Meeting of National Cabinet – the Federation working for Australia

National Cabinet met in Canberra today and made important progress on key reforms that will strengthen our health system, secure the future of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and keep Australians safe.

Today we see the Commonwealth acting with common purpose, in the common interests of all Australians. The Federation is working for Australia.

Australia has world-leading health and disability support services, and National Cabinet agreed we must work better together to address growing pressures on our health system and the NDIS, to ensure the systems can continue to be delivered sustainably into the future.

Health reform

Health was National Cabinet’s top priority for 2023 and First Ministers remain committed to addressing the pressures facing our health system.

Strengthening Medicare

First Ministers have agreed to a further $1.2 billion package of Strengthening Medicare measures to take pressure off our hospitals. These measures will grow and support our health workforce, while reducing unnecessary presentations to emergency departments.

The Commonwealth will:

  • Fund and implement, with states and territories, the health-related recommendations from the Independent Review of Health Practitioner Regulatory Settings (Kruk Review)
  • Boost funding for Medicare Urgent Care Clinics; and
  • Supporting older Australians through avoided hospital admission and earlier discharge from hospital

National Health Reform Agreement

Australians rightly want a whole-of-system approach to healthcare, where primary care and hospitals are connected and able to provide optimal models of care in the right place and the right time.

National Cabinet endorsed Commonwealth increasing National Health Reform Agreement contributions to 45 per cent over a maximum of a 10-year glide path from 1 July 2025, with an achievement of 42.5 per cent before 2030.

National Cabinet endorsed the current 6.5 per cent funding cap being replaced by a more generous approach that applies a cumulative cap over the period 2025-2030 and includes a first year ‘catch up’ growth premium.

As part of these reforms, agreed to a continued focus on addressing elective surgery waiting lists as a priority.

Health Ministers will commence the renegotiation of the National Health Reform Agreement (NHRA) Addendum to embed long-term, system-wide structural health reforms, including considering the NHRA Mid-Term Review findings.

These reforms will focus on the entire health system and move towards a more integrated, equitable, efficient and sustainable system. This will give Australians better access to health services they need, when they need them, and alleviate current pressures in public hospitals across the country.

First Ministers are committed to continuing to work together as these reforms progress.

National Disability Insurance Scheme

National Cabinet acknowledged the need for reforms to secure the future of the NDIS, ensuring it can continue to provide life-changing support to future generations of Australians with a disability.

Governments noted the forthcoming release of the final report of the Independent NDIS Review, co-led by Professor Bruce Bonyhady AM and Ms Lisa Paul AO PSM.

As an initial response to the NDIS Review, National Cabinet agreed to work together to:

  • Implement legislative and other changes to the NDIS to improve the experience of participants and restore the original intent of the Scheme to support people with permanent and significant disability, within a broader ecosystem of supports.
  • Adjust state and territory NDIS contribution escalation rates, increasing from 4 per cent to be in line with actual Scheme growth, capped at 8 per cent, with the Commonwealth paying the remainder of Scheme costs growth, commencing from 1 July 2028.

The National Cabinet agreed to jointly design additional Foundational Supports to be jointly commissioned by the Commonwealth and the states, with the work oversighted by the First Secretaries Group. Additionally, the Council of Federal Financial Relations (CFFR) will oversight costs of the reforms and report to National Cabinet.

An initial tranche of legislation will be introduced into the Commonwealth Parliament in the first half of 2024, with rule changes phased in as developed.

The delivery of Foundational Supports would look to be delivered through existing government service settings where appropriate (e.g. child care, schools), phased in over time.

Funding would be agreed through new Federal Funding Agreements, with additional costs split 50-50, and final details to be settled through CFFR.

The Commonwealth agreed to cap an additional expenditure for states and territories on new foundational disability services to ensure the combined health and disability reforms will see all states and territories better off.

