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    4.12 Cabinet decisions

    Cabinet does not make "decisions" in the formal legal sense, since the exercise of statutory powers is normally the legislative responsibility of individual Ministers or of the Governor in Council. Nevertheless, by long established convention, the decisions of Cabinet are at the heart of Executive government.

    Cabinet is the highest decision-making body in government and therefore the matters discussed have significant implications for the State, business and individuals. The unauthorised disclosure of Cabinet decisions can be damaging to the public interest, and can be detrimental to the companies and individuals affected by the decisions. Unlawful disclosure may constitute an offence under the Criminal Code, official misconduct under the Crime and Misconduct Act 2001 and may also offend the Public Sector Ethics Act 1994.

    Every effort must be made to ensure the security of Cabinet decisions in accordance with the guidelines discussed in Chapter 4.14 "Security and management of Cabinet information"

    All Cabinet submissions, either written or oral, presented to Cabinet will have a corresponding Cabinet decision prepared. Should a Minister decide to withdraw a written submission at Cabinet, a Cabinet decision will record that action.

    The Cabinet Secretary records Cabinet decisions, which are circulated to Ministers and to relevant Chief Executive Officers of departments, subject to circulation restrictions imposed by security classifications on submissions and consultation action undertaken. Refer to Chapter 4.12.2 "Circulation of Cabinet decisions".

    4.12.1 Types of Cabinet decisions

    Decisions may take four different colour coded forms dependent on the degree of interest and implementation responsibility for action arising:

    • Gold Copy
      Signifies implementation responsibility and is issued to a Minister(s) responsible for taking action arising from a decision. This copy can be retained by the Minister(s) for ongoing reference purposes. The equivalent for a Cabinet Committee decision is a Green Copy.
    • Silver Copy
      Signifies implementation responsibility and is issued to a Chief Executive Officer(s) responsible for taking action arising from a decision. This copy can be retained by the Chief Executive Officer(s) in the departmental Cabinet filing system for ongoing reference purposes. The equivalent for a Cabinet Committee decision is a Pink Copy.
    • Blue Copy
      Signifies that there is an interest in the decision, and is issued to Ministers and Chief Executive Officers. This copy can be retained for ongoing reference purposes. The equivalent for a Cabinet Committee decision is a Pink Copy.
    • White Copy
      Signifies that there is no ongoing interest in the decision and is issued to Ministers and Chief Executive Officers for perusal and immediate return to the Cabinet Secretariat. White Copy decisions have the same significance for Cabinet Committee decisions.

    4.12.2 Circulation of Cabinet decisions

    Generally Cabinet decisions will be available for collection from the Cabinet Secretariat during the afternoon on the day following the Cabinet meeting. CLLOs will be contacted when decisions are available.

    The Cabinet Secretary is unable to release information or discuss Cabinet decisions arising from a Cabinet meeting until the official decisions have been circulated to the attending Ministers and relevant Chief Executive Officers. Should urgent action be required to be taken on an issue subject to Cabinet consideration prior to circulation of the decision, the respective Minister should be contacted in the first instance.

    Decisions with Security Classification "A" Secret will be circulated in a sealed envelope addressed to Ministers who must open these envelopes personally. Secret decisions will be distributed to the Chief Executive Officer of agencies either consulted in the drafting of the submission or with implementation responsibility outlined in the decision. However, these envelopes will be addressed to the Minister and are released to the Chief Executive Officer at the Ministers' discretion.

    Ministers and Chief Executive Officers are responsible for ensuring that strict security is maintained regarding decisions and that due care and attention is given in light of the security classification afforded the document.

    Within departments, CLLOs are responsible for ensuring that relevant action officers are aware of the particulars of a decision as soon as possible following Cabinet.

    4.12.3 Announcement and implementation of Cabinet decisions

    Individual Ministers, and through them their Chief Executive Officers, are responsible for the implementation of Cabinet decisions as soon as possible following Cabinet. The implementing Minister must advise other affected Ministers and departments of the decision and the proposed strategy to implement the decision. This should normally be undertaken in writing. The letter may summarise or paraphrase the decision but should not quote the decision. CLLOs are authorised to prepare letters for Ministers containing a precis of Cabinet decisions and for ensuring their appropriate distribution.

    Overall coordination of implementation of Cabinet's decisions is vested in the Premier as Chairperson of Cabinet. The Premier, through the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, will periodically review the implementation of Cabinet decisions.

    After Cabinet has resolved a matter, Ministers should not announce a Cabinet decision unless the submission has specifically foreshadowed that an announcement will be made. The provision of a copy of Cabinet documents to the media or to the public is not to be undertaken in any circumstances.

    Cabinet decisions that require the approval of the Governor in Council should not be publicly announced until this approval has been obtained. In special cases, the approval of the Premier and Governor may be obtained to announce the decision prior to the meeting of the Executive Council. In such cases, the announcement should be along the lines that the particular matter will be submitted to the Governor in Council for consideration.

    Where a Cabinet decision is approving guidelines or procedures which will apply across other government agencies, it is the responsibility of the agency tasked with implementation to ensure that follow-up advice is provided to all affected agencies as a matter of priority. Although copies of such decisions are generally provided to affected agencies, the implementation agency has a duty of care to ensure that the approved guidelines or procedures are promulgated, understood and practised in accordance with the Cabinet decision.

    In terms of public release or correspondence regarding Cabinet submissions and decisions, there should be no direct quotations from submissions or decisions (including disclosure of allocated identification numbers). Where necessary, the content of submissions and decisions may be summarised or paraphrased where it is essential to explain a point of policy relating to the operations of a department.

    CLLOs are responsible for updating the status of decision implementation through the Cabinet Information System on a regular basis. Decisions are completed when all aspects of the decision have been fully implemented. Where a decision calls for regular reporting to Cabinet or Cabinet Committees, this should be considered an outstanding decision until it is determined by the Premier, Cabinet or Cabinet Committee that the regular reports are no longer required.

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    Last updated:
    18 May, 2016
    Last reviewed:
    17 July, 2009