The purpose of this Memorandum is to set out the rules and procedures for State submissions to inquiries, including NSW Statutory and Parliamentary Committees, inquiries initiated by the Commonwealth Parliament, Government responses to Public Accounts Committee Reports and other reviews. It includes rules and procedures for determining whether a submission should be made and the process for clearance of such submissions.
The Government receives a large number of requests or invitations to provide input into various inquiries or reviews, and to respond to reports on inquiries or reviews, including inquiries undertaken by:
- State statutory or Parliamentary committees;
- Commonwealth Government agencies, the Commonwealth Parliament, various Commissions or special inquiries; and
- non-government organisations or international bodies.
A request may take the form of a direct approach (in writing or otherwise) to the Premier, relevant Ministers and/or relevant agencies or a general invitation to the public. Multiple invitations may be made to different Government Ministers and agencies regarding the same inquiry, and it is important that a coordinated approach is taken.
It is therefore important to ensure there is a systematic approach to determining the need for and nature of any submission, based on early engagement across Government.
Process for determining how to respond to a request
The Government may respond to requests in different ways, depending on the nature of the inquiry. In some cases, there may be little or no value in the preparation of a submission. In other cases, a submission offers an important opportunity to influence policies or strategies in areas of significance to the State, and it will be vital the Government delivers an informed and well-argued submission. The following steps should be observed:
- Agencies should first confirm their Minister is supportive of a submission being made.
- If the Minister agrees a submission should be made, the relevant agency should inform the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) immediately, and advise whether it is proposed the submission will be putting forward a new policy position, advocating an existing policy position, or is to be factual or technical in nature. The agency should also discuss with DPC whether it is likely other portfolios will be affected by the submission.
- DPC will seek approval from the Premier or her delegate for the proposed approach to the submission (i.e. whether one should be made and the type of submission it should be), drafting responsibilities and the necessary clearance process and advise the agency accordingly. As such, agencies should always check with DPC whether a submission is necessary before drafting. DPC will also advise the agency about the process for coordination with other affected agencies. Generally, where an inquiry raises issues that primarily relate to a particular portfolio area, the relevant agency will be responsible for drafting the submission, in consultation with other agencies affected by the inquiry and DPC. However, DPC may assume this responsibility in certain instances, such as where the inquiry raises issues affecting several portfolios and there is no clear lead agency.
- In all cases, a draft submission must be provided to DPC for review and clearance by the Premier or her delegate a minimum of 10 working days before the due date. If Cabinet approval is required for proposed policy positions in the submission, additional time should be allowed, and a Cabinet Minute should be prepared, with the proposed submission attached.
- Only in exceptional circumstances will the Government seek an extension to a due date for a submission, and only with the agreement of the Premier or her delegate.
Clearance processes may vary, depending on the nature of the submission. These decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis by the Premier or her delegate. However, the attached table provides guidance as to how different scenarios may be dealt with.
From time to time, agency representatives may be called as witnesses to appear before inquiries. Guidance for government sector employees and Ministers who are called to be witnesses before the Legislative Council's Portfolio Committees is provided in Memoranda M2017-01 and M2017-02.
Issuing Terms of Reference for Parliamentary Inquiries, including the Public Accounts Committee
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was established to exercise the Parliament's review powers over the efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of the public sector. It has a key role in monitoring Government implementation of recommendations from reports of the NSW Auditor General.
Ministers may issue terms of reference for PAC inquiries under section 5791)(f) of the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983. To ensure these inquiries reflect Government priorities and there is no duplication, Ministers are required to obtain Cabinet's approval before referring any matter to a Parliamentary Committee, including the PAC (see M2004-09).
Who does this Memorandum apply to?
The requirements in this Memorandum apply to all NSW Government agencies subject to Ministerial direction and control.
Independent watchdogs and other bodies not subject to Ministerial direction and control (e.g. ICAC, Ombudsman, Privacy Commissioner, Auditor General and the Police Integrity Commission) are not required to seek Ministerial approval before lodging a submission as these bodies usually report directly to Parliament and are oversighted by a Parliamentary Committee rather than a Minister.
Gladys Berejiklian MP
Who needs to know and/or comply with this?
- Executive agencies related to Departments
- Advisory Entities (including Boards and Committees)
- Separate agencies
- Statutory Authorities/Bodies
- Date Issued
- Apr 3, 2017
- Review Date
- Jul 30, 2024
- Replaced By
- Publishing Entity
- Department of Premier and Cabinet
- Issuing Entity