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    9.4 National Cabinet Reform Committees

    National Cabinet Reform Committees (NCRCs) are established to support National Cabinet to progress priority issues. National Cabinet Reform Committees report to National Cabinet and operate under Cabinet rules defined by the Federal Cabinet Handbook.

    9.4.1 Establishment of NCRCs

    The National Cabinet may establish NCRCs as required to support National Cabinet to progress priority issues. The work program, tenure, and other arrangements for NCRCs will be determined by National Cabinet. Each NCRC will be bound by Terms of Reference.

    NCRCs are intended to provide advice to National Cabinet, with National Cabinet retaining ultimate decision-making responsibility.

    NCRCs are time limited and cease to exist once National Cabinet’s tasking has been completed or as otherwise determined by National Cabinet.

    9.4.2 Queensland’s membership

    The Premier will nominate a Minister to represent Queensland on each NCRC.

    If the NCRC’s work program impacts a number of portfolios, the lead Minister will be responsible for working in cooperation with other relevant Ministers.

    The lead Minister may delegate to another Minister to represent Queensland as needed and in consultation with the Premier, preferably in writing.

    9.4.3 Expert Advisory Groups

    National Cabinet may establish Expert Advisory Groups (EAGs) to support NCRCs to deliver their work program. National Cabinet may choose the composition of EAGs or determine the general parameters of the skills and expertise required. Where appropriate, Ministers should proactively advocate to ensure Queensland is appropriately represented on EAGs.

    9.4.4 NCRC operating principles

    The Federal Government has devised a set of principles to guide engagement with the operations of the NCRCs:

    • National Cabinet establishes and tasks NCRCs.
    • The NCRCs’ work programs are at the direction of National Cabinet.
    • Membership of NCRCs is strictly one Minister and one senior official per jurisdiction and the Federal Minister. The Federal Minister is the permanent Chair. Attendance at each meeting must be recorded and provided to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Cabinet Division.
    • Experts can be co-opted to meetings as appropriate. Attendance must be approved by the Federal Cabinet Secretary.
    • NCRC meetings should occur as frequently as is required to make decisions on tasking issued by the National Cabinet.
    • Materials and discussions are confidential and are to be handled in accordance with the Federal Cabinet conventions and the Federal Cabinet Handbook 14th Edition.
    • All material must be marked as a minimum ‘OFFICIAL: SENSITIVE’ ‘NATIONAL CABINET’.
    • Material prepared for the NCRCs and the National Cabinet can only be provided to those with a need-to-know.
    • NCRC material classified ‘PROTECTED’ can only be provided to those with a Baseline security clearance or higher who also have a need-to-know.
    • Before any NCRC material is considered for release or production (under Freedom of Information legislation, parliamentary inquiries, and judicial processes) careful consideration needs to be undertaken and consultation with the Federal Government (through the Department of the Premier and Cabinet (DPC) should occur.
    • All meetings must be conducted via secure telepresence, able to support ‘OFFICIAL: SENSITIVE’ discussions (as a minimum). The Ministerial Communications Network (MCN) is the preferred and best supported system. However, PM&C Cabinet Division holds a list of alternative approved platforms, which DPC can assist to identify.
    • The Federal Department supporting the Chair is responsible for managing the circulation of agendas, papers and minutes to their state and territory counterparts in accordance with the Protective Security Policy Framework.
    • All meetings must have an agenda and a minute must be produced to record decisions. Agendas must only cover issues which have been tasked to the NCRC by the National Cabinet. The Federal Cabinet Secretary must authorise each minute and the minute will be endorsed by the National Cabinet at the next meeting.
    • Official note takers are responsible for producing the minute.  All notes taken by the official note takers must be made in a Cabinet notebook issued by PM&C Cabinet Division. Three note takers are required for each meeting: one from the lead Federal Department; one from a nominated jurisdiction; and the Federal Cabinet Secretary (or their delegate).

    This section should be read in conjunction with Chapter 4.15.6 of the Cabinet Handbook. Agencies must ensure DPC is consulted immediately if access is sought under legislation or by courts and investigatory bodies to NCRC documents.