These commitments demonstrate Governments’ ongoing commitment to the NDIS. Discussions with the disability community will continue over the coming months as we work together to make the positive changes needed for people with disability.

Goods and Services Tax (GST) No Worse Off Guarantee

National Cabinet agreed to extend the GST No Worse Off Guarantee in its current form for three years from 2027-28. This will ensure GST proceeds are shared fairly and equitably, providing funding certainty for states.

National Cabinet’s priority is safeguarding service delivery and achieving fiscal sustainability, and extending the GST No Worse Off Guarantee will help support this.

National Firearms Register

Ahead of the anniversary of the police shooting in Wieambilla, National Cabinet agreed to implement a National Firearms Register – delivering on an outstanding reform from the Port Arthur massacre response in 1996. This represents the most significant improvement in Australia’s firearms management systems in almost 30 years and will keep Australia’s first responders and community safer.

While Australia has some of the strongest firearms laws in the world, the Register will address significant gaps and inconsistencies with the way firearms are managed across all jurisdictions.

The register will be a federated model – state data connects with a central hub data allowing near real time information sharing across the country.

The Commonwealth will assist states and territories with funding the reforms, which will provide enduring benefits for decades to come.

National Cabinet agreed to work together to ensure that the Register is fully operational within four years.

Operation AEGIS

National Cabinet was briefed by the Australian Federal Police Commissioner, Reece Kershaw and Acting Australian Border Force Commissioner, Kaylene Zakharoff on Operation AEGIS and the close collaboration between Commonwealth and State and Territory law enforcement.

This media statement has been agreed by First Ministers and serves as a record of meeting outcomes.

Joint Leaders Statement on the Australia–Papua New Guinea Bilateral Security Agreement

Today we signed a Bilateral Security Agreement.

The Agreement is a legally-binding framework to deepen our security cooperation – in traditional areas of defence, policing, border and maritime security, and also non-traditional areas of cyber security, climate change, gender-based violence and critical infrastructure.

It will elevate our security relationship to advance shared security interests while contributing to our region’s security.

The Agreement fulfils a commitment under our Comprehensive Strategic and Economic Partnership.  Consistent with our shared commitment to transparency, the Agreement will be publicly available.

As we sign the Agreement, we announce a commitment of $200 million in support of Papua New Guinea’s national security priorities.

We have agreed full circle support for Papua New Guinea’s internal security, from police to courts to correctional services. This includes initiatives that reflect the Bilateral Security Agreement’s focus on climate change, gender-based violence and cyber.

Papua New Guinea will establish a Port Moresby-based Police Recruit and Investigations Training Centre with Australia’s support.  The Centre will enable Papua New Guinea to recruit and train a larger and more capable force.

Papua New Guinea has offered to open the Training Centre to other Pacific police forces.  Papua New Guinea and Australia will continue to support the development of regional policing in the Pacific through the Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police as our region’s policing institution.

We will continue to support economic security, including through support for trade, border security and increased engagement in the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme.

CHIEF MINISTER FYLES ROLLS OUT THE RED CARPET FOR TAMBORAN LOBBYISTS

Reports that the Fyles Government political strategy is being advised and led by the same consultancy that is directly responsible for lobbying by fracking giant Tamboran Resources are alarming and outrageous.

The third major scandal within a month that shows the Chief Minister answers to the gas industry not her constituents. The Greens are calling on the Prime Minister to raise this clear conflict of interest with Chief Minister Fyles at tomorrow’s national cabinet meeting.

Greens leader in the Senate and spokesperson on democracy Senator Larissa Waters said:

“It is outrageous for Mr Richardson to be in charge of political strategy for the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, while also lobbying for Tamboran Resources to unleash a carbon-bomb by fracking the Beetaloo Basin.

“This isn’t just a back door into parliament and influencing political decisions, it’s rolling out the red carpet for Tamboran to have all the information they need to get their way on Beetaloo.

