The Executive Council is a very important part of the governmental decision making and approval process. Its principal purpose is to advise the Governor on matters relating to the government of the State and to formalise decisions made by the State Government. It is chaired by the Governor, includes at least two members of the Ministry and has as its secretary the Director General of the Department of the Premier and Cabinet. Executive Council meets at least fortnightly and will convene for special meetings when requested by the Premier.
Some of the issues considered by Executive Council include:
- the allocation to Ministers of responsibilities for Acts, departments and instrumentalities;
- the proclamation of Acts passed by Parliament;
- the appointment of members of the judiciary and senior public officials;
- appointments to government boards and committees; and
- the formal approval and making of orders, regulations, by-laws and local laws.
The current practice followed by Executive Council is for papers to be submitted for consideration by the Governor five days before the Council meeting. This gives an opportunity for the Governor to raise questions and to seek clarification if necessary. In rare cases, a paper might be withdrawn with the relevant Minister’s approval for further departmental and ministerial consideration. This process enables the actual meetings of Council to flow smoothly.
Section of the Constitution Act and the Constitution Acts Amendment Act refer to the responsibilities of the Governor in Council. Section 60 of the Interpretation Act 1984 (WA) provides that, in most instances, a reference to the ‘Governor’ in any Act means the Governor in Executive Council. Accordingly, it is generally necessary to seek Executive Council approval for any matter referred to in legislation as requiring the approval of the Governor.
Upon being appointed to the Executive Council, a Minister takes an oath or affirmation not to reveal matters discussed in Executive Council.