COAG Discussions Focus On Terrorism, Federation And Taxation

The Council of Australian Governments met in Canberra and discussed a range of issues, including terrorism, reform of the Federation and the taxation system.

COAG

The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, held a joint press conference following the meeting. He was accompanied by Premiers Baird, Napthine, Newman, Barnett, Weatherill and Hodgman, as well as the Territory Chief Ministers Gallagher and Giles. Felicity-Ann Lewis represented Local Government.

The State have agreed to introduce legislation to support federal laws covering the arrest, monitoring, investigation and prosecution of domestic extremists and returning foreign fighters.

COAG also agreed that the Federation and Tax Reform White Papers need to progress together. [Read more…]


Premiers Rebel Over Federal Budget Cuts; Demand COAG Meeting Before July 1

The States have rebelled over Federal Government Budget cuts, claiming that the impact will be felt on July 1, and demanding Prime Minister Tony Abbott convene a COAG meeting before then.

Newman

The State Premiers and Territory Chief Ministers met in Sydney today at a meeting called by the Queensland LNP Premier, Campbell Newman. The Western Australian Premier, Colin Barnett, was the only leader not to attend.

Newman said the meeting “firmly and unequivocally rejected” the Budget cuts. The political leaders demanded an urgent meeting of the Council of Australia Governments before July 1. Newman said: “Contrary to what the PM said today, there are immediate impacts to frontline services.”

He said the $180 million cut to hospitals would be felt immediately with about 1200 sub-acute beds being cut in hospitals. “There was a national partnership on preventative health – we all received letters saying that is terminated.” [Read more…]


COAG Agreement On Indigenous Truancy And One-Stop Shops For Projects

The first meeting of the Council of Australian Governments since the election of the Abbott government has taken place in Canberra today.

COAG agreed to tackled indigenous truancy and to cut “green tape” by implementing “one stop shops”.

COAG

State Premiers and Territory Chief Ministers also agreed to sign on to the government’s paid parental scheme.

The meeting also agreed to examine ways to fast-track infrastructure projects.

Speaking at a joint press conference, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said COAG had felt like a “meeting of equals”. He described himself as a “pragmatic federalist” who wanted the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments to get on with dealing with issues in their own jurisdictions. [Read more…]


Anthony Albanese: Driving Productivity Through Infrastructure

The Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese, has outlined the federal government’s approach to infrastructure and productivity in an address to The Sydney Institute.

Albanese

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Transcript of Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese’s speech to The Sydney Institute.

Infrastructure: Driving Productivity

INTRODUCTION

“Productivity isn’t everything, but in the long run it is almost everything.”

So said Paul Krugman in his “The Age of Diminished Expectations”.

It’s no secret that Australia’s overall productivity rate has fallen over the past decade.

There are some who argue that the solution lies totally in industrial relations.

This is ideologically driven.

The fact is that Australia’s labour productivity is in the top dozen of international performers.

As the Australian National University’s Dean Parham pointed out recently, in recent years labour productivity has increased by 3.3 per cent per year.

Whilst this has occurred, capital productivity has actually declined by 4.3 per cent.

So the truth is that addressing productivity requires more than the simplistic slogans of those who would seek to return to WorkChoices under another name. [Read more…]


Full Text Of COAG Communique

This is the full text of the Council of Australian Governments Communique issued after today’s meeting of first ministers in Canberra.

COAG press conference

Full text of the COAG Communique released following today’s meeting of federal, state and territory first ministers.

Council of Australian Governments Meeting – Communiqué

Canberra, 7 December 2012

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) held its 34th meeting in Canberra today, 20 years to the day since its first meeting in Perth in 1992. The Prime Minister, Premiers, Chief Ministers and the President of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) participated in today’s meeting. The Leaders welcomed Northern Territory Chief Minister, the Hon Terry Mills MLA and President of ALGA, Felicity-ann Lewis to their first COAG meeting.

COAG also reiterated its commitment to focus its attention on policy reforms of national significance, and to keep its agenda as streamlined as possible.

