Australia

PM’s big change after COVID crisis

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a major change in how the nation’s states and territories will work together with the Federal Government, after the success of the National Cabinet formed in response to the coronavirus crisis.Mr Morrison announced his plan for “national federation reform”, which would see the traditional Council of Australian Governments (COAG)…

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a major change in how the nation’s states and territories will work together with the Federal Government, after the success of the National Cabinet formed in response to the coronavirus crisis.

Mr Morrison announced his plan for “national federation reform”, which would see the traditional Council of Australian Governments (COAG) dumped in favour of National Cabinet meetings.

The Prime Minister said the change was based on the success of the National Cabinet meetings, saying its continuation, which would have a focus on rebuilding jobs, would “ensure Australians get better government, more focused Government at a state and federal level”.

He said the National Cabinet would continue to meet fortnightly during the pandemic, and would then continue to meet regularly. He vowed the ongoing meetings would not become “a place where good ideas went to die”, as critics, including the PM himself, had dubbed COAG.

Speaking after today’s National Cabinet, Mr Morrison declared Australia is “on track and making progress” sooner than predicted when it comes to defeating the coronavirus threat and reopening the national economy.

Following his first meeting with premiers and chief ministersin two weeks, Mr Morrison said the three-step plan agreed upon by state and territory leaders earlier this month was “very much in implementation, but that it was too early to assess the impact of eased restrictions.

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Mr Morrison announced his three-stage plan in which social distancing restrictions would be eased after the last National Cabinet meeting earlier this month.

Stage one involved allowing five visitors at a home, groups of 10 in public places and businesses and allowing restaurants and cafes to reopen while still abiding by distancing measures.

Stage two would allow gatherings of 20 people in their homes, in businesses and in public places.

Gyms, beauty salons, cinemas, galleries and amusement parks would be able to reopen, as would caravan and camping groups. Some interstate travel could also be permissible in stage two.

Stage three would see allowable gathering sizes increased to 100, meaning pubs and clubs could reopen.

Other businesses and places of gathering like food courts and saunas would also reopen.

Mr Morrison said he had hoped each state and territory would reach stage three by July, but with the country’s low infection rate the Federal Government is hopeful it could come even sooner.

Earlier, Health Minister Greg Hunt said today’s meeting provided an opportunity to review the progress each state had made.

“The states and the territories are adopting those baselines when they feel they are ready to do that,” he said.

“They are actually adopting them more quickly than expected.

“One of the things they’ll be looking at is the speed and consistency of adoption of those baselines.”

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