Cabinet of Australia

The Cabinet of Australia is the Australian Government's council of senior ministers of the Crown, responsible to Parliament. Ministers are appointed by the Governor-General, on the advice of the Prime Minister, who serve at the former's pleasure. Cabinet meetings are strictly private and occur once a week where vital issues are discussed and policy formulated. The Cabinet is also composed of a number of Cabinet committees focused on governance and specific policy issues. Outside the Cabinet there is an Outer Ministry and also a number of Assistant Ministers, responsible for a specific policy area and reporting directly to a senior Cabinet minister of their portfolio. The Cabinet, the Outer Ministry, and the Assistant Ministers collectively form the full Commonwealth Ministry of the government of the day.

As with the Prime Minister of Australia, the Constitution of Australia does not recognise the Cabinet as a legal entity; these roles actually exist solely by convention. Decisions of Cabinet do not in and of themselves have legal force. Instead, it convenes to function as a practical 'foreshadowing' of the Business of the Federal Executive Council, which is, ostensibly (as per the Constitution), Australia's highest formal governmental body established by Chapter II of the Constitution of Australia. In practice, the Federal Executive Council meets solely to endorse and give legal force to decisions already made by the Cabinet.

All members of the Cabinet are members of the Executive Council. While the Governor-General is a nominal presiding officer, they almost never attend Executive Council meetings. A senior member of the Cabinet holds the office of Vice-President of the Executive Council and acts as presiding officer of the Executive Council in the stead of the Governor-General.[1]

History

Until 1956 Cabinet comprised all ministers. The growth of the ministry in the 1940s and 1950s made this increasingly impractical, and in 1956 Liberal Prime Minister Robert Menzies created a two-tier ministry, with only senior ministers being members of Cabinet, while the other ministers are in the outer ministry. This practice has been continued by all governments since, with the exception of the Whitlam Government.

When the non-Labor parties have been in power, the Prime Minister has advised the Governor-General on all Cabinet and ministerial appointments at his own discretion, although in practice he consults with senior colleagues in making appointments. When the Liberal Party and its predecessors (the Nationalist Party and the United Australia Party) have been in coalition with the National Party or its predecessor the Country Party, the leader of the junior Coalition party has had the right to nominate his party's members of the Coalition ministry, and to be consulted by the Prime Minister on the allocation of their portfolios.

When the Labor Party first held office under Chris Watson, Watson assumed the right to choose members of the Cabinet. In 1907, however, the party decided that future Labor Cabinets would be elected by members of the Parliamentary Labor Party, the Caucus, and this practice was followed until 2007. The Prime Minister retained the right to allocate portfolios. In practice, Labor Prime Ministers exercised a predominant influence over who was elected to Labor Cabinets, although leaders of party factions also exercised considerable influence.

Before the 2007 election, Kevin Rudd announced that if Labor won the election he would dispense with this tradition and appoint the ministry himself. In fact, the Caucus rule requiring the election of ministers remains in place. At the first Caucus meeting after the election, Rudd announced the members of his chosen ministry, and the Caucus then elected them unopposed, thus preserving the outward form of Caucus election.

Composition

Members of both the House of Representatives and Senate are eligible to serve as ministers and parliamentary secretaries. A minister does not have to be a member of either house, but Section 64 of the Constitution of Australia requires the minister to become a member within three months. The Prime Minister and Treasurer are traditionally members of the House of Representatives, but the Constitution does not have such a requirement. As amended in 1987, the Minister of State Act 1952 permits up to 30 ministers. As members of one house cannot speak in the other, ministers in each house serve as representatives of colleagues in the other for answering questions and other procedures.[2]

As of December 2016 every government since federation has had senators serve as ministers. The Senate typically provides one-quarter to one-third of the ministry. Some former senators and others have proposed that senators should not be eligible to serve as ministers, stating that doing so is inappropriate for members of a chamber that act as the states' house and a house of review and because governments are only responsible to the House of Representatives. John Uhr and Senator Baden Teague state that an advantage of senators serving in ministries is that the Senate can compel them to answer questions about the government.[2]

Since the introduction of the two-tier ministry, meetings of Cabinet are attended by members only, although other ministers may attend if an area of their portfolio is on the agenda. Cabinet meetings are chaired by the Prime Minister, and a senior public servant is present to write the minutes and record decisions.[3]

Since 1942, every member of the Cabinet has been a member of the Australian Labor Party, the Liberal Party of Australia, or the National Party of Australia (known prior to 1974 as the Country Party).

