COAG: No GST Increase As Leaders Agree To Action On Domestic Violence, Ice And Terror

11/12/2015 5:13 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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Fairfax Media/Alex Ellinghausen

A national domestic violence order scheme, moves toward indefinite detention for convicted terrorists, a national 'ice' strategy and no increase to the GST were the main take-homes as the COAG heads of government meeting wrapped up in Sydney.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull met his state and territory counterparts on Friday in the 41st Council of Australian Governments summit, with tax reform, health and domestic violence high on the agenda. Despite the Sydney Morning Herald revealing leaked COAG documents had outlined the possibility of increases to the Goods and Services Tax, there was no mention of any rise in the GST but instead a commitment to investigating "a full range of Commonwealth and state tax and revenue sharing options" and a reiteration of the commitment "to keeping taxes as low as possible".

Turnbull, the premiers and chief ministers agreed to a suite of long and short-term domestic violence reforms -- including actions to limit "technology-facilitated abuse", a national domestic violence order scheme and a comprehensive national information sharing system for police and courts -- and set a new goal of 95 percent enrolment of indigenous children in early childhood education by 2025, but it will be the anti-terror agreements outlining detention before and indefinite periods of detention after court-imposed jail terms for high-risk terror offenders.

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"We've agreed to prioritise the work NSW has been leading to develop nationally consistent legislation on pre-charge detention, consistent with the recommendations of the Australia-New Zealand counter-terrorism committee," Turnbull told media after the meeting wrapped up.

"We've also agreed, and I thank the leaders for agreeing with a proposal I brought to them this week, to develop a nationally consistent post-sentence preventative detention scheme, which would enable a continuing period of imprisonment for high-risk terrorist offenders. This would be consistent with the arrangements that apply in a number of jurisdictions for sex offenders and extremely violent criminals."

Turnbull said the pre-sentence scheme may run into constitutional issues, but post-sentence detention should be a smoother process to implement.

"There are some constitutional impediments to the Commonwealth government legislating for pre-charge detention for the period our security services believe is necessary or appropriate... we'll be working together collaboratively to do that," he said.

"[Post-sentence detention] is a court supervised process, well understood by the law and its constitutionality has been dealt with."

In addition to backing a national system for domestic violence orders and increased ability for the justice system to keep track of offenders, leaders also agreed to a national summit on family violence towards the end of 2016.

"We've agreed to a range of measures that will be uniform across the country to ensure court interventions against perpetrators are effective. We've agreed on actions to limit abuse on smartphones and over the internet," Turnbull said.

He did not detail what these actions would include.

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk -- the only woman on a table of nine men at the leader's press conference -- outlined what the summit would entail and praised the fact that all the other premiers, chief ministers and the Prime Minister were men, saying the gender imbalance was an advantage in tackling domestic violence.

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Annastacia Palaszczuk (second from left)

"We'll look at consistency across jurisdictions when it comes to domestic violence orders. There's a lot of good work happening in different states. What we need to do when we have this summit is bring the stakeholders together but also streamline what's working well and what can actually work at a national level," she said.

"We're in a very unique situation here where we have very strong male premiers and a Prime Minister prepared to take a stand against domestic and family violence. That's what we need, very good men out there being role models for younger men coming through, standing up and saying domestic and family violence should not occur."

The leaders agreed to the National Ice Action Strategy, while South Australia and Tasmania signed National Disability Insurance Scheme transition agreements.

Also agreed upon was a commitment to further investigate a number of reforms to consider at the first COAG meeting in 2016, including;

  • a long term vision for health reform;
  • a commitment for all children, in the year before entering primary school, to access 15 hours of preschool education per week
  • and school reforms, with a focus on enhancing science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) capabilities

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