The Australian Local Government Association will be a member of the National Federation Reform Council (NFRC) and will continue to be involved in relevant meetings and national bodies.
However, nearly two dozen former COAG councils and ministerial forums will be disbanded under new streamlined intergovernmental structures revealed last week.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison outlined the new arrangements last week, saying National Cabinet had accepted all 33 recommendations of the Review of COAG Councils and Ministerial Forums conducted by former Commonwealth Cabinet Secretary Peter Conran.
Mr Conran’s review followed Mr Morrison’s announcement last May that the Council of Australian Governments – of which ALGA was a founding member – would be scrapped and replaced with an expanded National Cabinet.
The NFRC will comprise ALGA, the Council of Federal Financial Relations (made up of federal and state treasurers) and National Cabinet – and will meet annually.
The Joint Council on Closing the Gap – in which ALGA also participates – will continue as a national body under the new arrangements announced last week.
Under the new intergovernmental arrangements, first ministers with portfolio responsibilities for disability reform, data and digital, education, energy, environment, health, infrastructure and transport, skills, and the Murray-Darling Basin will continue meeting regularly.
However, 23 formal ministerial forums – including the Housing and Homelessness Ministers’ Meeting, the Cultural Ministers’ Meeting, and the Tourism Ministers’ Meeting – are being disbanded.
There is scope for these to meet to “consider one-off issues”.
Nine ministerial forums — including meetings of Planning, Building, Community Services, Agriculture and Australian and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministers (among others) – will convene only for specific tasks.
To manage emerging priorities requiring strategic intergovernmental collaboration, National Cabinet will consider how best to deal with emergency management from a coordinated national perspective, with Mr Conran’s review noting that “the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements has been asked to deliver its final report and recommendations at the end of October”.
Mr Morrison said in a statement that “reducing the number of ministerial forums [will ensure] that those that remain are more agile and responsive.
“This represents a significant reform to Commonwealth-State relations and will significantly reduce bureaucracy and red tape,” he said.