Skip links and keyboard navigation

    2.2 Ministerial records

    Ministers, Assistant Ministers and their ministerial office staff are responsible for creating, managing and keeping full and accurate public records of their ministerial portfolio responsibilities.

    The types of public records (regardless of format) created or received in a ministerial office may include:

    • ministerial records
    • Cabinet documents
    • portfolio agency records
    • non-public records (documents relating to personal, political or constituent matters).

    The definition of public record includes a ministerial record under the Public Records Act 2002 and is 'a record created or received by a Minister in the course of carrying out the Minister’s portfolio responsibilities'.

    Ministerial records are any document, information, content or data, in any form, that provides evidence of ministerial portfolio responsibilities. They cover all aspects of a Minister’s responsibilities, including portfolio and departmental responsibilities, legislative responsibilities, correspondence and ministerial office management.

    Unless they relate to the Minister’s portfolio responsibilities, ministerial records do not include:

    • records of personal activities and interactions with family and friends
    • records of party political activities
    • records of electorate activities
    • records created in their capacity as a member of the Legislative Assembly.

    The Queensland State Archives Ministerial Records Policy details policy requirements for ministerial recordkeeping. 

    Cabinet documents

    Specific procedures relate to the management of Cabinet documents. These are set out in the Queensland Cabinet Handbook. Advice specific to the portfolio agency should be sought from the Cabinet Legislation and Liaison Officer.

    Electronic data

    Back-ups of data stored on the ministerial network are carried out on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. As a disaster recovery measure, ministerial backup tapes are stored off-site.

    2.2.1 Records to keep

    Ministers, Assistant Ministers, and staff employed in Ministerial offices create and receive different types of public records and are responsible for keeping public records about portfolio-related business regardless of format or how they are received. The table below provides a sample list.

    Table: what records to keep?

    Create and keep public records about portfolio responsibilities including, but not limited to, those which:

    Record a decision Record action taken Are required to meet legal requirements Are in all formats, and located in business applications
    • emails about portfolio decisions
    • development and implementation of portfolio policies
    • contact (in any format including emails) with the public, private organisations and other Ministers or Assistant Minister on business related to the portfolio
    • information about the creation or restructure of agencies within the portfolio
    • notes or minutes of meetings about portfolio matters
    • diaries, appointment books (electronic or hard copy) relating to the portfolio and used to record information such as dates, times and meeting agendas
    • social media posts consulting on issues or policy*
    • significant drafts showing feedback or change in policy direction
    • speeches or addresses
    • pecuniary interest records
    • records relating to Minister’s legislative responsibilities (e.g. where the Minister is the last point of appeal under legislation or has additional discretionary powers, and the information is not duplicate or held by the portfolio agency)
    • emails
    • spreadsheets
    • shared drives
    • websites and social media interactions*
    • photographs
    • data in business applications and other systems (e.g. client management databases)

    * Websites and social media posts by their nature are public documents and are therefore disclosed.

    What does NOT need to be kept?

    Information relating to party political, personal, electorate, or legislative assembly matters that do not relate to portfolio responsibilities.

    What transitory records can be destroyed once use ceases?

    Duplicates, some drafts, daily routine administrative arrangements such as parking arrangements, committee meeting arrangements.

    Ask the following questions:

    • What is the ongoing use and value of these records? To whom and why?
    • Would I have received this if I wasn’t the Minister/Assistant for the portfolio?

    Check the approved retention and disposal schedules for retention periods (see section 2.2.2 below).

    2.2.2 Disposal of ministerial records

    Ministerial records can only be disposed of in accordance with authorisation from the State Archivist. Approval for the disposal of records is given in the Office of the Minister of the Crown and Parliamentary Secretaries Retention and Disposal Schedule and the General Retention and Disposal Schedule.

    2.2.3 During a Minister’s Term of Office

    Ministerial offices may transfer ministerial records to Queensland State Archives when they are no longer required. However, prior to transfer, any Cabinet or portfolio agency records should be separated.

