A New Federal Architecture
The National Cabinet was established on 13 March 2020 and is comprised of the Prime Minister and state and territory leaders. The National Cabinet’s first priority is to respond to the health and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and is intended as a platform for leaders to collaboratively address issues of national significance.
On 29 May 2020, the National Cabinet agreed to the cessation of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), which was formerly a meeting of the Prime Minister, state and territory First Ministers and the President of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA). The National Cabinet agreed to the formation of the National Federation Reform Council (NFRC) – changing the way the Commonwealth and states and territories effectively and productively work together to address new areas of reform.
On 26 June 2020, the National Cabinet agreed Mr Peter Conran AM would lead a review into the former COAG Councils and Ministerial Forums (the Review). Previously, these councils and forums operated under the COAG structure, but were often inefficient and ineffective. The Review produced several recommendations, including reducing the number of ministerial forums and ensuring those that remain are more agile and responsive, with direct responsibility for decision-making resting with ministers.
On 23 October 2020, the National Cabinet accepted the Review’s recommendations. This represents a significant reform to Commonwealth-State relations and will reduce bureaucracy and red tape. Ministers’ Meetings will resolve issues in their portfolio, without a reporting line to the National Cabinet or the NFRC, unless tasked.
The findings of the Review can be found on the PM&C website.