Cabinet considers a range of intergovernmental matters, which can generally be brought to Cabinet for noting. This includes where ministers are attending intergovernmental meetings (such as ministerial councils) that deal with significant policy or program issues, or issues that have a cross portfolio impact.

A Cabinet note should be prepared ahead of these meetings to advise Cabinet of the agenda and the minister’s intended position on significant items. However, where ministers are attending intergovernmental meetings that are more routine in nature, it is not necessary to advise Cabinet ahead of the meeting.

In some instances - if for example the minister intends to signal South Australia’s participation in a National Partnership Agreement or other intergovernmental agreement, particularly if there are unbudgeted state costs involved - the minister should prepare a Cabinet submission seeking Cabinet approval.

It is not necessary to advise of the outcomes of ministerial council meetings unless issues of significance arise at the meeting, or outcomes are significantly different from those Cabinet was advised of before the meeting. Cabinet Office can provide advice on which intergovernmental matters need to be brought to Cabinet on a case-by-case basis.

Responses to inquiries and reviews

Responses to inquiries and reviews (for example a Commonwealth Senate inquiry) must only be made where there is a clear strategic value or benefit to the state, for example, where there are major cross portfolio or significant policy or system implications. Agency-level technical commentary does not need to come to Cabinet before being submitted.

It is recommended that agencies obtain their minister’s approval before commencing work on a response to an inquiry. If a response is to be prepared, it should be a whole of government response using the Submission to Inquiry by SA Government template (DOCX, 387.0 KB).

South Australian Government responses must be brought to Cabinet before they are submitted. This is generally done via a Cabinet note, although in cases where the response may be particularly controversial or represents a major policy change, Cabinet approval may be required via a Cabinet submission. Cabinet Office can provide advice on this.

This also extends beyond formal inquiries to include responses to issues papers, green papers and Commonwealth departmental reviews.

Responses should be prepared as if they are public documents (unless an exemption from publication has been granted).

The strategic value or benefit in making a submission should be explained to Cabinet. Cabinet should also be advised of the manner and timing of the response’s publication.

Council of Australian Government (COAG) and intergovernmental agreements

The government’s negotiating position on matters for discussion at COAG and the Council for the Australian Federation (CAF) must be approved by Cabinet.

The outcomes of these meetings should also be noted by Cabinet if the state’s position was not adopted.

These submissions must consider:

  • the context of the government’s overall approach to relations with local, Commonwealth and other state and territory governments
  • the relationship between proposed intergovernmental matters and South Australian Government policy.

As a general rule, all intergovernmental agreements require the approval of Cabinet prior to being signed by the Premier or the responsible minister. However, there are some exceptions to this.

  • For national partnerships that anticipate the need for implementation plans, and where the financial impact of these is already known and clearly stated, Cabinet can be asked to approve the responsible minister agreeing to the implementation plans without the need for further Cabinet approval.
  • For project agreements and implementation plans requiring additional expenditure authority, that authority can be granted by the Executive Director, Budget and Performance branch in the Department of Treasury and Finance (DTF), as long as DTF and the responsible chief executive are satisfied that:
  • For agencies with more than $100 million in total income per annum (as per the agency’s income statement), the value of the new agreement is less than $1 million annually and $10 million of the life of the agreement
  • For agencies with less than $100 million in total income per annum (as per the agency’s income statement), the value of the agreement is less than 1% of the agency’s total income annually and less than 10% of the agency’s total income over the life of the agreement.
  • In other cases where:
  • The revenue provided in the agreement equals the expense within the forward estimates period
  • The agreement relates to the core business of the agency
  • The agreement does not require the agency to take on additional permanent staff
  • The agreement does not establish an ongoing program or service to third parties with time-limited funding
  • The agreement does not extend or change the state’s policy settings and
  • The total national funding pool is known and the South Australian share of revenue is equal to or less than our population share (noting that Cabinet needs to be aware of any possible impact on GST revenue; agencies should seek the advice of DTF on this issue).

Contact Cabinet Office, Intergovernmental Relations or the DTF Budget Branch for assistance or queries.