022.
Senior national security officials also provided First Ministers an update on national security issues and the current national threat environment, to further information sharing and intergovernmental engagement on national security matters.
National Cabinet noted several further challenges facing the nation and committed to continue to work together on solutions that will produce the best outcomes for all Australians.
- Energy markets across eastern Australia and the ongoing discussions between energy Ministers. They further agreed to continue working together to protect and improve outcomes for Australian consumers.
- Disaster recovery funding arrangements and the need to ensure they were consistent, streamlined and equitable.
- Measures to boost productivity across all sectors.
The National Cabinet affirmed a shared commitment to the Commonwealth’s revised Nationally Determined Contribution to a reduction in Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions of 43 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, which has been submitted to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
National Cabinet will invite a representative of Local Government to future meetings of National Cabinet and CFFR once a year to ensure all levels of Government are represented. The National Cabinet has agreed to meet a minimum of four times a year or as necessary and will next meet prior to the Federal Budget in October 2022.