Cabinet collective responsibility

The Australian Cabinet follows the traditions of the British parliamentary cabinet system, in following the principle of cabinet collective responsibility. While the Cabinet is responsible to parliament for making policy decisions, Cabinet discussions are confidential and are not disclosed to the public apart from the announcement of decisions. This secrecy is necessary to ensure that items of national security are not made public, and so that ministers can speak freely and disagree with each other during discussions.[3]

Ministers are bound by a principle of cabinet solidarity, meaning that once cabinet has made a decision, all ministers must publicly support and defend that decision, regardless of their personal views on the subject.[4]

Cabinet documents are held separately from other documents and may be destroyed once no longer in use, or when a change of government occurs.[5] Since 1986, minutes and records of Cabinet meetings are embargoed from public release or disclosure for 30 years.[6] Despite this, several filing cabinets containing classified documents were obtained by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation after they were sold at a government surplus auction. The documents, aspects of which were published in January 2018, reveal the inner workings of recent governments, and have been characterized by the ABC as the largest breach of cabinet security in the nation's history.[7]

Current Cabinet committees

As with other Westminster system cabinets, Cabinet committees play an important role in the effectiveness of the Cabinet system and providing avenues for collective decision-making on particular policy issues. Under the Morrison Government, the following Cabinet committees exist:[8]

The National Security Committee (NSC) focuses on major international security issues of strategic importance to Australia, border protection policy, national responses to developing situations (either domestic or international) and classified matters relating to aspects of operation and activities of the Australian Intelligence Community. Decisions of the NSC do not require the endorsement of the Cabinet. The NSC is chaired by the Prime Minister with the Deputy Prime Minister as deputy chair and includes the Attorney-General, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Minister for Defence, the Treasurer, the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, and the Cabinet Secretary.

The Expenditure Review Committee (ERC) considers matters of regarding expenditure and revenue of the Australian federal budget and the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook. Decisions of the ERC must be endorsed by the Cabinet. The ERC is chaired by the Prime Minister with the Treasurer as deputy chair and includes the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Social Services, the Minister for Health, the Minister for Finance, and the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services.

The Digital Transformation Committee (DTC) considers matters of digital transformation across government. Decisions of the DTC must be endorsed by the Cabinet. The DTC is chaired by the Prime Minister with the Minister for Communications and the Arts as deputy chair and includes the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, the Minister for Finance, the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, the Minister for Health, the Cabinet Secretary, the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, the Minister for Human Services, and the Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation.

The National Infrastructure Committee (NIC) provides advice on the Government's infrastructure agenda to support the nation's productivity including major public works projects, co-operation with the states and territories and the private sector on infrastructure investment and delivery, and infrastructure policy. Decisions of the NIC must be endorsed by the Cabinet. The NIC is chaired by the Prime Minister with the Deputy Prime Minister as deputy chair and includes the Minister for Regional Development/Minister for Regional Communications/Minister for Local Government and Territories, the Treasurer, the Cabinet Secretary, the Minister for Finance, the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, the Minister for Urban Infrastructure, and the Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation.

The Indigenous Policy Committee (IPC) coordinates a whole-of-government approach to Indigenous policy decision-making and program implementation. Decisions of the IPC must be endorsed by the Cabinet. The IPC is chaired by the Prime Minister with the Minister for Indigenous Affairs as deputy chair and includes the Attorney-General, the Minister for Women and Minister for Employment, the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, the Minister for Social Services, the Minister for Health, the Minister for Education and Training, the Cabinet Secretary, and the Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care.

The Innovation and Science Committee (ISC) provides advice on science, research and innovation matters, including the implementation of the National Innovation and Science Agenda, development of innovation and science policy, and the National Innovation and Science Plan. Decisions of the ISC must be endorsed by the Cabinet. The ISC is chaired by the Prime Minister with the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science as deputy chair and includes the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Treasurer, the Minister for Defence Industry, the Minister for Health, the Cabinet Secretary, the Minister for Education and Training, the Minister for the Environment and Energy, and the Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science.