“It’s bad enough when we see ex-parliamentarians and senior staffers heading straight into a lobbying role after they leave office – but in the NT, the lobbyists appear to be on the Parliamentary payroll.

“This is absolutely unacceptable and yet another case of poor decision-making from Chief Minister Fyles. The Northern Territory, democracy and the environment deserve better.”

NT Greens Convenor, Jonathan Parry said:

“The capture of the NT Labor government by big gas companies is disturbing and unethical. It is offensive to Territorians to have their elected members so blatantly disregard basic integrity.

“Frankly, I am disgusted that the Chief Minister would think it appropriate to spend taxpayers money getting political advice from the same firm lobbying for an expansion of fracking in the NT.

“It is becoming impossible to see where the Fyles Labor Government ends and the gas industry begins.

“We need a transparent lobbyist register for the NT that identifies those seeking to influence the government.”

France-Australia Joint Statement On the official visit to Australia by French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Catherine Colonna

Australia and France share a commitment to a dynamic bilateral relationship founded on trust, shared values and shared interests, globally and in the Indo-Pacific, in line with the priorities agreed by the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese during their meeting on 1 July 2022.

Today’s visit by France’s Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna, at the invitation of Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Senator the Hon Penny Wong, and the adoption of the France-Australia Bilateral Roadmap are further milestones in our renewed and ambitious France-Australia partnership.

The Roadmap is based on the three pillars of defence and security, resilience and climate action, and education and culture. We recognise the strategic challenges that the Indo-Pacific is facing, and we are using our partnership to advance regional peace, stability, and prosperity. We are working to support a just and clean energy transition and adaptation in both countries and with our partners in the Indo-Pacific. We are boosting opportunities for educational and research collaboration, and cultural understanding, to strengthen our people-to-people links.

We share a commitment to uphold multilateralism, international rules and norms, particularly the fundamental principles reflected in international law and the UN Charter, including on human rights, on sovereignty, territorial integrity and the peaceful settlement of disputes without resorting to the threat or use of force or coercion.

Australia and France unequivocally condemn Hamas’s 7 October terror attacks on Israel, and call for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. Australia and France recognise Israel’s right to defend itself. In doing so, Israel must respect international humanitarian law. Civilians and civilian infrastructure must be protected. Safe and unimpeded humanitarian access must be increased. The world has witnessed a harrowing number of civilian deaths, including children. This must not continue. The recent pause in hostilities allowed for the release of more than 100 hostages and supported an increase in humanitarian access to affected civilians. We want to see the pause resumed and support international efforts towards a sustainable ceasefire. We recognise this cannot be one-sided. Hamas, a terror organisation, is still bombing Israel, using Palestinian civilians as shields, and holding hostages. The crisis underscores the need for a political solution to the long-running conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, which can only be a two-state solution in which Israel and a future Palestinian state exist in peace and security within internationally recognised borders.

Almost two years since Russia’s full-scale invasion, Australia and France reaffirm their ongoing and unequivocal condemnation of Russia’s illegal unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine. Our shared commitment to supporting Ukraine remains unchanged. We demand that Russia immediately cease hostilities and withdraw its troops from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders. Russia’s irresponsible nuclear rhetoric and its announced deployment of nuclear weapons in Belarus are unacceptable. We call on all those with influence with Russia including China, to press Russia to stop its military aggression, and to support a just and lasting peace in Ukraine, fully respecting the United Nations Charter and, in particular, Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

As Indo-Pacific countries, Australia and France agree to continue to work together to guarantee an Indo-Pacific region that is open, stable, prosperous and inclusive, with respect for all countries’ sovereignty. We agree to commit to promoting practical measures to reduce the risk of strategic competition escalating into conflict.

Australia and France express strong opposition to any coercion or destabilising actions in the South China Sea, including militarisation of disputed features. We affirm the need for safe and professional behaviour in all domains and reaffirm the intention to continue transits and deployments in the Indo-Pacific in accordance with international law , particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). We underline the importance of continuing to work together to support countries being able to exercise their rights under UNCLOS, including freedom of navigation and overflight. Australia and France recognise the 2016 South China Sea Arbitral Award is final and binding on both parties.