National Disability Insurance Scheme

COAG reaffirmed its ongoing commitment to a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) by signing an intergovernmental agreement for its first stage. The agreement provides the foundation for all governments to work together to develop and implement the initial phase of the NDIS. The lessons learned in implementing the first stage will inform governments about proceeding to a full scheme by:

  • setting out shared roles and responsibilities for working collaboratively on the policy for a full scheme;
  • establishing the new Standing Council on Disability Reform, with representation from all jurisdictions, which – from 1 January 2013 – will be responsible for making decisions and formulating advice on matters arising from the launch and related to the transition to a full scheme; and
  • setting in place arrangements for the review and evaluation of the first stage which will inform the transition to a full scheme.

COAG noted the historic agreement between the Commonwealth and New South Wales Governments to establish the full NDIS in New South Wales by 1 July 2018. The Commonwealth noted that it looks forward to concluding agreements on the same terms with all other governments.

In addition, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory signed bilateral agreements with the Commonwealth which confirm the operational and funding details for the roll-out of the NDIS in each launch site. From this time, under the launch arrangements, people with a disability, their families and carers will start to benefit from a fairer, more sustainable and equitable approach to supporting people with disability. Discussions on further launch sites are continuing. [Read more…]


Gillard Claims Progress On NDIS And Power Prices Following COAG Meeting

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has claimed progress on the National Disability Insurance Scheme and reform of the electricity market following today’s meeting of the Council of Australian Governments.

Julia Gillard

Gillard and the state and territory leaders reached agreement to establish a new Standing Council on Disability Reform. Gillard said: “The Agreement provides the foundation for all governments to work together to develop and implement the first stage of these important reforms.”

On electricity market reform, COAG agreed to: rule changes to ensure no over-investment in networks; giving consumers a voice in the electricity market; a strengthened independent regulator; more choice for consumers; actions to reduce electricity peaks; and to provide for greater demand-side participation to make it easier for consumers to reduce demand, particularly at peak periods.

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  • Listen to the COAG leaders’ press conference (46m)

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Earlier in the day, state and territory leaders spoke to the media before attending the COAG meeting.

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Text of media release from Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

COAG Progresses The National Disability Insurance Scheme

At the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in Canberra today, all governments took a major step towards giving people with disability the care and support they need over their lifetimes by signing an Intergovernmental Agreement for the first stage of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

The Agreement provides the foundation for all governments to work together to develop and implement the first stage of these important reforms.

The Agreement also sets out shared roles and responsibilities for working collaboratively on the policy for a full scheme and establishing arrangements for the review and evaluation of the first stage.

The Agreement will be overseen by a new Standing Council on Disability Reform, which will have representation from Ministers and Treasurers from all jurisdictions. The Standing Council will be responsible for making decisions and formulating advice on matters arising from the launch and the transition to a full scheme. [Read more…]


John Brumby Appointed To Chair COAG Reform Council

The former Victorian Labor Premier, John Brumby, has been appointed to chair the COAG Reform Council for the next three years.

John BrumbyBrumby will replace businessman Paul McClintock when he takes up the position in January.

The seven-member council “assists the Council of Australian Governments with its reform agenda”.

It reports to COAG and provides reports on the performance of Australian governments in achieving benchmarks set out in national agreements and partnership arrangements.

A former teacher and teachers’ union official, Brumby, 59, held the federal seat of Bendigo for the ALP from 1983-90. He became Chief of Staff to federal minister Alan Griffiths before being elected to the Victorian Legislative Council in 1993. Later that year he was elected to the Legislative Assembly district of Broadmeadows, replacing the former Labor leader Jim Kennan.

As Opposition Leader, and with Julia Gillard as his Chief of Staff, Brumby lost the 1996 election and was replaced by Steve Bracks in 1999. After the ALP defeated Jeff Kennett’s coalition government later that year, Brumby became Finance Minister before taking over as Treasurer in May 2000. He held that position until Steve Bracks retired in July 2007. Brumby then served as Premier until November 2010 when he was narrowly defeated by Ted Baillieu.