The Parliamentary Business Committee (PBC) considers priorities for the Australian Government's legislation program and requests to the Prime Minister for the presentation of ministerial statements. Decisions of the PBC do not require the endorsement of the Cabinet. The PBC is chaired by the Leader of the House with the Leader of the Government in the Senate as deputy chair and includes Manager of Government Business in the Senate, the Deputy Leader of the House, and the Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister.

The Service Delivery and Coordination Committee (SDCC) considers the implementation of the Government's key priorities, including joined up service delivery and communications. The SDCC is chaired by the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and includes the Minister for Regional Development/Minister for Regional Communications/Minister for Local Government and Territories (Deputy Leader of the National Party), the Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister, the Special Minister of State and Minister Assisting the Cabinet Secretary, and the Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science.

The Governance Committee (GC) provides advice and oversight of governance and integrity issues, which include the Statement of Ministerial Standards and issues arising from the Lobbyist Code. The GC is chaired by the Prime Minister with the Deputy Prime Minister (Leader of the National Party) as deputy chair and includes the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party), the Attorney-General (Leader of the Government in the Senate), and the Cabinet Secretary.

Current Cabinet

Following the Liberal Party leadership spill on Friday 24 August 2018, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was replaced as Prime Minister by Scott Morrison. Josh Frydenberg replaced the Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop as deputy leader of the Liberal Party in the same leadership ballot, and assumed the role of Treasurer.

Party Minister Portrait Portfolio
Liberal Scott Morrison MP Scott Morrison 2014 crop
National Michael McCormack MP Michael McCormack 2018-01 (cropped)
Liberal Josh Frydenberg MP Josh Frydenberg Jakarta
National Senator Bridget McKenzie Bridget McKenzie 2014-01
Liberal Senator Mathias Cormann Mathias Cormann - Senate portrait 2016
National
(CLP)
Senator Nigel Scullion Nigel Scullion Portrait 2010
Liberal Christopher Pyne MP Christopher Pyne MP
Liberal Senator Linda Reynolds
Liberal Senator Marise Payne Marise Payne October 2015
Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham Simon Birmingham
Liberal Christian Porter MP Christian Porter Portrait 2015
Liberal
(LNP)
Peter Dutton MP Peter Dutton at Parliament House cropped
Liberal Senator Mitch Fifield Mitch Fifield
Liberal Kelly O'Dwyer MP Kelly O'Dwyer 2017
Liberal Senator Michaelia Cash Michaelia Cash March 2014
National
(LNP)
Senator Matt Canavan Matt Canavan 2017
Liberal Karen Andrews MP Karen Andrews
  • Minister for Industry, Science and Technology
Liberal Dan Tehan MP Dan Tehan speaks with outside supporters (22298134110) (cropped)
Liberal Greg Hunt MP Greg Hunt
Liberal Paul Fletcher MP Paul Fletcher MP 2014
National
(LNP)
David Littleproud MP David Littleproud MP 2018 (cropped)
Liberal Melissa Price MP Melissa Price MP
Liberal Angus Taylor MP Angus Taylor 2015

Shadow Cabinet

Led by the Leader of the Opposition, the Opposition in parliament appoints from its ranks a Shadow Cabinet to monitor government ministers and present itself as an alternative government. The portfolios of shadow ministers usually correspond with those of the government. When the Liberal and National parties are in Opposition, the Shadow Cabinet is appointed by the Leader of the Opposition in consultation with the Leader of the Nationals. When Labor has been in Opposition, the Caucus has elected the Shadow Ministry and the Leader has allocated portfolios. Smaller opposition parties often appoint spokespersons for Cabinet portfolios, but these are not referred to as a Shadow Cabinet.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Federal Executive Council Handbook" (PDF). Government of Australia. June 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 July 2007. Retrieved 7 July 2007.
  2. ^ a b "No. 14 – Ministers in the Senate". Senate Briefs. Parliament of Australia. December 2016.
  3. ^ a b FAQ: Executive Government – The Cabinet Archived 26 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Parliamentary Education Office.
  4. ^ Australia's system of government, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
  5. ^ Cabinet Handbook, 5th Edition Archived 28 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine, p32, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
  6. ^ Introduction to the Cabinet and its records, National Archives of Australia.
  7. ^ "The Cabinet Files reveal national security breaches, NBN negotiations, welfare reform plans". Australian Broadcast Corporation. 31 January 2018. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  8. ^ Australian Government Directory[1] Cabinet Committees
  9. ^ Belot, Henry (2 March 2019). "Scott Morrison insists he's not distracted by ministerial exodus as Christopher Pyne bows out of politics". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
Arthur Blakeley

