National Cabinet: energy crisis, health funding with premiers, chief ministers

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The country’s most powerful leaders will meet at National Cabinet on Friday to chart a path through the unfolding energy crisis.

Health and the unfolding energy crisis will be high on the priority list as Australia’s most powerful leaders gather in the same room on Friday.

In his first National Cabinet, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will on Friday meet with all state and territory leaders, following an informal dinner at The Lodge on Thursday night.

High on the agenda will be the unfolding power crisis, given the Commonwealth has been working closely with states and territories, as well as the Australian Energy Market Operator, to avoid blackouts.

Ageing coal-fired power stations, combined with a global gas shortage and a “failure” of the previous government to invest enough in the renewable transmission has left the country’s energy market vulnerable.

The AEMO made the unprecedented move earlier this week of scrapping the market, making it compulsory for generators to feed their supply into the system to avoid power shortages.

Despite that, Energy Minister Chris Bowen had on Thursday called for NSW residents to avoid running unnecessary appliances in an attempt to avoid load shedding and blackouts.

South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas called for the domestic gas reservation systems in Western Australia – which is not connected to the rest of the country’s electricity grid – to be closely examined.

“I think we should be looking to WA to see how their energy needs are being met, when they’re not connected to the national electricity market,” he said.

“They have a domestic gas reservation policy and the skies aren’t falling in. In fact, arguably, they’re in a better position than the rest of the country.”

State premiers have also flagged they want the meeting to focus on the Commonwealth’s funding of health systems and easing pressure on hospitals.

The previous Morrison government committed to a 50-50 agreement for pandemic health costs, with that commitment set to expire in September.

States and territories want this extended, but have also signalled they want a complete overhaul of health funding to take pressure off the nation’s struggling health systems.

“Now is not the time, in our view, for the Commonwealth to be diminishing their support in terms of hospital funding,” Mr Malinauskas said.

“We’ve got a problem with healthcare service delivery, and it’s out of the control of the states, so we need to work collaboratively with the Commonwealth.”

Mr Albanese had on Thursday flagged possible changes to the design of the National Cabinet, including potentially involving local council.

Originally published as Energy crisis, health funding to dominate Anthony Albanese’s first National Cabinet

Read related topics:Anthony Albanese

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