Australia and France reaffirm the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. We oppose any unilateral change to the status quo and call for the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues through dialogue without the threat or use of force or coercion. We will continue to deepen unofficial economic, scientific, technological and cultural ties with Taiwan. We support Taiwan’s meaningful participation to the work of international organisations, including as a member where statehood is not a prerequisite.

Australia and France are committed to continuing to develop their cooperation to support Pacific priorities, fostering regional security, stability and economic progress. The Letter of Intent signed between the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Agence Française de Développement will enhance our coordination and cooperation in the Pacific, including on Pacific priorities such as climate change resilience, fostering energy transition, humanitarian assistance, the prevention of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and action in the leadup to UNOC3 in 2025. We will continue to strengthen cooperation with the Pacific, including through the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) and other regional organisations, in support of the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.

On the existential challenge of climate change, the France-Australia partnership is committed to strengthening adaptability and resilience of island countries, while protecting their forest and marine ecosystems. Preservation of the rich biodiversity of the Pacific remains at the heart of our common interests. Australia and France will continue to act in concert to ensure an effective response to natural disasters and their humanitarian impacts in the Pacific.

Action to eliminate Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking

The Albanese Government is working to eliminate the scourge of modern slavery and human trafficking through action at home and overseas.

Today Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus and Assistant Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence Justine Elliot will host the 15th National Roundtable on Human Trafficking and Slavery.

To help deliver the Albanese Government’s ambitious reform agenda, 20 members have been appointed to the Modern Slavery Expert Advisory Group.

The Group will advise on the operation of the Modern Slavery Act 2018 and the practical implementation of measures to strengthen the Act, which the Government is considering following the Modern Slavery Act Review.

The individuals and organisations who have been appointed bring a diverse range of experience and expertise from business, civil society, unions and academica.

This year also marks 20 years of partnership to combat trafficking in persons between Australia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Australia is working with ASEAN partners to make a real difference to the lives of vulnerable people in our region. Over 10,000 government officials have now been trained to better identify, protect and support victims of trafficking and their families.

Since 2003, Australia has provided more than $160 million in development assistance to ASEAN countries to strengthen criminal justice responses and improve victim protection and support. This includes our current 10-year (2018-2028) $80 million ASEAN-Australia Counter Trafficking program (ASEAN-ACT).

If you or someone you know is a victim of modern slavery, please reach out to one of the below organisations for help. In an emergency, or if a child is concerned, dial 000.

PEOPLE POWER WIN: TOOWOOMBA NORTH SOUTH TRANSPORT CORRIDOR SCRAPPED

Greens welcome news today that the Queensland government has scrapped plans for the deeply unpopular Toowoomba North-South Transport Corridor.

The proposed mega-highway transport route would have had adverse impacts on residents, on endangered wildlife, on First Nations heritage sites and on the environment generally. 

Greens Senator for Queensland Larissa Waters said:

“This announcement is a joyous win for community leaders in Toowoomba, who came together to say “no way” to this home-destroying and bushland-wrecking highway.

“In a cost of living and climate crisis, the Queensland Government should not be wasting billions of taxpayer dollars on an unwanted mega road that would have destroyed so many homes and livelihoods, sacred sites and important koala habitat.

“I’m so proud of the community leaders who led this campaign, and so happy to have taken the time to hear their concerns directly, visited part of the site at risk, and hosted a public meeting about it.

“The proposed mega highway and the mismanagement of the consultation caused the community so much anguish and anxiety. Locals banded together with their neighbours and have shown the undeniable strength of people power.

“I am pleased that the Queensland government will now work with Toowoomba Regional Council to identify alternate transport solutions, and I hope they will conduct the community consultation properly this time – with enough time and genuine options presented to the community and feedback taken on board.