Arthur Blakeley (3 July 1886 – 27 June 1972) was an Australian politician who served in the House of Representatives from 1917 to 1934, representing the Labor Party. He was the party's deputy leader from 1928 to 1929 and served as Minister for Home Affairs in the Scullin Government (1929–1932).

Brian Howe (politician)

Brian Leslie Howe AO (born 23 January 1936) is a retired Australian politician and Uniting Church minister. He served as Deputy Prime Minister of Australia and deputy leader of the Labor Party from 1991 to 1995, under Bob Hawke and Paul Keating. He was a government minister continuously from 1983 to 1996, and a member of the House of Representatives from 1977 to 1996, representing the Division of Batman in Victoria.

Christopher Pyne

Christopher Maurice Pyne (born 13 August 1967) is an Australian politician who has been the Liberal member for the House of Representatives seat of Sturt since the 1993 election.

Upon the ascendancy of the Abbott Government at the 2013 election, Pyne entered the Cabinet of Australia and became Leader of the House and Minister for Education, renamed Minister for Education and Training from December 2014. Upon the ascendancy of the Turnbull Government at the 2015 Liberal leadership ballot, Pyne remained Leader of the House and became Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science. With the reelection of the government in 2016, Pyne became the Minister for Defence Industry. Upon the installment of the Morrison Ministry in August 2018, he became the Minister for Defence.

On 2 March 2019 Pyne announced that he would retire from politics at the next federal election.

Dan Tehan

Daniel Thomas Tehan (born 27 January 1968) is an Australian politician who has been the Minister for Education in the Morrison Government since August 2018. He previously served as Minister for Social Services in the Turnbull Government from December 2017 to August 2018. He has been a member of the House of Representatives since the 2010 election, representing the Division of Wannon in Victoria for the Liberal Party.

George Fuller (Australian politician)

Sir George Warburton Fuller KCMG (22 January 1861 – 22 July 1940) was an Australian politician who served as the 22nd Premier of New South Wales, in office from 1922 to 1925 and for one day in December 1921. He previously served in the federal House of Representatives from 1901 to 1913, representing the Division of Illawarra, and was Minister for Home Affairs under Alfred Deakin from 1909 to 1910.

George Turner (Australian politician)

Sir George Turner (8 August 1851 – 13 August 1916), Australian politician, was the 18th Premier of Victoria and the first Treasurer of Australia in the federal Barton Ministry.

Turner was born in Melbourne: he was the first Premier of Victoria born in the colony. He received a sound education and began work as a clerk in a law office, matriculating in 1872 and being admitted to practise as a solicitor in 1881. He was a founding member of the Australian Natives' Association, an influential lobby group of Australian-born political liberals who campaigned for Australian federation and other causes. He was a member of the town council in St Kilda and was mayor in 1887–1888.

Gregor McGregor

Gregor McGregor (18 October 1848 – 13 August 1914) was an Australian politician who served as a Senator for South Australia from 1901 until his death in 1914, representing the Labor Party. He was the party's inaugural Senate leader, and served three terms as Leader of the Government in the Senate.

James Robert Dickson

Sir James Robert Dickson, (30 November 1832 – 10 January 1901) was an Australian politician and businessman, the 13th Premier of Queensland and a member of the first federal ministry.

John Earle (Australian politician)

John Earle (15 November 1865 – 6 February 1932) was an Australian politician and the first Labor Premier of Tasmania.

Kim Carr

Kim John Carr (born 2 July 1955) is an Australian politician who has been a Senator for Victoria since 1993, representing the Labor Party. He served as a minister in the Rudd and Gillard Governments.Carr is a graduate of the University of Melbourne, and before entering politics worked as a schoolteacher and political staffer. He was appointed to the Senate in 1993, filling a casual vacancy, and was made a member of the shadow ministry after Labor's defeat at the 1996 election. Carr held a variety of portfolios in the Labor governments between 2007 and 2013, and is current a member of Bill Shorten's shadow cabinet. He is a considered a leader of the Labor Left faction in Victoria.

