JSB178 Week Ten Lecture Notes
Coordination and Cabinet
Central agencies coordinate the operation of all other agencies.
They have policy, financial and administrative responsibilities.
Central agencies must check that proposals:
Are logical and well considered.
Are consistent with other government announcements and programs.
Are consistent with government policy.
Are consistent with intergovernmental and international obligations.
Meet cabinet guidelines.
Have no presentational problems.
Are suitably timed.
Central agencies must ensure that:
The money requested is really needed.
The initiative is cost-effective.
The right priorities are met.
The overall budget is not exceeded.
There are not hidden traps likely to require sudden increases in funding.
Central agencies must report on implication for:
Public sector employment.
Impacts on target groups.
Equity and fairness considerations.
How does coordination occur?
Most major decisions are made through inter-departmental committees which will include central agency
Less important decisions must still receive scrutiny from central agencies.
The cabinet process ensures that all agencies have the opportunity to comment on the implications of a
proposal to their own policy area or operations.
Benefits of coordination
Better control of policy development for the government.
Reduces inter-agency rivalry and silo culture.
Reduces the chances of rogue action by individual ministers or agencies.
Theoretically better decisions as all issues are raised and addressed.
Better strategic management of resources and time as all actions can be brought under one plan.
Deficits of coordination
It is a slow and cumbersome process.
The original intentions of a policy can be lost in the process of building a consensus between agencies.
The impact of a policy can be watered down through consultation. The Cabinet Handbook
The Constitution of Queensland 2001 provides that:
There must be a cabinet consisting of a Premier and a number of other Ministers.
Cabinet is collectively responsible to the Parliament of Queensland.
The Queensland Cabinet Handbook [The Handbook] outlines the procedures and conventions for the
operation of the Queensland Cabinet and its support processes.
These procedures and conventions encompass the entire Cabinet process through preparation, lodgement
and consideration of Cabinet business, as well as ongoing administrative aspects of the maintenance of
We will only be dealing with the process of submission and decision in this unit.
Fundamental Cabinet Principles
Cabinet is responsible for the development and coordination of the policies of the government.
The collective responsibility of Ministers for government decisions requires collective adherence to all
government decisions made in Cabinet. Cabinet decisions reflect collective deliberation and are binding on
Cabinet Ministers as government policy.
Consultation is an essential element of the Cabinet process.
The deliberations of Cabinet and Cabinet Committees shall be conducted in a secure and confidential
environment, and that ongoing confidentiality of Cabinet and related records shall be maintained.
Preparation of business to be considered by Cabinet is of the highest standard reflecting the information
needs of Ministers, to ensure informed decision-making can occur in accordance with the public interest.
Cabinet proposals reflect a rigorous examination of issues, whole of government coordination and accord
with government policy.
Cabinet processes are established by the Premier to ensure all Ministers are bound by the same rules and by
high standards of probity.
Cabinet collectively, and Ministers individually, are responsible and accountable to the Crown, the
Parliament, and ultimately the electorate.
Cabinet's decisions are given formal effect through Acts of the Parliament, actions of the Executive Council
or the executive powers held by Ministers for the administration of their portfolios.
The Premier presides over all Cabinet meetings. Ministers are expected to attend every meeting or provide
the Premier with reasons for being unable to attend.
Cabinet is responsible for the performance of the government.
o Each Minister acts jointly with and on behalf of Cabinet colleagues in their capacity as Ministers. Not
only does this ensure collective responsibility, but it also enhances collective adherence to all
decisions made in Cabinet.
o Cabinet decisions reflect collective conclusions and are binding on all Ministers as government
o If a Minister is unable to publicly support a Cabinet decision, the proper course is to resign from
o All Ministers are required to give their support in public debate to collective decisions of the Cabinet
and the government.
Ministers will normally receive copies of all Cabinet documents at least five days in advance of a meeting so
they may be aware of the business coming to Cabinet.
Ministers should ensure there is no announcement of policy initiatives or expenditure commitments which
have not been given Cabinet authority or, where appropriate, Governor in Council approval.
Ministers should seek the approval of the Premier before making public statements or comment on
proposals that they are bringing to Cabinet. Advocacy in public of a particular proposal could otherwise tend
to pre-empt Cabinet deliberations. Identification of individual Ministers with particular views tends to call
into question the collective basis of agreed outcomes.
It is inappropriate for Ministers to accept invitations to speak or to comment publicly on matters outside
their portfolio area without the prior approval of the Premier, and then always reflect the collective view of
Cabinet. Departmental officers and Ministerial staff have a responsibility to act in support of Ministers' obligations to
abide by Cabinet conventions and a responsibility to advise Ministers of any case where they may perceive a
breach, or a likely breach, of these conventions.
Freedom of Information and Cabinet Secrecy
Freedom of Information Act 1992, s.36 Cabinet matter
Documents, drafts of documents, or copies of either, are exempt matter (that is, the government does not
have to release it) if—
o it has been submitted to Cabinet; or
o it was prepared for submission to Cabinet; or
o it was prepared for briefing, or the use of, a Minister or chief executive in relation to a matter
submitted to Cabinet or proposed for submission.
o it is part of an official record of Cabinet; or
o its disclosure would involve the disclosure of any consideration of Cabinet or could otherwise
prejudice the confidentiality of Cabinet; or
UNLESS the material has been officially published by decision of Cabinet.
Effectively a government could exclude any material from FOI by “submitting” it to Cabinet – wheeling it
through the Cabinet room.
Right to Information Act 2009