Ensuring we remain well prepared to manage coronavirus, as a state and nation was a significant priority at COAG.
Joining other Premiers, First Ministers and the Prime Minister yesterday, a key agreement was to establish a new National Cabinet, comprising the Prime Minister, Premiers and First Ministers, to work together to address Australia’s response to COVID-19. The National Cabinet will have its first meeting tomorrow.
The new National Partnership Agreement on COVID-19 Response, was also signed by all leaders, which is a 50-50 shared funding deal between the Commonwealth and the states and territories that will ensure the capacity of our health system to effectively assess, diagnose and treat people with coronavirus in a way that minimises the spread of the virus in the community and protects our most vulnerable.
Based on the expert medical advice of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), Commonwealth, State and Territory governments, we also agreed there should not be non-essential, organised public gatherings of more than 500 people from Monday 16 March 2020. This is a precautionary move designed to reduce community transmission of COVID-19 in Australia.
In addition, the DFAT Smartraveller travel advice for all Australians travelling overseas has been upgraded to level 3 ‘reconsider your need for overseas travel at this time.’
It was agreed that regardless of your destination, age or health, if your overseas travel is not essential, you should consider carefully whether now is the right time.
I want to reassure Tasmanians, the health and wellbeing of our community is paramount and our health system is well prepared to scale up as further cases of coronavirus arise.
I welcome the Commonwealth’s stimulus package, which will provide support to Tasmanians and our businesses and further measures will be announced next week that are proportionate, and scalable to leverage off the Australian Governments package.
COAG was also an opportunity to address other critical focus areas, including the devastating bushfires which occurred this summer.
While Tasmania did not suffer to the extent of other states and territories, we have implemented nation leading mitigation programs and I was pleased COAG leaders adopted my recommendation that further work needs to be done with regard to bushfire resilience and preparedness.
As a result of this CSIRO has been requested to undertake further work to ensure as a nation the right work is being undertaken to keep Australians safer from bushfire.
The review will look to streamline processes where possible, with agreement that Australians impacted by the same disaster, in the same way, should have equitable access to recovery assistance, irrespective of what side of the border they are on, and be treated consistently and fairly.
The review will be discussed at the next COAG meeting in July.