Here are the answers to some of the frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Cabinet and the Cabinet process.

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Cabinet

What is Cabinet?

Cabinet is the government’s central decision-making body, comprising all ministers, with the Premier as the chair. It has a collective responsibility to make decisions that are in the best strategic interest of the state.

Cabinet meets on Mondays and Thursdays. Monday Cabinet meetings are for routine Cabinet business. Thursday Cabinet meetings are for strategic discussions.

What should go to Cabinet?

Information about proposals that need Cabinet approval can be found on the What Needs to go to Cabinet page.

What is Executive Council?

Many decisions made by Cabinet require the approval of the Governor before they can be implemented. Executive Council is the body that advises the Governor on these decisions. All ministers are ex officio members of Executive Council.

What is the Cabinet Secretary’s role?

The Cabinet Secretary has been appointed to assist the Premier maintain a rigorous Cabinet process and ensure that the Cabinet agenda is focused on delivering the government’s commitments and priorities. This includes managing the procedural and operational matters of Cabinet.

The Cabinet Secretary is responsible for:
  • approving the addition of items to the Cabinet forward agenda
  • determining whether a submission requires consideration by a Cabinet committee prior to Cabinet
  • approving late items for Cabinet at the request of ministers
  • approving requests for ministerial absence from Cabinet and Executive Council.

The Hon David Speirs MP is the Cabinet Secretary and can be emailed via CabinetSecretary@sa.gov.au

Cabinet submissions

What is the difference between a Cabinet submission and a note?

A Cabinet submission must be used where Cabinet is being asked to approve a proposal. A Cabinet note is used to provide information to Cabinet. A note is for information only and cannot be used where Cabinet approval is required.

Which template do I use?

This will depend on what Cabinet is being asked to do. Use the Cabinet submission template if Cabinet is being asked to approve a proposal or the appointments template if Cabinet is being asked to recommend an appointment.

Use the Cabinet note template if Cabinet is being asked to ‘note’ something.

Download templates from the Templates, Forms and Checklists page.

A strategic discussion item can be supported by an A3 paper. There is no template for an A3 paper, but Cabinet Office can provide guidance.

All Cabinet documents, including strategic discussion items, must have the appropriate classification, e.g. Sensitive: SA Cabinet.

How long should my Cabinet submission be?

Cabinet submissions should be a maximum of six pages, excluding attachments. Any critical further information can be included in an attachment.

Is there a specific order for attachments?

Yes. You can find information on the attachment section of the submission templates or in the checklists for specific items.

What is required to lodge an appointment submission?

Appointment submissions do not require approval for inclusion on the forward agenda (unless it will be lodged late) and do not require a Cabinet Office or DTF costing comment. However, to ensure that Executive Council requirements have been met, these must be sent to Cabinet Office prior to being signed by the submitting minister.

More information can be found on the Board and Committee Procedures page.

What is the one-step process?

The one-step process means that Cabinet approval is sought only once, after draft regulations have been prepared by Parliamentary Counsel.

In the one-step process Cabinet is requested to approve the draft regulations and to recommend that the Governor make them.

Most regulations should follow the one-step process.

What is the two-step process?

The two-step process means that Cabinet approval is requested at two stages. Firstly, for approval to draft the regulations.

Secondly, to recommend that the Governor make the regulations in Executive Council.

The two-step process must be used for complex issues that represent a change in government policy or issues that will affect two or more ministerial portfolios.

Are instructions to Parliamentary Counsel required as part of the one-step process to approve and make regulations?

Instructions will need to be provided to Parliamentary Counsel using the correct template, but do not need to be attached to the Cabinet submission seeking approval of the regulations.

Do I need to prepare two Cabinet submissions when drafting or making regulations?

If you are following a two-step process you will also need to complete a Cabinet submission at both stages. However, you only need to seek authority to bring the item forward once.

How do I get approval for a submission to be ‘walked in’ to Cabinet?

On very rare occasions, items may be of such urgency that there is no time to lodge them through the normal processes or circulate papers ahead of the Cabinet meeting. These items are known as ‘walk ins’ and are tabled in the Cabinet meeting. They should only be used in exceptional circumstances where a matter is so urgent it cannot wait until the following Cabinet meeting or be dealt with in another way.

Walk ins are only accepted at the discretion of the Chair of Cabinet (the Premier). If your Minister has an item of this nature, please get in contact with the Premier’s Chief of Staff as soon as possible.

Should my Cabinet item be locked?

Where a matter is highly sensitive, it may be ‘locked’. This means that circulation is restricted and the item is not named on the Cabinet agenda.

