In other words, the framework is merely a menu. Victorians are likely to discover the meal they want is not available in their state even when it is ready to be served in Queensland.
One size does not fit all in a country as big as Australia. The argument for state and territory sovereignty is the coronavirus case numbers are different in every jurisdiction, although this is true only up to a point. The trend is incredibly positive in every location, yet the rules are different on matters as minor as fishing and golf.
Premiers and chief ministers knew the framework would be announced on Friday after weeks of planning, yet they could not reach agreement on big barriers like the Queensland border controls on NSW.
And for all that planning, Victorian premier Daniel Andrews and NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian will take a few more days to tell voters what the framework means in practice.
Australia’s success against COVID-19 is a tribute to the work of the national cabinet but the coordination is slipping.
Morrison formed the group to try to unify the response to the coronavirus and now finds this was much easier on the way into the crisis than the way out. While biosecurity laws can be used very quickly to shut down an activity, they cannot force a premier to open it up again.
For all the talk of a new level of cooperation in national cabinet, the limits of the federation still apply. At least the framework puts the onus on state and territory leaders to be as consistent as possible as they ease the restrictions.
It is up to the premiers and chief ministers to get it right. While Morrison wants to restart the economy, the controls are out of his hands.