Departments that prepare Cabinet papers are responsible for ensuring that appropriate consultation is undertaken, that other departments are given reasonable time to comment, and that views are accurately reflected in the paper. Effective consultation ensures that Ministers receive sound, comprehensive, and co-ordinated policy advice.
When should consultation take place
Consultation with departments can take a number of forms. On occasion, it is sufficient to send copies of a draft paper to other departments for comment. In other cases, it is appropriate to discuss and try to get agreement with other departments on policy issues before finalising a draft paper for more formal consultation. For significant cross-government policy issues, a collaborative approach between relevant departments will be required.
Departments being consulted must be given enough time to consider a draft paper, and should see the final version of the document before it is uploaded to CabNet to ensure that they are happy with the comments attributed to them. Papers should indicate the departments consulted and, if appropriate outline their views and/or whether they agree with the proposals.
Every attempt must be made to present a proposal that is supported by all departments that were consulted. If consensus cannot be reached, the paper should include all views and, if necessary, options should be provided in the recommendations, clearly showing who supports which option.
Departments preparing papers must ensure that they consider the interests both of other departments and of other government agencies, including the Privacy Commissioner and Officers of Parliament (the Controller and Auditor-General, the Office of the Ombudsman, and the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment).
Which departments need to be consulted
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC), the State Services Commission (SSC), and the Treasury
Many Cabinet papers will need to be consulted with DPMC, SSC and the Treasury. Drafters should, where they are uncertain, check with the relevant advisors in DPMC, the Treasury, and SSC on whether the paper that they are preparing needs consultation with those departments.
DPMC has responsibility for advising the Prime Minister on all policy proposals that are likely to have implications for the government as a whole. This is often because they are significant policy matters, issues needing high-level co-ordination, or issues of particular public interest.
SSC has responsibility for advising Ministers on whole of government perspectives, on proposals to establish, merge, or disestablish State sector agencies (other than State-owned enterprises), and on proposals with an impact on organisational structures, strategic alignment, and capability. SSC is also responsible for chief executive accountability or departmental performance specifications, and workforce or employment relations in the State sector.
The Treasury has responsibility for advising the Minister of Finance on all proposals with economic implications, financial or fiscal (expenditure or revenue) implications, implications for the Public Finance Act 1989, and regulatory implications (proposals for primary legislation or disallowable instruments submitted for approval to Cabinet).
The Treasury must be consulted on all papers with financial, fiscal, economic, or regulatory implications, or that contain recommendations on expenditure or revenue. The Treasury must be allowed at least two weeks to comment (unless there are compelling and unavoidable reasons to be less), and the implications must be detailed in the Cabinet or Cabinet committee paper and, if appropriate, in an accompanying Regulatory Impact Assessment. This is discussed further in the page on Financial Implications in Cabinet papers.
Consultation on matters with implications for the Crown
Ministers also want assurance that the issues in papers have been assessed for their implications for the Crown. This includes legal obligations, human rights issues, regulatory impact and compliance cost implications, and the use, long-term lease, or disposal of Crown-owned land.
The following list indicates which departments drafters should consider consulting to ensure that their paper addresses these matters:
- the Crown Law Office for proposals which have significant legal implications for the Crown, including: litigation to which the government may become a party, issues about the lawfulness of the exercise of government power, and constitutional issues (including Treaty of Waitangi issues) (for more information see CO (16) 2 Cabinet Directions for the Conduct of Crown Legal Business)
- policy proposals leading to legislation:
- the Ministry of Justice to ensure consistency with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, the Human Rights Act 1993. This is a mandatory requirement
- the Parliamentary Counsel Office for all proposals for legislation and amendments to legislation and regulations. This is a mandatory requirement
- Inland Revenue for proposals for tax legislation and regulations. This is a mandatory requirement
- the Legislation Design and Advisory Committee who have also issued guidelines which support good legislative standards
- the Office for Māori Crown Relations – Te Arawhiti for proposals that have implications for Māori/Crown relations, takutai moana (the marine and coastal area), existing or future settlements of historical Treaty of Waitangi claims, or the Crown’s Treaty Settlement commitments (the circular CO (19) 5: Te Tiriti o Waitangi / Treaty of Waitangi Guidance includes useful guidance which can help with assessing Treaty impacts)
- the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade for proposals that have implications for New Zealand’s international relations or implications for the Pacific realm countries (i.e. Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau)
- Land Information New Zealand and the Crown Law Office for proposals involving the use, long-term lease, or disposal of Crown-owned land. Follow this link for more information about key Cabinet paper requirements.
Consultation on impacts on population groups
There are papers on a wide range of policy issues where Ministers will want to know about the impact on particular population groups. The list below indicates the departments that drafters should consider consulting in such cases, and links to tools to help with analysis where these are available:
Māori – impacts on Māori as individuals, iwi, hapū, and whānau should be considered during policy development. Te Puni Kōkiri should be consulted on proposals that may have implications for Māori as individuals, communities or tribal groupings. The Office for Māori Crown Relations–Te Arawhiti have developed engagement framework and engagement guidelines to help agencies to meaningfully consult
women – social policy papers (i.e. papers for the Cabinet Social Wellbeing Committee) must include a separate section which outlines the gender implications of the proposal. The Ministry for Women has created the Bringing Gender In tool to help examine the gender impacts of policies
people with disabilities – the Office for Disability Issues (in the Ministry of Social Development (MSD)). Social policy papers must include a separate section, which outlines the implications of the proposal for people with disabilities
youth - the Ministry of Youth Development (in the Ministry of Social Development) (MSD))
senior citizens – the Office for Senior Citizens (in MSD)
ethnic groups, including migrants, refugees, and New Zealand-born generations of ethnic groups – the Office of Ethnic Communities (in the Department of Internal Affairs) (DIA)
consumers – the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
Consultation on other cross-government issues
Some papers may also require consultation with departments that have responsibility for more specialised areas of activity with application across the government. These issues include:
- policy proposals that have a direct impact on offending and victimisation, that create or change criminal offences, infringements or penalties, or that impact on court-based procedures and workloads – the Ministry of Justice (MoJ)
- proposals affecting central government decision making processes, Ministerial ethics, Ministerial portfolios, and constitutional issues – the Cabinet Office (in DPMC)
- legislative and policy proposals that may affect the privacy of individuals, including information matching proposals – MoJ and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner
- proposals with implications for the record of government activity and the custody of government records – Archives New Zealand (in the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA))
- proposals that have implications for the collection, analysis and release of statistical information from surveys or administrative databases, or that relate to monitoring and evaluation – Statistics New Zealand
- proposals that have implications for local government or that may have an impact on particular communities – DIA. The Guide for central government engagement with local government is a useful resource to support effective engagement with local government
- proposals that have implications for the community and voluntary sector – the Office for the Community and Voluntary Sector (in DIA).