    9.4.5 Proactive engagement

    NCRCs are a key opportunity for promoting Queensland policy positions, supporting cross-jurisdictional information sharing and building relationships to support Queensland’s strategic agenda. Ministers should adopt a proactive position to advance Queensland’s strategic policy objectives with the Federal Government and other states and territories. This includes:

    • strengthening Queensland’s position by proactively shaping terms of reference, work plans and agendas to ensure Queensland’s priorities are pursued
    • working with jurisdictions to find common ground in agenda items that deliver a net benefit to Queenslanders, and
    • early engagement with other Queensland Ministers to ensure consistency in messaging.

    9.4.6 Decision-making authority

    It is the responsibility of the lead Minister to ensure they are prepared to represent the Queensland Government at NCRC meetings.

    A negotiating framework should be developed by the lead Minister’s agency to guide Queensland participation in reforms being progressed by NCRCs. Early consultation with DPC is expected to determine the approval pathway for the negotiating framework.

    The lead Minister is responsible for seeking Queensland’s Cabinet authorisation for any substantive binding decisions being made by the NCRC, including Queensland’s position on matters which are intended to be escalated to First Ministers for decision.

    Where NCRC timeframes require urgent decisions and timing prevents these being progressed through the Queensland Cabinet, or amendments are required to a Queensland Cabinet-approved position, the lead Minister may seek agreement from the Premier (preferably in writing).

    Where new issues or alternative proposals arise at meetings which the Minister believes require further consideration by Cabinet/CBRC; or consultation with the Premier is required, it is the responsibility of that Minister to make this position clear to the NCRC.

    The Minister should ensure the Premier is kept regularly updated in writing on the progress of the NCRC’s work including any decisions made by this body. The Premier will advise the Minister whether an update should be provided to Cabinet.

    9.4.7 NCRC information security

    All proceedings and documentation of the NCRCs are strictly confidential.

    The information security of NCRCs must operate in accordance with the Australian Government’s Protective Security Policy Framework.

    NCRCs are constituted as committees of Federal Cabinet and operate under Federal Cabinet rules. Documents and advice prepared by NCRCs are Federal Cabinet materials. The Federal Cabinet Handbook 14th Edition specifies handling requirements for NCRC documents. All information and materials prepared for NCRCs are to be handled in accordance with these requirements.

    In accordance with the NCRC operating principles (see Section 9.4.4), all documents and associated records prepared for NCRCs are to be marked ‘NATIONAL CABINET’ and carry a sensitivity classification of ‘OFFICIAL: SENSITIVE’ or a security classification of ‘PROTECTED’ or higher. It is not expected that information prepared for NCRCs will be classified above ‘OFFICIAL: SENSITIVE’. Should Ministers or agencies need to access information at or above the ‘PROTECTED’ level for the purposes of the NCRC, advice should be sought from Intergovernmental Relations, DPC, who can assist where the Minister or agency does not have an appropriately secure network for receipt of the information and/or do not hold appropriate security clearances to access the information.

    Agency officials are responsible for the security and handling of NCRC information held within their portfolio.

    To reduce the risk of unauthorised disclosure, agencies must ensure access to sensitive and security classified information is only provided on a ‘need-to-know’ basis.

    9.4.8 NCRC coordination

    The lead Minister’s agency is responsible for coordination of the lead Minister’s participation in the NCRC.

    The lead Minister’s agency should ensure DPC is kept informed of the timing, agenda, potential issues for discussion, and decisions, for each NCRC meeting as soon as the information is available. 

    9.4.9 NCRC decisions and implementation

    The lead Minister is responsible for ensuring implementation of NCRC decisions in Queensland.

    Where an NCRC decision impacts another Minister’s portfolio or requires implementation by another Minister’s agency, it is the responsibility of the lead Minister to advise the relevant Minister in writing, with a copy to the Premier. 

    The lead Minister’s agency is responsible for the implementation and tracking of any NCRC decisions.

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    Last updated:
    25 May, 2021
    Last reviewed:
    25 May, 2021