A representative of local government will be invited to future meetings of National Cabinet and the Council on Federal Financial Relations once a year.
The decision was made at this morning’s National Cabinet, the first for Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, with state and territory leaders.
“The National Cabinet agreed…that we will invite a representative of local government to a future meeting of the National Cabinet and the Treasury body once a year to each of those meetings, to ensure that all levels of government are able to be involved,” Mr Albanese told reporters at a press conference.
The National Cabinet will meet at least four times a year or as necessary, with the next meeting to be before the federal budget in October.
Local government had been lobbying for a seat at National Cabinet since May 2020, when former Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that the Council of Australian Governments would be disbanded and replaced with the permanent National Cabinet.
Other items discussed at the meeting include the National Partnership on COVID-19 Response, which will be extended for a further three months to December 31 at a cost of approximately $760 million.
The partnership, an agreement between the federal government and states and territories, was created to support the country’s health system to respond to the outbreak of Covid-19.
First Ministers agreed at the meeting to finding practical improvements to the health system, specifically the connections between general practitioners and hospitals.
The federal government will also work with states and territories and draw on local knowledge regarding the final locations for Medicare Urgent Care Clinics.
These clinics are part of Labor’s election policy and their purpose is to make it easier for Australian families to see a doctor or nurse with urgent, but not life threatening, need for care.
The CFFR, chaired by Federal Treasurer Dr Jim Chalmers, will provide advice within three months to National Cabinet on pressures on federal and state and territory budgets.
National Cabinet noted several challenges facing the nation, including energy markets across eastern Australia, disaster recovery funding arrangements and boosting productivity across all sectors.