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40      National Cabinet

Senator Patrick, pursuant to notice, moved general business notice of motion no. 782—That the Senate—

(a)              notes that:

(i)                    the Prime Minister has established a ‘National Cabinet’ comprising of the Prime Minister, state premiers, and territory chief ministers,

(ii)                  the Prime Minister has claimed that National Cabinet is to be part of the Federal Government’s Cabinet system and subject to requirements of Cabinet secrecy, and 

(iii)                the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet has claimed National Cabinet’s records and deliberations are exempt completely from release under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 , and Cabinet secrecy has also been applied to the deliberations of other bodies including the National COVID-19 Advisory Commission and the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee; 

(b)              considers:

(i)                    the creation of National Cabinet as a part of the Federal Cabinet system to be inconsistent with long-established principles of responsible Cabinet Government in Australia, and

(ii)                  that the assertion of Cabinet secrecy in relation to National Cabinet and the deliberations of associated bodies is excessive, impedes the proper scrutiny of Executive Government, and is not supported by the law; and

(c)              urges consideration is given to the introduction of legislation that would place key aspects of long-established and accepted Cabinet convention and practice on a statutory basis.

At 5.30 pm : Debate was interrupted while Senator Patrick was speaking.