The Cabinet system and workflow

The following diagram outlines the steps involved in developing a Cabinet submission.

NSW_Cabinet_Process

1. Proposal

Early identification of matters that require Cabinet consideration will enable the Premier to develop a forward agenda to support wider consultation and deeper project management in the preparation of drafting submissions.

Twice a year, the Premier asks Ministers to submit proposals for submissions they intend to bring to Cabinet in the next 12 months. Proposals must first be endorsed by the relevant lead cluster Secretary and then by all sponsoring Ministers, before the Premier considers them and approves listing on the forward agenda.

Outside of these calls for proposals, Ministers may still put forward an urgent proposal to the Premier, however this should be done in writing.

Ministers should ensure that there is time for the development of a fully-compliant Cabinet submission before the matter is due to be considered.

2. Collaboration and the pre-draft steps for a submission

Once a proposal is identified and has been approved for Cabinet's consideration, the draft submission is prepared using the Cabinet submission template and guidelines. A submission should only be drafted by a department or agency on the instruction of the relevant Minister, following Premier's approval to proceed.

When developing a submission, it is important that your Department and agency consults and collaborates with stakeholders. This may take several months, depending on the policy complexity of the submission.

At an early stage, your department or agency should consult with:

  • departments and agencies directly affected by the proposal
  • DPC and the Treasury
  • the department of Justice if the proposal involves legal policy issues or new offences, penalties or enforcement powers
  • The Department of Finance, Services and Innovation if the proposal involves procurement systems.

The submission must be no more than 10 pages in length (including the coversheet) and:

  • detail the recommended policy approach
  • outline the views of stakeholders
  • analyse the risks and impacts.

You should note the responses of these agencies in the consultation section of the submission.

3. Draft Submission Stage

Once the Secretary of the Department has approved the draft submission:

  • the relevant Minister approves it for circulation and consultation
  • DPC reviews it and then circulates it for comment.

4. Comments on Draft

The draft submission is circulated to CLOs who seek the views of relevant staff from their department and other cluster agencies. The consultation period should be a minimum of 5 full working days.

  • Cabinet submissions are circulated to all CLOs
  • Cabinet Committee submissions are circulated only to relevant clusters.

CLOs consolidate their cluster's comments into a single response setting out key issues, which the Secretary (or their delegate) must approve. CLOs should attempt to resolve conflicting views within the cluster. However, in limited circumstances it may be appropriate for the cluster's comments to specify the advice of one or more particular agencies.

Comments contain advice about the adequacy, feasibility and quality of proposals. Comments are not formally approved by Ministers, but Ministers should be consulted on any sensitive aspects before comments are submitted.

Comments on the draft submission are summarised in the consultation section of the final submission. This provides transparency about the views of clusters, the issues they have raised and how they have been addressed.

Departments and agencies should discuss substantial issues with the originating agency before submitting comments. DPC is able to assist in arranging interagency meetings, if required.

5. Final Submission Stage

The final submission takes account major issues that were raised in comments on the draft submission and specify how they were resolved.

If there are major issues raised in relation to the draft submissions, the sponsoring Minister may determine that more time is needed to develop the final submission. A postponement of the meeting date for consideration of the final submission may be sought.

The originating department or agency:

  • amends the submission to address comments from other departments and/or agencies
  • incorporates comments on the draft submission into the consultation section of the final submission. This provides transparency about the views of clusters, the issues they have raised and how they have been addressed.

Once the Secretary of the Department has approved the final submission:

  • the relevant Minister approves it for consultation
  • DPC reviews it and then circulates it for comment.

Coordinated Comments

The final submission is then circulated to CLOs who again consult agencies in their cluster to ensure key issues raised have been adequately addressed.

This consultation period should be a minimum of 2 full working days.

At the end of the consultation period, CLOs submit Coordinated Comments approved by their Secretary (or Secretary's delegate). These should succinctly set out any significant outstanding issues. Coordinated Comments should not be used to raise new issues, unless they were introduced in the final submission.

At this point, no further changes are made to the final submission. The final submission and Coordinated Comments are then ready for consideration by the Minister

6. Lodgement

After any required consultation periods are completed, the Minister considers the Coordinated Comments received on the final submission and lodges the submission for consideration by Cabinet.

