COAG Update: National response to COVID-19

March 16, 2020

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) held its 48th meeting on Friday 13 March, with the Prime Minister and premiers of the states and territories discussing Australia’s response to coronavirus and the recovery from this summer’s bushfires, as well as a range of existing COAG priorities.

At the meeting, the National Partnership Agreement on COVID-19 Response was signed by the chief ministers, bringing a range of payments between the Commonwealth Government and the states and territories into play. It consists of an upfront payment of $100 million to the states, paid on a population share basis; a commitment that the Commonwealth will contribute 50 per cent to the costs of diagnosing and treating patients with COVD-19, and for other costs for activity undertaken by State public health systems for the management of the outbreak. This portion is in addition to public health funding provided through the National Health Reform Agreement.

Other initiatives that were agreed to include elevating advice given by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee to have the same status as advice from COAG. Given that the AHPPC consists of state and territory Chief Health Officers, this is an elevation of the advice that Australia’s health bureaucracies can give as the country responds to the coronavirus pandemic.

Other key outcomes from the meeting included an agreement to implement of the National Bushfire Recovery Plan, to elevate the Women’s Safety Ministers’ meeting to form a new COAG council, and other initiatives related to the drought response and a ban on the export of waste plastic, paper glass and tyres.

The full COAG communique is available here.