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