“There are only two ways of getting into the Cabinet. One is to crawl up the staircase of preferment on your belly; the other way is to kick them in the teeth. But for God’s sake don’t mix the two methods.” – Aneurin Bevan (British Labour politician)
The Executive Government consists of the Cabinet and the Ministry led by the Prime Minister.
The Ministry is derived from the party or parties that command a majority in the House of Representatives.
Constitutionally, the Governor-General heads the Executive Government, but in practice the Governor-General acts on the advice of the Prime Minister.
The Ministry consists of all those Members of Parliament chosen by the Prime Minister. The Liberal Party has always given its prime minister the power to choose the ministry. The ALP traditionally allowed the Caucus to elect the ministry, whilst the Prime Minister allocated portfolios. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (2007-10 & 2013) was allowed to abandon this process and choose his own ministry, a practice also followed by Julia Gillard (2010-13).
Ministers serve as members of the executive arm of government and administer the various government departments. The most senior Ministers, including the Prime Minister form the Cabinet, which is often referred to as the engine-room of government.
The principles of cabinet government are not well understood in the wider community. There is often confusion between the ministry and the cabinet, as well as uncertainty about how the Executive Government operates.
- Key Term: Executive Government
- Overview of Executive Government Rules and Conventions
- Constitutional and Executive Government Conventions
- The Executive Council
- Sep 18, 2013: Abbott Government: Administrative Arrangements Order
- Sep 18, 2013: Tony Abbott Sworn In As Australia’s 28th Prime Minister
- Sep 16, 2013: The First Abbott Ministry: Statistical Analysis
- Sep 16, 2013: The First Abbott Ministry Announced
- Jul 06, 2013: The Rudd Ministry: Age, Sex, State And Factional Breakdown
- Jul 01, 2013: The Second Rudd Ministry
- Feb 04, 2013: The Second Gillard Ministry – Revised List
- Sep 12, 2011: The Second Gillard Ministry – Revised List
- Sep 11, 2010: The Second Gillard Ministry
- Nov 29, 2007: Rudd Announces New Labor Government Ministry
- Mar 06, 2007: Howard Reshuffle: Ellison Promoted, New Minister From WA
- Apr 01, 2001: A Statistical Analysis Of The Howard Ministry – 2001
- Feb 14, 2001: The Reshuffled Howard Ministry – February 2001
- Oct 20, 1999: Bracks Labor Government Ministry
- Oct 20, 1997: The First Howard Ministry – October 1997
- Apr 03, 1996: The Second Kennett Ministry
- Apr 02, 1996: The Second Kennett Ministry 1996
- Mar 11, 1996: The First Howard Ministry 1996
- Oct 18, 2013: Bill Shorten’s ALP Shadow Ministry – Full List
- Oct 14, 2013: Plibersek New ALP Deputy Leader; Wong And Conroy Take Senate Positions; Shadow Ministry Elected
- Sep 19, 2012: Tony Abbott’s Revised Coalition Shadow Ministry
- Dec 06, 2007: Nelson Announces Shadow Ministry
- Dec 06, 2007: Coalition Shadow Ministry From December 6, 2007
- Dec 08, 2003: Mark Latham’s Shadow Ministry
- Jul 02, 2003: Crean Reshuffles Shadow Ministry After Defeating Beazley Challenge
- Aug 23, 2002: Latham Promoted In Crean’s Shadow Ministry
- Aug 23, 2002: Simon Crean’s New ALP Shadow Ministry
- Feb 27, 2001: Beazley ALP Shadow Ministry 2001
- Oct 29, 1999: Napthine Coalition Shadow Ministry – Victoria 1999
- Mar 19, 1996: Kim Beazley’s ALP Shadow Ministry 1996
Cabinet & the Ministry In Operation
The responsibility of ministers to the Parliament and the people is an important ingredient of the Westminster parliamentary system. The principles of Collective and Individual Ministerial Responsibility govern this chain of accountability. The application of these principles varies considerably depending on the Prime Minister, the political position of the minister in question and public reaction.
- Cabinet Secrecy – Why? – an explanation of the necessity for secrecy in the operation of the Cabinet.
- Ministerial Resignations Since 1901 – a complete list of the ministers who have resigned or been sacked because of breaches of the individual or collective responsibility principles, or because of personal impropriety.
- Ministerial Guidelines 1998 – the official guide issued to ministers explaining their role and responsibilities.
- John Howard’s Code of Ministerial Conduct – Hailed by Howard as a bold move to raise the standard of ministerial behaviour, the Code of Conduct has undergone a number of revisions since 1996.
- The Controversy Over Jobs Taken By Ex-Ministers – concern over the propriety of jobs gained by formers ministers after they leave politics has led to calls for reform of the rules governing ministerial behaviour.
- Legislation Handbook – the 2000 version of the official handbook that guides ministers on the procedures for developing legislation for Cabinet and Parliamentary approval.
- ACT Cabinet Handbook 2002
- The Budget Lockup – every year when the Government presents the annual Budget to Parliament, the media is able to attend a “lock-up” several hours before the Budget is made available. This statement from the Treasurer’s office explains the rules governing the lock-up.
- Nov 08, 2013: Abbott Abolishes Twenty Advisory Bodies
- Sep 20, 2013: Abbott Government Advertises Jobs For Ministerial Staff
- Jun 04, 2009: Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon Resigns From Rudd Ministry
- Nov 12, 2007: Whitlam-Fraser Call For Strengthening Of Ministerial Accountability
- Sep 03, 2002: Cabinet Secrecy – Why?
- Feb 25, 2002: Stem Cell Research: A Case Study Of How Cabinet Works
- Feb 20, 2002: Ex-Ministers: Jobs After Government
- Dec 13, 2001: Howard Government 2001 Cabinet Committees
- Apr 06, 2001: The Budget Lockup
- Dec 01, 2000: Satire: Welcome To ReithCard
- Mar 17, 1996: Howard Government 1996 Cabinet Committees
Every year, historical Cabinet papers are released by the National Archives.
The papers used to be released after 30 years but the Archives is now in transition to a 20 year embargo. Two years of papers are now being released until the 20-year limit is met.