Chief Minister Andrew Barr has echoed NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s calls for COAG reforms, saying that more regular meetings should be scheduled once the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
Both leaders also flagged the need for economic reform and expansion to help the nation recover from coronavirus, and encouraging foreign investment in Australia as opposed to the struggling UK or US.
The Coalition of Australian Governments, or COAG, is a twice-annual meeting of the Prime Minister and state and territory First Ministers but can meet up to four times a year when needed.
The calls for COAG reform come a few day’s after Premier Berejiklian called the intergovernmental body “clumsy, overly bureaucratic and mired in red tape”.
“I think National Cabinet has really empowered us as leaders to take things forward in a considered and a very timely way without getting bogged down in the red tape that can often hang around these processes,” she told Sky News on Sunday night (17 May).
It is a sentiment that is shared by the Chief Minister.
“COAG can be improved by more regular meetings that have a shared purpose,” Mr Barr told Region Media.
“The National Cabinet has worked well in managing Australia’s COVID-19 response. The next phase of work should be managing the economic recovery. Our focus will need to be on job creation and infrastructure.”
National Cabinet was meeting three times a week during the peak of the pandemic but is now moving to meet fortnightly, with space to meet weekly if necessary.
The successful implementation of policies and discussions coming out of National Cabinet on the more frequent timetable throughout the pandemic should be extended to Australian economic reform, Ms Berejiklian said.
“Our federation is ripe for economic reform,” she said.
“Our federation has not changed in decades and our federation assumes our states have the same population, the same economic diversity, which we do not.
“This process has really, I think, highlighted that. The National Cabinet has demonstrated what can be achieved.”
When asked if Canberra would follow the same path as Sydney looking to invite private capital into the city as a safer alternative to UK or US markets still struggling with COVID-19 outbreaks, Mr Barr referred Region Media to Invest Canberra.
Invest Canberra lobbies private capital to invest in the Territory by “identifying business opportunities and … providing research and specialist knowledge of Canberra and its local market conditions and growth opportunities”.
Mr Barr said Invest Canberra is already looking to attract more investment into the ACT.
“The ACT Government’s Investment Attraction and Facilitation Team is dedicated to growing an already competitive and sustainable ACT economy,” he said.
“Our free and impartial services open doors for businesses and help drive investment further by providing intelligence on the local market, fostering business connections and offering support through the investment decision and execution process.”