“This new consultation should include consideration of a frequent, accessible and affordable public transport network for Toowoomba, something all regional communities deserve throughout the state.

“Community members and conservation groups have been vindicated by this excellent decision, and I congratulate them on their efforts to build a more livable and connected community for Toowoomba.”

GREENS LAUNCH SENATE INQUIRY INTO SUPERMARKET PRICE GOUGING

The Greens will spearhead a select Senate inquiry into the price gouging of major supermarkets amid Australia’s cost of living crisis.

The inquiry will scrutinise the impact of market concentration on food prices and the pattern of pricing strategies employed by the supermarket duopoly.

It will also assess the rise in essential item prices, the validity of discounts offered, and the inflation of profits during economic hardship.

“Coles and Woolworths are making billions in profits by price gouging in a cost of living crisis,” Greens Economic Justice Spokesperson Senator Nick McKim said.

“For too long the big supermarkets have had too much market power. This allows them to dictate prices and terms that are hitting people hard.”

“It’s time to smash the duopoly.” 

“Coles and Woolworths are making billions in profits because they feel that they can overcharge people without repercussions. It needs to end.”

“We want the CEOs to justify their decisions in a public hearing.”

“This inquiry is a critical step toward dismantling the market concentration that’s led to unfair pricing and stifled competition.”

“We’ll find a way to dismantle their power and bring grocery prices down.”

“It is about ensuring that Australians can afford to eat without being exploited, and that suppliers are treated fairly.” 


Terms of reference:

The price setting practices and market power of major supermarkets, with particular reference to: 

  1. The effect of market concentration and the exercise of corporate power on the price of food and groceries; 
  2. The pattern of price setting between the two major supermarket chains;
  3. Rising supermarket profits and the large increase in price of essential items;
  4. The prevalence of opportunistic pricing, price mark-ups and discounts that aren’t discounts;
  5. The contribution of home brand products to the concentration of corporate power;
  6. The use of technology and automation to extract cost-savings from consumers and employees;
  7. Improvements to the regulatory framework to deliver lower prices for food and groceries; 
  8. Frameworks to protect suppliers when interacting with the major supermarkets, and;
  9. Any other related matters.

Albanese Government must bring urgent legislation to Parliament after botching detainee case

The Albanese Government must act to introduce urgent legislation to the Parliament after the High Court today endorsed preventative detention to protect Australians from the dangerous detainees that have been released into our community.

Leader of the Opposition Peter Dutton and Coalition Shadow Ministers Michaelia Cash, James Paterson and Dan Tehan called on the Government to act immediately to keep the Australian community safe.

The High Court has endorsed exactly the type of response that Peter Dutton has been calling for over the last three weeks, as the Government released more than 140 detainees including pedophiles, rapists, murderers, and a contract killer onto our streets.

The High Court’s reasons for its judgement in the case of the detainee known as NZYQ clearly greenlights a pathway to legislate for preventative detention to protect the community. It falls to the Government now to follow through.

The Government has been saying for two weeks that preventative detention isn’t an option and they’ve been proved wrong today. They should have been ready with preventative detention legislation already.

Questions also arise as to why the Government panicked and urgently released in excess of 140 detainees when the decision clearly applies to the single detainee NZYQ.

The hopeless Minister for Immigration Andrew Giles and hapless Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil should explain to the Australia people why they released each of the other 140 detainees. Both Ministers Giles and O’Neil have shown Australians what amateur hour looks like.

What is also very clear is that the Government botched the handling of this case.

Why did they make concessions in May that NZYQ couldn’t be resettled, but then proceed to make further inquiries in August in an attempt to resettle him?

The Court specifically looked at the last-ditch inquiries made very late in the piece. But because it was left so late in the process it was not reasonable to say whether those inquiries were likely to be successful.

Mr Giles and Ms O’Neil should come clean on why they gave that concession which appears to have set the High Court on a path of no return.

