Albanese went into national cabinet with Australia engulfed in an energy crisis. But the premiers came with other concerns

Anthony Albanese is fast realizing Paul Keating wasn’t joking when he warned that you should “never get between a premier and a bucket of money”.

He’s also quickly realizing state parochialism trumps party loyalty.

“I will not settle for this Commonwealth government proceeding with Scott Morrison’s cutbacks,” Victorian Premier Dan Andrews warned ahead of yesterday’s national cabinet meeting — Albanese’s first as prime minister.

The meeting took place as the bulk of the nation faced ongoing uncertainty about whether it will be able to turn the heating on at night.

The energy grid is failing and requiring extraordinary intervention to keep the lights in the most populous cities.

But the premiers and chief ministers had other thoughts on their mind when they traveled to Canberra to meet the new prime minister.

Their hospitals are being overwhelmed with COVID patients. Hospital beds are full and the public system is buckling under the pressure.

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Anthony Albanese agrees to extend COVID funding following first national cabinet

Whether Liberal or Labor, the leaders arrived united in wanting a pandemic-funding agreement to continue.

That health is on their minds is also a reminder that there is no easy fix to the energy crisis that’s engulfing everywhere except Western Australia.

Getting a health check from the feds is much easier to solve.

The premiers have been emboldened

The pandemic might have changed health funding, forcing the Commonwealth to contribute more to the states, but it also changed how premiers and chief ministers behave.

They’ve been emboldened and rewarded by voters for putting their state’s interests above the nation.

The creation of national cabinet, a Scott Morrison invention to overhaul the former Council of Australian Governments, put the premiers on the same platform as the prime minister and they haven’t looked back since.

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