Cooperative Federalism, Soft Governance and Hard Laws in Australia’s State of Emergency

To date, in Australia, there have been over 5,350 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 26 deaths and over 275,000 tests conducted. The majority of the confirmed cases were acquired overseas. Australia is a Federation with a national government and state and territory governments. This adds complexity to responding to a national crisis. So far, Australia’s response has been characterised by cooperative federalism, at least nominally, primarily through a newly formed National Cabinet. There has been a staged ratcheting up of border controls and executive powers to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19, and a ‘hibernation’ approach to the conduct of business and exercise of fundamental rights. In this post, we discuss the governance model through the National Cabinet, the hard law response at Federal and State and Territory level and the extensive economic interventions.

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