Departments that own the preparation of a Cabinet paper are responsible for ensuring that appropriate consultation is undertaken, that other departments are given reasonable time to comment, and that their views are accurately reflected in the paper. Consultation will ensure that Ministers receive sound, comprehensive, and co-ordinated policy advice, enabling them to have all relevant information in front of them when they take decisions.
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. A phone call can be used to establish whether a department wishes to comment.
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).
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 through 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.
Consultation with the 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 Statement.
Consultation on matters of general importance
Ministers also want assurance that the issues in papers have been assessed for their implications for matters of general importance to the government. These matters include legal obligations, human rights issues, regulatory impact and compliance cost implications, implications for key population groups, 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 those issues of general importance:
- proposals having 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) – the Crown Law Office (for more information see CO (16) 2 Cabinet Directions for the Conduct of Crown Legal Business)
- policy proposals leading to legislation:
- consistency with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, the Human Rights Act 1993 – the Ministry of Justice. This is a mandatory requirement
- all proposals for legislation and amendments to legislation and regulations – the Parliamentary Counsel Office (proposals for tax legislation and regulations must be consulted with Inland Revenue). This is a mandatory requirement
- proposals that may have implications for Maori as individuals, communities, or tribal groupings – Te Puni Kokiri
- proposals involving legislation where the Legislation Design and Advisory Committee will provide drafting assistance
- proposals that may have implications for existing or future settlements of historical Treaty of Waitangi claims - the Office of Treaty Settlements and Post Settlements Commitments Unit (both part of the Ministry of Justice)
- proposals involving the use, long-term lease, or disposal of Crown-owned land - Land Information New Zealand, and the Crown Law Office.
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:
- women – the Ministry for Women (on the requirements for gender analysis for papers for the Cabinet Social Wellbeing Committee)
- youth - the Ministry of Youth Development (in the Ministry of Social Development) (MSD)
- people with disabilities – the Office for Disability Issues (in 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)
- the Pacific Island community – the Ministry for Pacific Peoples
- 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 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 regulatory implications for local government – DIA;
- proposals that have implications for the community and voluntary sector – the Office for the Community and Voluntary Sector (in DIA).
Agency Portfolio Groups in CabNet
Each CabNet user agency has one or more associated Agency Portfolio Groups. Each Agency Portfolio Group includes the name of the agency and the name of the portfolio that the agency supports. A list of the Agency Portfolio Groups is on the Public Service Intranet (PDF 224 KB).
Staff that have been authorised to have a CabNet user account will be a member of one or more Agency Portfolio Groups within their agency. Refer to the section on user management for more information on managing CabNet user accounts.
It is important that the correct Agency Portfolio Groups are nominated in CabNet as this will provide access to the members of the nominated Agency Portfolio Groups at the appropriate point in the consideration process.