Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 1 2012 Contents Hot issue process change key to
DEFENCE has changed its hot issue brief process to
enhance transparency, following the release of a number
of hot issue briefs earlier this year through the freedom of
Now, hot issue briefs are released to the public no later than
one week after their submission to the Defence Minister.
Exceptions to this will be individually and personally
approved by the Secretary or the CDF and be based on a
set of criteria endorsed by the Minister.
A hot issue brief provides initial and early advice to ministers
and Defence’s senior leadership on sensitive or complex
matters or incidents that may require their immediate
Assistant Secretary Strategic Issues Management Marc
Ablong says hot issue briefs are an important part of the
department’s responsibility for keeping ministers and
Defence’s senior leadership informed of activities and
incidents within Defence.
“Generally, hot issue briefs relate to issues or incidents that
have occurred within the last two to six hours,” Marc says.
“Issues or incidents older than six hours may be reported in
hot issue briefs when media reporting is imminent or urgent
action is required by ministers or Defence’s senior leaders.”
Where an incident or issue is more than six hours old,
is not immediate, or relates to advice on upcoming and
known events, a ministerial submission for noting should be
developed rather than a hot issue brief.
“Hot issue briefs must not be used to convey departmental
advice on routine matters that do not require the immediate
attention of ministers and Defence’s senior leadership,”
To ensure a consistent standard and regular and ongoing
release, the Secretary and CDF recently endorsed a new
set of guidelines on the preparation and release of hot issue
briefs. The guidelines have been posted on the Defence
intranet and are available to help any person tasked with
preparing a hot issue brief.
The new guidelines establish formal thresholds for what
should be advised to ministers through hot issue briefs,
and guide in the preparation of that advice. Assistance and
advice is also available from Strategic Issues Management
Branch within Ministerial and Executive Coordination and
A new template has also been developed for hot issue
briefs. This template, and the guidance itself, is available on
the Ministerial and Executive Support Branch website on
the Defence intranet.
Once a hot issue brief has been submitted to ministers,
the Freedom of Information and Information Management
Branch, also within Ministerial and Executive Coordination
and Communication Division, will guide the originating
Group or Service through the process of publicly releasing
the hot issue brief.
Before public release, hot issue briefs will be redacted
in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of
Criteria for information redaction are based on the removal
of information that may:
• identify an individual without their consent;
• contain commercial-in-confidence or legal-in-confidence
• release operational or classified information.
To support the public release of hot issue briefs, a media
management strategy will be developed for each brief, if
appropriate. This will be developed by Strategic Issues
Management and Communication and Media branches
in consultation with group or service leads. Often this will
involve the development of a background brief for inclusion
in ministers’ media briefings, together with any contextual
information to be posted with the hot issue brief.
In some circumstances, the Defence Minister may direct
that information in a ministerial submission be made public
using these same criteria. In these circumstances, an
incident report will be prepared using the hot issue brief
format and will be released in line with the hot issue brief
public release process.
For more information visit the Ministerial and Executive
Coordination and Communication Division website on the
In most instances hot issue
briefs are now released publicly
one week after submission to
the Defence Minister.
Photo: Able Seaman
A hot issue brief
provides initial and early
advice to ministers and
Defence’s senior leaders
on sensitive or complex
matters or incidents that
may require immediate
The criteria for
determining if an issue
requires a hot issue brief
• the incident or issue
is immediate and fast
• the incident or issue is
sensitive for Defence,
ministers and Defence’s
senior leadership; and
• the incident or issue is
likely to affect Defence’s
reputation, or result in
Issue 1 2012
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