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A Blueprint for the National Cabinet

The National Cabinet has the potential to solve some of the most intractable challenges facing Australia. The Blueprint Institute commends Prime Minister Morrison and the State Premiers for committing to it for the long term.

The Australian people are on the same page as our national leaders and have high hopes for a new era of cooperation in politics. Key results of polling conducted by Blueprint Institute include: 

  • An overwhelming 89% of Australians support the continuation of National Cabinet post COVID-19, with this number increasing to 90% for Greens, 91% for Labor and 93% amongst Coalition voters (77% One Nation, 79% Other). 
  • 60 per cent of Australians believe the National Cabinet is an example of effective policy collaboration, with this number jumping to 71% of Coalition voters.  Interestingly, this number drops to 57% Labor and 50% for Greens
  • Australians thought that National Cabinet should prioritise;
    • tackling environmental problems like drought, water management and climate change (58 per cent) 
    • improving the health system (57 per cent) 
    • creating jobs in the short term (55 per cent) 
  • Coalition voters were the most likely voter group to support the National Cabinet working to reform the energy system to coordinate efforts on electricity prices and carbon emissions.
  • 68 per cent of Australians identified increasing Australian manufacturing using new technologies as key to the COVID-19 economic recovery. This points to a strong desire to move towards advanced manufacturing as part of the COVID-19 response.
  • 83 per cent of Australians believe that developing more manufacturing in regional Australia should be one of the top three actions for the government to take in creating new jobs and economic growth. 
  • 88 per cent of Australians (94% Labor and 79% Coalition voters) would support investment in renewables to promote post-COVID recovery (as opposed to fossil fuels) 
  • 73% of Australians agreed that a strong economy is not important without a healthy environment (Labor 77%; Coalition 61%) 

Blueprint Institute will address a number of these issues throughout our research over the coming months. This paper will focus on the genesis of the National Cabinet, elements that have helped make it successful, and how it can continue to fulfil the expectations of the Australian public during the COVID-19 recovery. 

To deliver on its potential, the National Cabinet needs four key ingredients: 

  • Embrace the vision of Federation as a flexible and agile system of governance
  • Ongoing collaboration across levels of government
  • Prioritising inter-jurisdictional reform
  • Evidence-based decision-making and involvement of experts 

Along with a “laser-like” focus on job creation, the National Cabinet is to be tasked with overseeing reform in key areas: the needs of rural and regional Australia, skills, energy, transportation, housing, transport and infrastructure, population and migration, and health. Within these areas, and strongly supported by our polling findings, the Blueprint Institute recommends the National Cabinet put the following issues at the top of their to-do list: 

  • Reducing regulation on small businesses so they can invest and grow.
  • Moving towards a national consensus on energy and environment policy that reduces power prices and emissions while stimulating investment and jobs in renewable energy.
  • Investigating opportunities for regional economic development, with a particular focus on advanced manufacturing and improving national resilience to shocks (such as pharmaceuticals, medical supplies and water/food security). 
  • Increasing technology and innovation funding to drive entrepreneurial activity and encourage long term growth and job creation.
  • Reforming the vocational, secondary and tertiary education system to improve the quality of our workforce, better connect skills with industry, and increase the long term viability of our training systems.

Together, a coordinated response on these issues will boost economic growth, create jobs and contribute to a more sustainable future for Australia. It will also align the National Cabinet’s activity with the expectations of the Australian public, who are supportive of the National Cabinet but expect continued progress in key policy areas affecting the nation. Blueprint Institute will outline an approach for the National Cabinet to consider in each of these areas in subsequent releases.

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