Text of a media release from Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

New Chair Of COAG Reform Council

The Hon John Brumby has been appointed to chair the COAG Reform Council for the next three years.

The COAG Reform Council assists the Council of Australian Governments with its reform agenda. [Read more…]


Gillard Tackles Electricity Prices

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has written to state premiers asking them to prepare for a new national agreement on energy prices by the end of the year.

Julia Gillard

Gillard said power prices have risen unsustainably because of over-investment that has driven up energy costs by 48% in the past four years. “And ordinary businesses and households have been entirely uncompensated for these significant cost increases.”

“Australia needed a carbon price,” Gillard said. “Australia did not need price increases of fifty per cent or more for households over the last four years.” She said the market for supplying energy services in Australia needs to be more efficient.”

The Prime Minister said her preference is to work co-operatively through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG). “We won’t lightly use the big stick of regulation, of stronger powers for the Energy Regulator and the ACCC. But it’s a stick we hold and which we’ll use if required. One way or another, we’re going to get this done.”

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  • Listen to Julia Gillard & Martin Ferguson answer questions (33m)

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Text of Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s speech to the Energy Policy Institute of Australia.

ELECTRICITY PRICES: THE FACTS

Too often the cost of electricity is talked about in two completely separate public conversations.

One conversation is about power bills. There’s a very concrete discussion going on at the kitchen table, in the school carpark and in the front bar, about this.

Power bills have become the new petrol prices: not just an essential of life that always seems to be going up, but a vital commodity, where what we consume each day, or pay every quarter, seems beyond our control.

The other conversation is about energy markets. [Read more…]


As NSW And Victoria Offer NDIS Money, A Political Win For Gillard

5.10pm – New South Wales has joined Victoria in offering to contribute to a trial of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has welcomed the breakthrough.

Julia Gillard

Earlier this afternoon, Premier Ted Baillieu announced that Victoria would contribute $42 million to the trial. Shortly afterwards, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell offered to provide $35 million for a trial, less than the federal government was asking.

Speaking at a 5pm press conference, Gillard said: “I am now very optimistic that we will see NDIS launch sites in NSW and Victoria. We still have work to do with NSW but I’m optimistic. I want to see a robust launch site in the Hunter.”

O’Farrell tweeted: “Testing goodwill – both NSW and Victoria have come halfway and we now hope the Commonwealth will equally show a determination to end the impasse.”

The Victorian and NSW decisions represent an important political win for Gillard that comes after two days of pressure on the coalition premiers.

Nevertheless, the outcome is a tactical victory for Gillard. Whilst ensuring a full-scale trial of the NDIS is now likely in 2013, no decision has been made about ongoing funding.

Newspaper reports today on this week’s COAG meeting said the coalition premiers were willing to support a Medicare-style levy to fund the NDIS. The reports said Gillard rejected this out of fear that Opposition Leader Tony Abbott would mount another “great big new tax” campaign.

Unless Gillard can lock in a decision on funding, the final shape of the scheme will fall to the next government.

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Coalition Premiers Opt Out Of NDIS Trial; COAG Fractures

The political pressure on Prime Minister Julia Gillard stepped up a notch today as the four coalition premiers refused to sign up to a trial of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

Julia Gillard

A meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) fractured with the announcement of three trial sites in the Labor-held jurisdictions of South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT.

The Coalition premiers from New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia all refused accept the federal government’s terms for participation in the trial.

New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell argued that the Commonwealth should fund the whole scheme, whilst Gillard said that $70 million from NSW and $30 million from Victoria would have ensured trial sites in those states.

The political decision of the non-Labor premiers highlights the sense of impermanence that now pervades decisions of the Gillard government.

Criticism of the state coalition governments began immediately after the announcement. Following the parliamentary impasse over asylum seekers, this decision is likely to increase public cynicism and disillusionment about the political process and the hung parliament.

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[Read more…]