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Morrison says national cabinet may continue once virus is defeated

Politics

The national cabinet formed during the coronavirus pandemic is working so well the Prime Minister thinks it should be made permanent – and the Queensland Premier agrees.

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The national cabinet, made up of the prime minister, premiers and chief ministers, has met regularly during the crisis to provide a joint approach to tackling the impact of COVID-19.

Morrison said the federation has been “more responsive and more co-ordinated than we’ve seen in many years” and flagged a move away from the traditional Council Of Australian Governments model.

“The national cabinet has been an effective way for all governments to work together, share ­information and make decisions in a timely and consistent way during this crisis,” Morrison told The Australian newspaper.

“The processes we’ve established for the national cabinet may prove to be a better way for our federal system to work in the future, but this will be a matter for another time.”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk today agreed, saying she hoped the days of “people talking at each other” at the COAG were over.

Palaszczuk said there had been “unprecedented cooperation and decision-making” at national cabinet and the meetings had been well chaired by Morrison.

“I think it’s really important here the prime minister is listening to the states and he is responding,” Palaszczuk said, adding that she would support any changes that would capture that spirit of cooperative federalism.

Throughout the crisis, Morrison has taken the opportunity to praise the states, both Liberal and Labor, as government leaders stayed on message about the need for a united response.

Today there is political consensus that Australia not look to lift the health restrictions too quickly, and first ensure the health response for any surge in cases is adequate – particularly if there is a second wave of infections.

Palaszczuk urged people to “put a hold” on talk of returning to business as usual, and remember the planned six months of restrictions. She made the comments as the Queensland government made arrangements for students to learn from home for at least the first five weeks of next term.

Morrison said it was important to “not get ahead of ourselves”. He made mention of the National Rugby League’s “ambitious” plan to resume the season at the end of May in describing efforts to manage risks while preparing for the future.

“I welcome the fact that people are thinking ahead and working out ways they can get things back on a stronger footing,” the Prime Minister told Seven’s Sunrise program.

“That is certainly what we’re doing as a national cabinet, whether it is on the economy or on health, or any of these other issues, we have got to look forward to the other side, because there is another side, and Australians are helping us get to that other side.”

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