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    3.1 Cabinet Committees

    Cabinet Committees underpin the operation of normal Cabinet by providing a suitable forum, with Cabinet stature, to deliberate on more complex issues requiring dedicated and longer term attention by stakeholder Ministers. The Premier or Cabinet may establish Cabinet Committees as well as determine Committee membership and terms of reference.

    Committees are provided with an official title and may make recommendations to the full Cabinet. Two types of Cabinet Committees may be established:

    • Standing Committees which deal with long-term and cross-portfolio issues requiring detailed consideration and coordination prior to Cabinet approval of particular proposals. Standing Committees may be supported by officials from relevant agencies as necessary, dependent on the issue being considered; and
    • Special Purpose Committees which are functional Committees established from time to time to consider matters of particular concern to the Premier or the Cabinet according to defined terms of reference. Special Purpose Committees have a flexible structure and may be supported by advisors drawn from the private or public sector or the legislature. Such Committees assist Cabinet by considering matters of detail while also allowing the co-opting of a range of skills to the Cabinet decision-making process.

    The Cabinet Secretariat provides secretarial and support services to Cabinet Committees similar to a full meeting of Cabinet and accordingly enquiries concerning Committee meetings should be directed to the Secretariat.

    As with normal Cabinet, the CLLOs play a pivotal role in coordinating Cabinet Committee information within their respective agencies. Refer to Chapter 2.5 for further information on the role of the CLLOs.

    The preparation of submissions for Cabinet Committees is essentially the same as for Cabinet submissions with only minor variation. Refer to Chapter 5 "Preparation of submissions".

    3.1.1 Membership

    Committee membership is only open to members of Cabinet and, with the exception of the Cabinet Budget Review Committee (CBRC), to Assistant Ministers.

    Assistant Ministers may be members of committees (other than CBRC) either as a representative or proxy of a minister who is a member or as a member in their own right where they hold relevant responsibilities (and subject to Cabinet approval of their membership).

    Other stakeholder Ministers who are not designated Committee members may attend (on the approval of the Premier) to assist in Committee deliberations, however decision-making remains the prerogative of the Committee members only. The Premier or Cabinet also may appoint officials to assist Committees.

    Cabinet Budget Review Committee

    The Cabinet Budget Review Committee (CBRC) has a primary role of considering matters with financial or budgetary implications for the government.

    It has a membership of four Ministers, with the Premier and Treasurer as standing members along with two rotational senior Ministers occupying the positions for generally one year. At the conclusion of the term for the rotational members, the Premier will seek expressions of interest from other Ministers and decide on the new members.

    Excepting the Premier as Chair of CBRC, the Committee may still deliberate in the absence of member Ministers. Another Minister or an official may not deputise for a member Minister in their absence.

    3.1.2 Cabinet Budget Review Committee meeting scheduling, business list and briefing information

    As Chair of CBRC, the Premier will schedule meetings and decide on the business to be considered. As opposed to Cabinet, CBRC meetings are not scheduled on a regular basis, but according to the nature and priority of issues on hand. By virtue of the flying minute process as described in Chapter 3.1.4, an in-session meeting may not be deemed necessary by the Premier for an issue.

    The Premier will determine whether proposed business will be handled via flying minute or in-session meeting, in conjunction with determining the business list for Cabinet for the following week. In making this determination the Premier is assisted by briefing information provided from the Department of the Premier and Cabinet and the Treasury Department on all submissions, and by the Department of Justice and Attorney-General, Division of Public Sector Industrial and Employee Relations on industrial relations issues.

    Briefing information is sought on all submissions at both first lodgement and at final lodgement stages similar to Cabinet submissions. However, the CBRC process differs from Cabinet in that briefing information on final submissions is sought prior to the Premier's determination on how submissions will be handled, and their priority relative to other CBRC business. Briefing information is integral to this process.

    For the purpose of contributing to open and informed deliberations on submissions at in-session meetings or via flying minutes, briefing information is circulated to CBRC members. For in-session meetings, relevant briefing information is also circulated to Ministers who will be attending the meeting during consideration of their submission.

    3.1.3 Circulation of submissions to Committee members

    The Cabinet Secretariat distributes Committee submissions in the same way as Cabinet submissions, commensurate with the security classification pertaining to each document. Refer to Chapter 5.2 "Security classifications on Cabinet submissions".

    3.1.4 Use of flying minutes

    At the discretion of the Premier, submissions may be circulated as flying minutes to member Ministers to consider individually, rather than at an in-session CBRC meeting. Generally, flying minutes will be circulated on less contentious issues and where policy advice indicates unqualified support. Matters without agreement may be considered at a meeting at which the sponsoring Minister will be invited to attend.

    The flying minute process is an important tool used by CBRC to make optimal use of member Ministers' time. The process enables focussed and dedicated deliberation of more complex and difficult issues than at in-session meetings.

    If member Ministers do not unanimously approve the recommendations contained in a submission circulated as a flying minute, then the Premier may decide to schedule the matter for resolution at an in-session meeting.

    3.1.5 Minutes and decisions of meetings

    Minutes of Cabinet Committee meetings are recorded by an officer of the Cabinet Secretariat and distributed to members of the Committee only.

    Decisions will also be prepared by the Cabinet Secretariat and circulated to Ministerial and Chief Executive Officer stakeholders, as appropriate, in the same way as Cabinet decisions. Refer to Chapter 4.12 "Cabinet decisions".

    3.1.6 Handling, filing and storage of Cabinet Committee documents

    Cabinet Committee information has the same status as Cabinet information and similar security measures must be provided to preserve confidentiality. Refer to Chapter 4.14 "Security and management of Cabinet information". Similarly, access to Committee information must also accord with access conventions described in the Handbook. Refer to Chapter 4.15 "Access to Cabinet documents".

    3.1.7 Attendance of officials at Committee meetings

    Upon agreement with the Chairperson, officials may attend Cabinet Committee meetings to assist their Minister and to provide advice to the meeting where required. They are expected to explain factual or technical material on request, but not to participate in discussions unless invited by the Chairperson. If their Minister leaves the Committee meeting, the official will normally withdraw unless asked by the Minister or Chairperson to remain.

    Officials present at Cabinet Committee meetings are privy to discussions on the basis of absolute confidentiality. There must be no disclosure of the nature or content of the discussions. Only members of Cabinet Committees are entitled to deliberate on issues.

    For the purpose of this section, "officials" includes public sector employees, ministerial staff and statutory body employees. Other persons may attend at the discretion of the Chairperson of the Committee.

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    Last updated:
    18 May, 2016
    Last reviewed:
    3 October, 2013