States and territories have locked in behind the Morrison government's plan to suppress, not eliminate, the coronavirus, amid rising criticism of the strategy.
National cabinet on Friday recommitted to Australia's plan to tackle the virus. The plan is aimed at flattening the curve instead of completely eradicating the virus, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
Top epidemiologists and virologists have questioned Australia's coronavirus strategy in recent days, as Victoria endures its second lockdown amid rising transmission of cases in the community.
Melbourne University epidemiologist, Professor Tony Blakely, said the country needed to seize the window offered by the second lockdown and eliminate the virus entirely.
"Let's keep going and knock the bugger on the head," Professor Blakely said.
Victoria's chief health officer, Brett Sutton, said pursuing an elimination strategy was "worthy of consideration" once the current outbreak was under control.
However, Mr Morrison said it would be irresponsible to change tack now.
"The goal of that is obviously, and has always been no community transmission. There will always be cases that come because Australia has not completely shut itself off from the world. To do so would be reckless," Mr Morrison said.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told the Press Club on Friday a strict elimination strategy would "cripple our economy and require us to shut down many more sectors and not allow anyone to enter the country".
"Treasury, using OECD estimates of the economic impact of full lock downs, suggests a six-week Australia-wide hard lock down could reduce GDP by around $50 billion. This is what is at stake," Mr Frydenberg said.
"In contrast, we've shown that an aggressive suppression strategy, targeting low or no community transmission can be effective - when implemented well. We have already seen this occur in seven of our eight states and territories."
However, National Cabinet has agreed to strengthen the suppression strategy, off the back of a recommendation from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee.
The goal would be to have no transmission of COVID-19 in the community, with restrictions able to be eased in places with no outbreaks.
However, the strategy would rely on a strict commitment to hand washing and social distancing, testing for and tracing cases and continuing limits on gathering sizes and movement.
Acting chief medical officer Paul Kelly said the Victorian outbreak and NSW clusters showed "how aggressively we need to chase down every case, every day, to ensure that they are isolated, to make sure that the contacts of every case are also contacted themselves, and where necessary, be tested and isolate as soon as possible".
"That is crucial component of our public health response. It has been from the beginning. And what has happened in Victoria over the last few weeks has demonstrated, firstly how difficult that is, and also when you get a large number of cases, that really exacerbates it. But that is the crucial component that we need to stress and everyone at National Cabinet agreed to that," Professor Kelly said.
National Cabinet also signed off on plans to move to a single touch approval process under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
Under the proposal, states would carry out the environmental approvals for major projects, rather than the Commonwealth.
The plan has drawn criticism from environmental groups, who say state environmental standards are weaker than federal protections.
Mr Morrison said Queensland and Western Australia were particularly enthusiastic about the plan, but all states and territories wanted to be "first movers" on it.
"I think what that demonstrates is the states and territories and Commonwealth want to get on with it," Mr Morrison said.
"We want to create jobs. We want to get projects happening. We want to remove the impediments that are unnecessarily preventing investment and development from taking place."