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Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s National Cabinet Press Conference: An Evolving Federation

Prime Minister Scott Morrison held a press conference in Canberra today, following a video meeting of the National Cabinet.

In a statement that was both declarative and inspecific, Morrison said that the National Cabinet sought to find a way through the pandemic lockdowns to opening up the economy. “So, we agreed today seven out of eight states and territories, we agreed that before you know what you’re going to do, you’ve got to agree about where you want to get to. And we agreed today with the objective that was set out in the May plan to be at the end of that step three process, which we will seek to ensure is even better defined.”

Morrison also the National Cabinet had to evolve. “So, we’ve decided that this notion of 100 percent, absolute consensus on any issue is not a way that the National Cabinet can indeed work. And so what we will do is we will set out areas where we can come together, and get as many states and territories as possible to come around that agreement. Not everyone has to get on the bus for the bus to leave the station. But it is important the bus leaves the station, and we all agree on that. We all agree on that. Even when, on occasions, some might not want to get on, they know we need to keep moving forward and that is supported, and that’s what we agreed to do today. And I think that is a change in the way our Federation works.”

The National Cabinet is still grappling with the definition of a pandemic “hotspot”. The states have indicated they will not budge on their previous decisions on closing border crossings.

Watch Morrison’s press conference (46m):

Listen to Morrison’s press conference (46m):

Transcript of press conference with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Acting Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly.

PRIME MINISTER SCOTT MORRISON: Good afternoon. Australia is something we can never take for granted. And I’m not talking about Uluru or the Great Barrier Reef or the Opera House or the great wilderness across our country, I’m talking about us. I’m talking about our Federation. I’m talking about who we are as a nation. And in every generation, we must continue to define who we are, how we make Australia work, what we hope to achieve, how we protect it, how we make it stronger. And our Federation, some almost 120 years later, remains a happy work in progress. Sometimes it doesn’t feel that happy, but I tell you, the goal is one that I think all Australians would share and that’s what brings a smile to our face when we think of Australia. Not just the place, as wonderful it is, but how we make Australia work. And that is the task of all of those who come and meet in this place, in our Federal Parliament, but it is also the job of all of those who come together in our state parliaments, those who form governments and seek to work together in the ways that our Federation intended. [Read more…]