Lance Barnard

Lance Herbert Barnard AO (1 May 1919 – 6 August 1997) was an Australian politician and diplomat. He was a member of the House of Representatives from 1954 to 1975, representing the Labor Party, and served as the party's deputy leader from 1967 to 1974. In the Whitlam Government, he was deputy prime minister from 1972 to 1974. After leaving politics he served as Ambassador to Norway, Finland, and Sweden from 1975 to 1978.

Mark Butler

Mark Christopher Butler (born 8 July 1970) is an Australian politician and a member of the Australian Labor Party, representing the electoral division of Port Adelaide in the Commonwealth Parliament since 2007.

Before entering parliament, Butler was the South Australian secretary of the Liquour, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union (LHMU).

Butler served as Minister for Climate Change and Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Water in the Second Rudd Ministry. At the change of government following the 2013 Federal Election he became Shadow Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water, and after the 2016 Federal Election the Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy.

In July 2018, a Labor factional deal saw Butler move to the seat of Hindmarsh for the next federal election due to the abolition of his seat of Port Adelaide in a federal redistribution. The redistributed Hindmarsh absorbed most of Port Adelaide's former territory. The member for Hindmarsh, Steve Georganas, will move to the seat of Adelaide in place of retiring MP Kate Ellis.

Michael Duffy (Australian politician)

Michael John Duffy (born 2 March 1938), Australian politician, was an Australian Labor Party member of the Australian House of Representatives for the Division of Holt from 1980 to 1996. He was Minister for Communications from 1983 to 1987, Minister for Trade Negotiations from 1987 to 1990 and the Attorney-General from 1990 to 1993.

On 6 February 1990, in recognition of work on the Closer Economic Relations agreement between Australia and New Zealand Duffy was the first Australian and fifteenth appointee to The Order of New Zealand.He retired from politics prior to the 1996 election.

Duffy is currently the chairman of the board of directors for Racing Victoria Limited.

Nicola Roxon

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Richard Marles

Richard Donald Marles (born 13 July 1967) is an Australian politician and the Shadow Minister for Defence and was formerly the Shadow Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. He was briefly the Minister for Trade from July to September 2013 and has been the member for the Victorian federal seat of Corio, based on Geelong, since 2007. Marles previously served as Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs and Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs between 2012 and 2013.

Robert Ray (Australian politician)

Robert Francis Ray (born 8 April 1947) is a former Australian politician, who was a Labor Party Senator from 1981 to 2008, representing the state of Victoria.

Shadow Ministry of Australia

The Shadow Ministry of Australia (also known as the Opposition Front Bench) is a group of senior Opposition spokespeople who are regarded as the alternative Cabinet to the Cabinet of Australia, whose members shadow or mark each individual Minister or portfolio of the Government. Neither the Shadow Cabinet nor the Shadow Ministers have any official status in the Parliament of Australia. The Shadow Cabinet's membership is determined by the rules and practices of the Opposition party.

Since the 2013 Labor leadership ballot resulting from the 2013 Australian federal election, the Shadow Cabinet has been led by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten of the Australian Labor Party. Prime Minister Scott Morrison of the Liberal/National Coalition has led the Morrison Government since the 2018 Liberal leadership ballot.

Stephen Smith (Australian politician)

Stephen Francis Smith (born 12 December 1955) is a former Australian politician who was a member of the House of Representatives from 1993 to 2013. He served as a minister in the Rudd and Gillard Governments, including as Minister for Foreign Affairs (2007–2010), Minister for Trade (2010), and Minister for Defence (2010–2013).

William Irvine (Australian politician)

Sir William Hill Irvine, GCMG (6 July 1858 – 20 August 1943), Irish born-Australian politician and judge, was the 21st Premier of Victoria. Irvine was born in Newry in County Down, Ireland, into a Scottish-Presbyterian family; he was the nephew of Irish revolutionary John Mitchel. He was educated at the Royal School, Armagh and Trinity College, Dublin, graduating in law in 1879 before migrating to Melbourne, where he taught in Presbyterian schools and read law at Melbourne University, gaining a master's degree in arts and law. He soon became a leading Melbourne barrister.

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