Since the Prime Minister formed the National Cabinet, it has worked effectively to response to COVID-19. But with news of the cessation of COAG, the new National Federation Reform Council (NFRC), agreed by Premiers, Chief Ministers and the Prime Minister, will change the way the Commonwealth and State and Territories effectively and productively work together to address new areas of reform.
The National Cabinet will be driven by an initial single agenda – to create jobs.
By an measure National Cabinet has proven to be a much more effective body for taking decision in the national interest than the COAG structure.
At the centre of the NFRC will be National Cabinet. National Cabinet will continue to meet regularly and will be briefed directly by experts such as the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee. Initial reform areas will be agreed by National Cabinet.
During the COVID-19 period, National Cabinet is expected to continue to meet every two weeks. In the future, these meetings will take place once a month,
The Council of Federal Financial Relations (CFFR), which is essentially a meeting of all Treasurers, will report to National Cabinet. CFFR will take responsibility for all funding agreements including National Partnership Agreements.
Important taskforce will continue in areas that are critical to the National Agenda. The taskforce on women’s safety and domestic violence will continue their critical work, as will the indigenous Adair’s taskforce with a particular focus on Closing the Gap.
Once a year, National Cabinet, CFFR and the Australian Local Government Association will meet in person as the National Federation Reform Council with a focus on prioritising national federation issues such as Closing the Gap and Women’s Safety.
This new model is expected to streamline processes and avoid endless meetings that do not result in action. The Prime Minister has said this is a congestion busting process that will get things done with a single focus on creating jobs.
Further details on the National Federation Reform Council and consolidation and reset of the Ministerial Forums and Ministerial Regulatory Council will be reviewed by National Cabinet.