Agencies should consult with their minister’s office if they believe an item should be locked.

What information classification should be used for Cabinet documents?

At a minimum, all Cabinet documents should be classified Sensitive: SA Cabinet. The Protected classification should be used in addition to the Sensitive classification where appropriate.

Can you tell me the outcome of my Cabinet item?

Cabinet decisions are available to authorised persons, usually on the day following the Cabinet meeting. Departmental staff without access should contact their department’s central Cabinet coordination unit or their minister’s Cabinet liaison officer for information about Cabinet outcomes.

Can you send me a copy of a Cabinet submission?

Cabinet Office is the custodian of Cabinet submissions, but not the owner. For access to a Cabinet submission, you need to speak to the responsible minister’s office.

If you need to know the outcome of particular Cabinet matter and its impact on your agency, speak to the agency responsible for that item.

What should I do if another agency or Minister wants access to old Cabinet documents?

There are a number of conventions and policies in place around access to Cabinet documents. Please contact the Manager of Cabinet Coordination in the first instance to discuss the request and seek guidance.

How do I find out if an item is on the Cabinet forward agenda?

Your minister’s office is responsible for having matters listed on the forward agenda. If you are unsure if a matter has been listed, contact the minister’s Cabinet liaison officer.

Cabinet Committees

You can also refer to the Cabinet Committees page.

What are Cabinet Committees?

Cabinet Committees assist Cabinet in its decision-making role. Each committee operates according to a Terms of Reference.

Are there templates for Cabinet Committee items?

Use the Cabinet documents templates available on the Templates, Forms and Checklist page, modifying to reflect that it is going to a Cabinet committee.

When do Cabinet Committees meet?

Contact the relevant committee Executive Officer for information about committee meetings.

What happens if the Cabinet Secretary refers an item to a Cabinet Committee?

Cabinet Office will advise the submitting minister’s office if the Cabinet Secretary refers an item to a Cabinet Committee. The minister’s office should then liaise with the committee chair to discuss adding the item to the committee agenda. The committee’s Executive Officer can assist and provide guidance.

Where can I find the outcome of a decision from a Cabinet committee meeting?

Committee Executive Officers provide notification of Cabinet committee approvals directly to relevant ministerial offices.

What happens if the DTF costing comments refer an item to Budget Cabinet Committee (BCC)?

The Department of Treasury and Finance (DTF) costing comment will confirm whether there are budget impacts and whether the submission needs to be considered by BCC before being considered by Cabinet.

What if the submission is urgent and needs to be considered by Cabinet before the next scheduled BCC meeting?

Where a submission will have a clear negative budget impact and there is urgency surrounding the proposal, the Treasurer may authorise the submission to proceed to Cabinet (known as a bypass). The submitting minister's office (Chief of Staff) must seek approval from the Treasurer to bypass Budget Cabinet Committee consideration. This will only be provided in exceptional circumstances. Contact your minister’s office to discuss seeking a bypass.

Matters for Executive Council

What should be presented to the Governor in Executive Council?

Refer to the Executive Council page.

What is the process for submitting an item to Executive Council?

Any matter which requires the approval of the Governor in Executive Council must be submitted to Cabinet. View the Executive Council and What Needs to go to Cabinet pages for more information.

What is the process for publishing Executive Council matters in the Government Gazette?

Cabinet Coordination organises the publication of Executive Council matters in the Government Gazette.

Can the Governor make retrospective appointments?

No.

Miscellaneous

Does Cabinet meet if the Premier is unavailable?

Cabinet will usually meet even if the Premier is not available. If it is a planned absence, an Acting Premier will be appointed and will chair Cabinet. If the Premier is unexpectedly absent, Cabinet may be chaired by the next most senior minister, usually the Deputy Premier.

How do I obtain approval for my minister to be absent from Cabinet or Executive Council?

Requests for ministerial absence must be submitted to the Cabinet Secretary, outlining the reason for the absence.

When does something need to go to Public Works Committee and what Cabinet approval is required?
Where can I learn about the processes of the South Australian Parliament?

The Parliament of South Australia website will inform you about the processes of the South Australian Parliament, including its history and access information such as Hansard and Bills.

Where can I find copies of Acts and Regulations?

The South Australian Legislation website provides you with access to and information about South Australian legislation.

Why can’t I access some of the information or downloads from this website?

Some of the information and material on this website is only available within the government’s network, known as StateNet. If you need access to material and can’t download it, email CabinetOffice@sa.gov.au.