“Each and every state and territory represented here is completely sovereign and autonomous in the decisions they make, but what we have agreed to do together is to work together and be unified and as consistent and coordinated as possible in our national response,” Mr Morrison said on Friday afternoon.
The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee will advise the group on health responses, which could involve sharing of resources. The AHPPC is chaired by Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy and includes state and territory chief health officers.
“There are many others who will be advising through to the group on other matters I’ve referred to, but that’s the medical advice, the best medical advice, which will be the basis of the protocols, guidelines and decisions which will be made by premiers, chief ministers and of course myself as Prime Minister together with our respective cabinets,” Mr Morrison said.
A War Cabinet was created in 1939 created under the Menzies Government with members of the federal opposition included, however it did not include state and territory leaders. This is the first time a “national cabinet” has been formed with non-federal MPs.
University of Sydney academic and constitutional lawyer Anne Twomey said there would not be any legal implications of the new arrangement as it would not give any additional powers to different arms of government.
The Commonwealth and the Premiers discuss matters at conferences, COAG meetings and treaties councils, among other meetings.
“It is just a cooperative body that has been re-badged for the occasion, presumably as an indicator of collective leadership and the gravity of the situation,” she said.