The purpose of this Memorandum is to clarify protocols for NSW’s participation in intergovernmental Ministers’ meetings (including National Federation Reform Council Taskforces and National Cabinet Reform Committees).
This Memorandum should be read in conjunction with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Guidance for Intergovernmental Meetings (October 2020) and the NSW Cabinet Practice Manual.
Function and Subject
- National Engagement and Intergovernmental Relations
- National Engagement and Intergovernmental Relations (2)
- Ministerial Councils, National Partnerships and Agreements
The purpose of this Memorandum is to clarify the protocols for NSW’s participation in intergovernmental Ministers’ meetings.
The Intergovernmental Relations System
National Cabinet is the peak intergovernmental forum in Australia. Its role is to initiate, develop and monitor matters of national significance that require coordinated action by all Australian Governments. It consists of the Prime Minister and State and Territory Premiers and Chief Ministers.
Under the federal relations architecture agreed by National Cabinet in October 2020, National Cabinet is assisted in this function by the Council on Federal Financial Relations (CFFR) and National Cabinet Reform Committees (Reform Committees), established to progress and report back on priority reform proposals identified by National Cabinet.
National Cabinet also agreed to establish additional ‘Ministerial Meetings’ to allow portfolio Ministers to progress interjurisdictional matters in key areas outside of the National Cabinet system. These meetings focus on two or three nationally significant priorities to be progressed within a 12 month period. A further set of Ministerial Meetings have been established on a time limited basis, to be disbanded once agreed priorities have been acquitted. Unlike Reform Committees, Ministerial Meetings do not report back to National Cabinet unless specifically tasked to do so.
The National Federation Reform Council, comprising National Cabinet, CFFR and the President of the Australian Local Government Association, may also establish time limited Ministerial Taskforces (Taskforces), to progress significant federation reform issues.
This memorandum applies to all interjurisdictional Ministers’ meetings established under the federal relations architecture.
Approval of NSW positions
The positions taken by NSW Ministers at any intergovernmental meeting represent the views and position of NSW as a whole. Accordingly, it is essential that the interests and views of the NSW Government are accurately reflected. Ministers should not agree to matters at Ministers’ meetings unless adequate notice of them has been given beforehand.
Portfolio Ministers should, at the earliest opportunity after priorities for an interjurisdictional forum have been set, seek the Premier’s approval to bring forward a Cabinet Submission setting out the overarching policy authority needed to ensure effective NSW participation in the forum. This Submission should be principles-based, covering the key policy positions NSW would seek to pursue under the priority reform areas identified by National Cabinet or Chair of the Ministers’ meeting forum. It should be titled ‘[committee name] Work Program - NSW Strategic Positions’.
When Cabinet consideration is required, the following should be explained to Cabinet in a Cabinet Submission:
- key priorities NSW will seek to progress through the interjurisdictional forum,
- any substantive new policy positions that Ministers propose to put to the forum,
- the proposed NSW position on all items to be considered by the Ministers’ forum (where known), and
- detailed advice on the result of any interjurisdictional or interagency consultations.
Following initial Cabinet consideration, Ministers would not be required to return to Cabinet before every interjurisdictional meeting and should bring forward additional Cabinet Submissions only where:
- a deviation from any of the agreed positions is proposed; and/or
- approval is required to finalise an aspect of the forum’s work program, such as executing an intergovernmental agreement or committing a report to National Cabinet.
Approval for NSW positions on significant new policy matters proposed for decision at individual interjurisdictional meetings should otherwise be sought through exchange of letters between the representative Minister and the Premier, following consultation with relevant portfolio Ministers.
Where it is unclear whether Cabinet endorsement is required, agencies should consult with their Cluster Cabinet Liaison Officer, who may consult the DPC Government Partnerships team as required.
Consultation and early engagement
Before taking part in Ministers’ meetings, Ministers must ensure that a coordinated NSW position is developed, in consultation with all relevant portfolio Ministers and their agencies. Officers are encouraged to actively engage their colleagues in other agencies and portfolios early, including to seek feedback on the matters they intend on taking to the meeting. If appropriate and where possible, agencies should also consult with their colleagues in other jurisdictions to ensure the Premier is fully briefed ahead of each meeting.
For every Reform Committee and Taskforce meeting, Ministers should also provide the Premier (via DPC at email@example.com) with the following:
- the dates of meetings at the earliest opportunity
- upon receipt, copies of meeting agendas, papers and NSW briefing materials
- outcomes and minutes (including initial draft summary of the meeting) from the meetings at the earliest opportunity.
Links to resources
- NSW Cabinet Practice Manual
- Australian Government advice on effective Commonwealth State Relations
- Guidance for intergovernmental meetings operating outside of National Cabinet system
- Final report - Review of the COAG and Ministerial Forums conducted by Mr Peter Conran AM
- New federal relations architecture diagram
For general queries, please contact the Government Partnerships Team, Department of Premier and Cabinet.
Dominic Perrottet MP
Who needs to know and/or comply with this?
- Date Issued
- Jan 20, 2022
- Review Date
- Mar 25, 2023
- M1993-02 Protocols for Operation of Ministerial Councils and Review of All Councils by Heads of Government
- M1995-07 Ministerial Councils
- M2001-08 COAG Reform of Ministerial Councils
- M2002-12 Ministerial Councils
- M2003-10 Ministeral Councils
- M2009-09 Ministerial Councils
- M2012-05 Council of Australian Governments - New Council System
- M2013-07 Protocols for NSW Participation in COAG Ministerial Councils
- Replaced By
- 02 9228 5555
- Publishing Entity
- Department of Premier and Cabinet
- Issuing Entity