This Government has proved incompetent during every step of this process. We will await their further incompetence to be on display in coming days.

PLIBERSEK MUST ACT NOW TO SAVE SKATE

Today’s announcement by Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek that the future of fish farming in Macquarie Harbour needs to be reviewed is a start, but this acknowledgment will be meaningless if the Minister doesn’t also act immediately to protect the Maugean skate. 

Greens spokesperson for healthy oceans, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson said: 

“Consultation on protecting the Maugean skate should’ve happened years ago but successive federal governments have refused to step in and protect the species.

“Science has identified Macquarie Harbour as naturally low in dissolved oxygen, made worse by industrial salmon farming. 

“We now have a critical moral and political decision to make – is it more important to prevent the avoidable extinction of a species or protect the profits of foreign owned salmon companies?

“The Maugean skate is only found in one place on earth, how sad is it that we are looking at removing the ancient skate from its only known home to allow the farming of an introduced species – Atlantic Salmon. The skate belongs in Macquarie Harbour on Tasmania’s west coast, and Atlantic Salmon belong in the Atlantic.

“While consultation is great it won’t protect the skate this summer. Scientists tell us the Maugean skate is one extreme weather event away from extinction and given predictions for marine heatwaves this summer I urge Minister Plibersek to follow her own departments scientific advice and remove introduced Atlantic salmon from the skates natural environment.”

MORE GENERALS, FEWER TROOPS, AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE LEADERSHIP TOPPLES OVER WITH THE WEIGHT OF GOLD BRAID

Figures compiled for the Greens by the Parliamentary Library show a tremendously top-heavy Australian Defence Force with the number of flag officers almost doubling since 2003 from 119 to 219. 

This means there is a one star level officer for every 260 full-time uniformed members. This is way out of whack with comparable militaries around the world.

The most senior level of officers in the ADF with a ‘star rank’, Generals, Admirals and Air Commodores, have multiplied while enlisted numbers have gone backwards falling from 62,429 in 1983 to 41,079 in 2023.

This is part of a broader trend towards a top-heavy military with the proportion of officers to enlisted members doubling from 14 to 28% between 1983 and 2023. International comparisons on senior pay and numbers are below.

Senator David Shoebridge, Greens Defence Spokesperson, said: 

“When you have so much gold braid and so few troops it feels like a satire, not a military.”

“‘Senior Defence leadership have failed to meet a single recruiting target for the last decade while they have quietly doubled their senior ranks. This is literally rewarding failure. 

“The ADF has a whole lot of people with gold braid bossing around a shrinking group of enlisted members in khaki, blues and whites. It is like the Vatican with dozens of Popes running around decked out in the fanciest regalia for a few hundred priests.

“It is no wonder the military is struggling to find new recruits when there is this bloated and unaccountable leadership class searching for relevance in a shrinking defence force.

“For too long the response from Defence to every national security issue, backed by Liberal and Labor governments, is to stick a star on someone and pump up their paycheck. Every time a new program is announced there is a rush to appoint a fresh admiral, a new general or a shiny air marshall, and it’s always years before we see a new ship, tank or plane.

“If fancy flags kept us safe then Australia would certainly have a world-leading military.” Senator Shoebridge said.

International Comparisons

International comparisons show just how braid-heavy the ADF has become:

  • For every one of the 219 star-ranked officers in the Australian Defence Force, there are just 260 other officers and enlisted members, 
  • For every one of the 863 star-ranked officers in the US military, there are 1,500 other officers and enlisted members,
  • For every one of the 115 star-ranked officers in the UK there are 1,200 other officers and enlisted members.


It’s not just numbers where the Australian military topples over at the top, it’s also on pay.

  • The Australian Chief of Defence Force is paid $1,062,702,
  • The Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff is paid $330,000 AUD,
  • The UK Chief of the Defence Staff is paid $530,000 AUD.