4.1 Premier, Special Minister of State and Ministers
The Premier is the head of the Victorian Government and is also the elected leader of the party or parties with a majority in the Legislative Assembly. The Special Minister of State oversees government transparency, integrity, accountability and public sector administration and reform.
Ministers are appointed by the Governor to a portfolio on advice of the Premier. The Premier determines the number of departments and the assignment of Acts to individual Ministers. The Premier also determines the make-up of a portfolio which generally consists of a number of Ministers, one department, and possibly a number of administrative offices and associated public entities. Examples of portfolios include health, education and finance.
Ministers are accountable for the Acts in their portfolio. They are also responsible for the operation of the department and public entities that are part of their portfolios. Ministers are supported by ministerial advisers who provide political advice on policy and other issues. Ministerial advisers are employed by the Premier. By convention, they are exempt from being examined by parliamentary committees.
A list of current Ministers and their portfolios is available on the Premier’s website. The General Order allocates responsibility for administration of Acts of Parliament to Ministers. A copy of the General Order is available on the Department of Premier and Cabinet website.
Cabinet consists of the Premier and all Ministers. The Premier is the chairperson of Cabinet. Cabinet is the means through which the Government makes decisions on policy, the legislative program and administrative issues. It is a formal meeting of Ministers but has no legal status or powers.
A Cabinet submission is a document prepared for Cabinet’s consideration. Cabinet considers a range of submissions, including policy proposals, legislative proposals, Ministerial Statements, Cabinet Committee reports and appointment submissions for government bodies. Cabinet decisions are collective and binding on all Ministers as Government policy.
Collective responsibility is supported by the strict confidentiality attached to Cabinet documents and to discussions in the Cabinet Room. Cabinet and Cabinet Committees are forums in which Ministers, while working towards a collective position, are able to discuss proposals and a variety of options and views with complete freedom. The openness and frankness of discussions in the Cabinet Room are protected by the strict observance of confidentiality.
Legislative proposals come to Cabinet in two stages. The first stage is to seek approval in principle (AIP) for the drafting of the Bill. The submission includes drafting instructions that describe what the Bill seeks to achieve. Once approval in principle has been given, a Bill is drafted in accordance with the drafting instructions. The second stage is to seek Cabinet approval of the Bill prior to its introduction in Parliament. This is known as Bill at Cabinet (BAC).
Cabinet has a committee structure which allows for more detailed consideration of issues. The committees develop and consider proposals for endorsement by Cabinet. Committees do not have decision making authority unless this has been delegated by Cabinet. Cabinet Committees have particular areas of focus such as economic development, social development and the environment.
Further information: www.dpc.vic.gov.au.
4.3 Executive Council
The Executive Council was established under the Constitution Act and exercises the principal executive authority in Victoria. Executive Council advises the Governor on the exercise of certain powers of the Governor. The term Governor in Council refers to when the Governor acts formally with the advice of the Executive Council. Parliament gives the Governor in Council the power on matters such as orders, proclamations, regulations and appointments to public offices.
Unlike Cabinet, the Executive Council is not a deliberative body. All Ministers are members of the Executive Council. A quorum consists of the Governor and two Ministers. The Executive Council generally meets weekly.
Further information: www.dpc.vic.gov.au.