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Department of Premier and Cabinet

Cabinet and executive council matters during Caretaker

The meetings of Cabinet and the Executive Council generally cease during the caretaker period and do not resume until the new government is formed (following the return of the writs).

If Cabinet does meet, any deliberations will be subject to the caretaker conventions.

Executive Council

It is usual for the Executive Council to meet immediately before the commencement of the caretaker period to approve any outstanding proposed regulations and other statutory rules if possible.

In exceptional circumstances, the Executive Council may convene during the caretaker period to handle urgent, non-controversial matters such as the remaking of regulations before they expire or urgent statutory appointments.

Cabinet Documentation

Successive governments have accepted the convention that Ministers do not seek access to documents recording the deliberations of Ministers in previous governments. Cabinet documents, in particular, are considered confidential to the government that created them. In this context, if there is a change of government at an election, departments should return all official Cabinet documents to the custody of the Cabinet and Executive Council Office in the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

Official Cabinet records include the originals of Cabinet Agendas, Cabinet Minutes, Cabinet Briefings and Cabinet Decisions.

The custodian of official Cabinet records is the Manager, Cabinet and Executive Council Office. The Cabinet Office is responsible for maintaining and archiving a complete set of original documents, and can arrange access to any material required to ensure continuity of Government business.

Cabinet documents remain the property of the Crown, and by convention all copies are destroyed at the end of the term of existing government or when a person ceases to be a Minister. Documents may be returned to the Cabinet Office for destruction. This ensures appropriate security arrangements are observed for Cabinet documents.

At the commencement of Caretaker period, the Secretary, Department of Premier and Cabinet, will issue a circular directing all Ministers, Ministerial Offices, and State Service Agencies to return to the Cabinet Office any copies they may still hold of official Cabinet records.

Written confirmation of the destruction, or return to the Cabinet Office, of all Cabinet documents should be provided to the Secretary, Department of Premier and Cabinet prior to the declaration of the polls.

In the event that the existing Government is returned, the copies will be returned to the relevant offices and agencies as required.

The Manager, Cabinet and Executive Council Office issues further procedural guidelines on the handling of Cabinet documents once the result of the election is known.