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3.9 Cabinet

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By convention the Cabinet of Western Australia comprises the Premier and of all the Ministers meeting together, chaired by the Premier. The Government of the day decides its system of operation. Cabinet decisions have no legal standing until they are put into effect, either by a decision of the Governor in  Executive Council or by the responsible Minister.

Cabinet's role is to make the major decisions of the Government. These include: 

  • matters which affect the portfolios of more than one Minister; 
  • significant policy decisions; 
  • authority to draft legislation; 
  • action in respect of Parliamentary or Cabinet committees; 
  • matters affecting relationships with other governments; and 
  • certain senior appointments. 

It is a convention of the Westminster system of government that Cabinet members must be Members of Parliament, although the Constitution Act 1889 only provides for at least one Minister to be a member of the Legislative Council. Traditionally, in the main most Ministers in Western Australia have come from the Legislative Assembly.

There are a number of conventions which are regarded as very important for the operation of Cabinet. The convention of collective responsibility is common to Westminster systems of government. Under this convention, Cabinet is collectively answerable to Parliament for all its actions, programs and policies.

Collective responsibility implies that each Minister will keep confidential all discussion that takes place in Cabinet.  It is argued that Cabinet confidentiality is necessary for robust debate in Cabinet and because of the sensitive nature of the issues being discussed. Another convention of Cabinet is that Ministers should publicly support Cabinet decisions and, if they cannot do so, they should resign.