Coordinated Comments are distributed to Cabinet with the final submission once it is lodged by the relevant minister.

The final submission must be lodged a minimum six days before the scheduled Cabinet meeting.

Six-day rule

A six-day rule applies to all Cabinet submissions, this means the minimum time between a submission being lodged and considered at a Cabinet meeting is six business days to allow Ministers time to consider and seek advice on submissions.

Supplements

In rare and urgent circumstances, a Minister may provide a supplement to a lodged Cabinet submission that amends the recommendations or provides further information to the submission. This may be considered necessary if it is determined that additional information is required before Cabinet or a Committee considers the submission or if a decision has been made during the six day lodgement period that affects the Cabinet submission.

Supplements must be lodged by close of business at least two days before the meeting date where the Cabinet submission will be considered.

Consideration should be given as to whether the supplement addresses issues raised in the Coordinated Comments received on the submission and, if time allows, whether it may be more suitable to instead re-circulate a new final submission for coordinated comments. This ensures that Coordinated Comments are still current when the submission is considered.

8. Cabinet and Cabinet Committee meetings

Cabinet agenda

Cabinet meetings are typically held weekly.

There is a rolling Cabinet forward agenda.

Ministers have the opportunity to request that a submission listed on the Cabinet forward agenda be rescheduled through a date variation request submitted by the relevant Cabinet Liaison Officer. Date variation requests should be submitted well in advance of the scheduled meeting, ahead of when the draft submission is due to be uploaded. This request will then be considered by the Premier, with advice from the Cabinet Secretary.

Submissions are not automatically listed on the next Cabinet meeting agenda if the item is running late.

The confirmed agenda for a Cabinet meeting is determined by the Premier the week before, on advice received from the Cabinet Secretary. An item’s inclusion on the agenda is dependent on factors such as its priority or urgency and the other matters Cabinet needs to consider.

Late Submissions

A late submission is a Cabinet submission which needs to be considered at a meeting of the Cabinet but has not met the requirements of the six-day rule.

You should only seek exemptions in exceptional circumstances where a submission must be considered urgently.

For Cabinet, the Premier and Deputy Premier must grant an exemption.

For Cabinet Committees, the Committee Chair must grant an exemption.

A Minister’s written request for approval should be submitted to the Premier or Chair stating the reasons for the urgency. In addition, verbal advice is to be given to the Premier or staff in the Office of the Premier advising of the proposed late submission and stating the reasons for its urgency. The Cabinet Secretariat should also be notified.

Deferred Submission

Cabinet may defer a submission for later consideration if it requires further information or advice, considers minor amendments to be necessary, or considers the submission to require significant redrafting. If so, it may defer a submission until that advice is available, or refer it to one of the Cabinet committees.

Where Cabinet has deferred a submission, the Cabinet Secretary will advise the determined course of action. Cabinet Secretariat will notify the responsible minister and their Cabinet Liaison Officer and advise on what information or amendments are required and the timing for resubmission.

If a submission is deferred because more advice is needed, the responsible Minister must lodge an amending letter by close of business two business days before the rescheduled meeting for the matter to be reconsidered.

If a submission is deferred because it requires amendments to the submission then the Cabinet submission is withdrawn and the responsible Minister in consultation with their cluster or agency redrafts the submission:

  • If the changes are minor, the item is submitted as a final submission and circulated to cluster for Coordinated Comments and lodgement for a subsequent meeting.
  • If the changes require significant redrafting, the item is submitted as a draft submission and will go through the full two stage Cabinet system.

Decisions

In line with the conventions of collective responsibility and confidentiality, detailed Cabinet discussions are not recorded. The Cabinet Secretary instead records consensus Cabinet decisions.

For deferred submissions the decision should record that the submission was:

  • deferred due to lack of time for proper consideration in the meeting
  • deferred for further work to be undertaken
  • rescheduled prior to the meeting.

DPC distributes Cabinet decisions to all Ministers, Secretaries and CLOs.

Committee decisions are also distributed to all Ministers, Secretaries and CLOs.