    Change of Minister within a government

    When there is no change of government but the Minister ceases to hold his/her portfolio, ministerial records may be transferred to Queensland State Archives or given to the Minister who takes over the portfolio responsibilities. However, official records that relate to the Minister personally (e.g. official diary) must be transferred to Queensland State Archives. Prior to transfer, any portfolio agency records, Cabinet documents and non-public records should be separated from the ministerial records.

    Cabinet documents should be returned by the outgoing Minister to the Cabinet Secretariat before the incoming Minister takes up duties. Portfolio agency records should be returned to the custody of the portfolio agency before the incoming Minister takes up duties. Declaration of Interests of Chief Executive Officers should be recalled temporarily from the Office of the Public Service Commissioner and be noted by the incoming Minister before they are returned.

    Details of pecuniary interests of any ministerial staff who do not continue in the employment of the new Minister should be forwarded to Queensland State Archives.

    Caretaker period

    In accordance with the Queensland Cabinet Handbook, Cabinet documents should be prepared for return to the Cabinet Secretariat upon Cabinet Secretariat instructions.

    Portfolio agency records should be prepared for return to the custody of the portfolio agency at the expiration of the caretaker period.

    Change of government

    Cabinet records must be returned to the Cabinet Secretariat within 48 hours of the election result being known and/or prior to the new government being sworn in.

    Portfolio agency records must be returned to the portfolio agency within 48 hours of the election result being known and/or prior to the new government being sworn in.

    Ministerial records should be transferred to Queensland State Archives.

    Details of pecuniary interests of ministerial staff should be sent to Queensland State Archives by the outgoing Minister.

    In the case of electronic records, a full network backup of file servers will be made prior to deletion and forwarded to Queensland State Archives. Information contained on the back-up may be subject to Right to Information Act 2009 searches.

    All other backup tapes held off site will be returned to Ministerial Services.

    All electronic data stored in the ministerial network or held by Ministerial Services (including the returned backup tapes) will be deleted by Ministerial Services or its agent within a period of 48 hours after the election result and/or prior to the new government being sworn in.

    If an electronic record is not deleted through an error or is subsequently recovered from the ministerial network, that record is deemed to be the property of the prior government and will be treated in accordance with the disposal authorisation given by the State Archivist.

    If any ministerial records are to be transferred from an outgoing Minister to an incoming Minister, those records are to be in paper format and clearly marked as “Records for the Incoming Minister”.

    These records left in a ministerial office following a change of government will be available to the incoming government for normal ministerial duties.

    Any other paper-based record left in a ministerial office following a change of government will be deemed to have been left in error. That record will be deemed to be the property of the prior government and will be treated in accordance with the retention and disposal schedule for ministerial office records.

    2.2.4 Storage and access

    Records transferred to Queensland State Archives are stored in accordance with the retention and disposal schedule for ministerial records. Those records with the status of permanent will be stored by the State Archivist for release after 30 years.

    If records are received at Queensland State Archives that are deemed not to be ministerial records, the relevant former Ministers will be contacted to determine what is to be done with those records. For example the records could be transferred to a department, or returned to the former Minister.

    Where the former Minister cannot be contacted or it is inappropriate to do so, the present leader of the party which formed the government at the time the records were created will be contacted.

    Access by past governments

    Former Ministers who wish to access records with which they dealt personally while in office must apply for access under the Right to Information Act 2009.

    Access required under Legislation or by Courts and Investigatory Bodies

    Access to ministerial records may be sought by an individual, court, a tribunal or an investigatory body or, in any event, under the:

    Access will be determined in accordance with the relevant legislation under which the information is sought and/or the jurisdictional powers of the particular court, tribunal or investigatory body seeking the information.

    Access by individuals

    Access to ministerial records may be sought by an individual under relevant legislation and access will be determined in accordance with the relevant legislation under which the information is sought. 

    * Note: Where reference to a Minister is made in this section, it should also be taken to be a reference to an Assistant Minister.

    ^ to top

    Last updated:
    19 March, 2018
    Last reviewed:
    19 March, 2018