Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 6 2010 Contents 38 www.defence.gov.au/defencemagazine
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MINISTERIAL SERVICES AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS
emily Wilson – Director, CLS: (02) 6265 1178
Joel goodisson – Assistant Director, CLS: (02) 6265 5470
stacey O’callaghan – Cabinet Liaison Officer: (02) 6265 4708
Karen Harriss – Cabinet Liaison Officer: (02) 6265 5814
Harin chandradeva – Cabinet Liaison Officer: (02) 6265 4408
Did you know?
› Cabinet is a product of convention and practice. It is not mentioned in
the Australian Constitution – nor is its establishment and procedures the
subject of any legislation. The Prime Minister determines the shape and
structure of the system.
› The National Security Sub-Committee has eight permanent members and
the Secretary of Defence and the Chief of the Defence Force also attend
› Cabinet documents are the property of the government of the day:
Under the Archives Act, 1983 Cabinet documents are generally open
to public access only after 20 years. Cabinet notebooks are available
after 50 years.
Cabinet documents are exempt from requests for access to material
made under the Freedom of Information Act, 1982.
Things to remember:
› When preparing Cabinet submissions/memoranda, it is imperative that
you plan ahead, bearing in mind the internal and external deadlines that
have to be met in order for the submission/memorandum to proceed
to the preferred meeting. The CLS forecast is a very useful tool in this
regard, for it outlines the clearance and lodgement deadlines for the
SCNS/NSC cycles throughout the year
› Liaise with, and keep informed, the offices of the Secretary, the CDF and
the Minister to ensure that they agree with the contents and context of
the submission/memorandum, and are available to clear the paper prior
› Consult internally and externally, early in the policy development process
to ascertain the views/concerns of interested/affected stakeholders.
› Use the correct template and adhere to the PM&C guidelines as set out
in the Drafters Guide and the Cabinet Handbook.
› Seek CLS guidance at the earliest opportunity, and keep us informed of
the status of the submission/memorandum.
› Provide early drafts of submissions/memoranda to CLS to enable us to
proof read, and edit as required, to ensure that Defence submissions/
memoranda meet the high standard expected of us by the Minister, the
Secretary and the CDF.
Our ability as Defence
employees to provide timely,
accurate and responsive
advice and support to our
Minister and his colleagues
decision making by the
Cabinet and its Committees
matters. Positioned within
the Ministerial and Executive
Support Branch of Defence,
Cabinet Liaison Services
(CLS) manages all aspects of
Defence’s involvement in the
CLS is a small, friendly and professional team
headed by Emily Wilson. Emily is supported by
Joel Goodisson (Assistant Director), and Stacey
O’Callaghan, Karen Harriss, and Harin Chandradeva
(Cabinet Liaison Officers).
By Harin Chandradeva
LeFT: Defence’s Cabinet Liaison Services team (back row L-R):
Harin Chandradeva, Stacey O’Callaghan, Karen Harriss; (front row
L-R): Joel Goodisson, Emily Wilson and Manda Skews.
Photo: Mark Brennan
in Cabinet and its committees
“The Directorate works with subject matter experts
across Defence to ensure that the Department
appropriately supports Defence principals,
particularly the Minister for Defence, our Secretary
and the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) to enable
their meaningful participation in Cabinet and its
committees” Director CLS Emily Wilson said.
To support this objective, CLS is involved at all
stages in the development of Defence Cabinet
submissions and memoranda, and acts as the
interface between Defence and the Cabinet
Secretariat at the Department of the Prime
Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) on all Cabinet
The Cabinet is the peak of government decision-
making. It sets government’s broad direction,
takes the most important decisions and resolves
potential conflicts in government.
Some of its work sensibly falls to its committees,
with the key committee for Defence matters being
the National Security Committee (NSC).
The convention of collective responsibility of
ministers for Government decisions is central to
the Cabinet system and the agreed minutes of
Cabinet and its committees are binding on all
“The Cabinet system is fast-paced and the key to
keeping it effective is the delivery of accurate and
timely advice to decision-makers,” Director CLS
Emily Wilson said.
As the provision of high quality Cabinet documents
is a priority for the Minister, the Secretary and
the CDF expect that Defence policy proposals put
forward to Cabinet and its committees will be
well written, convincing and well consulted to
enhance the probability of collective agreement
by Cabinet. CLS is able to assist Defence officials
in developing submissions and memoranda to a
consistently high standard.
“Our submissions need to highlight the decisions
we are asking the Government to make, provide
evidence in support of our recommendations, and
indicate any areas of significant risk,” Ms Wilson
“Naturally, they also need to comply with the
Cabinet templates. But many of you will be happy
to know that work is currently under way to
simplify the templates to make them more user-
Planning ahead is also vital when preparing
Cabinet documents. Drafters should be familiar
with the Cabinet forecast (available on the CLS
website on the Defence Secret Network), which
serves to highlight forward Cabinet business,
including the various internal and external
deadlines preceding the meetings.
The external deadlines in particular are strictly
enforced by the PM&C Cabinet Secretariat. The
internal deadlines are no less important, for
it is vital that the Secretary, the CDF, and the
Minister are provided sufficient time to consider
submissions and memoranda prior to lodgement.
Another important point to remember is the
need to consult as necessary within and beyond
“Consultation within Defence is vital to ensure
that the submission/memorandum represents a
consistent whole-of-Defence view,” Ms Wilson
“Similarly, consulting with departments and
agencies with an interest in the subject matter will
facilitate the development of coordinated, whole-
of-Government policy, and will assist Defence
in gaining collective agreement for its policy
proposals at Cabinet and committee meetings.”
In addition to preparing Cabinet submissions and
memoranda, Defence officials may be called upon
to comment on submissions and memoranda put
forward by other agencies. CLS receives and tasks
requests for comments and coordination comments
to relevant areas within Defence. Once again,
action areas should, if necessary, consult other
relevant areas within Defence to ensure that the
comments reflect a whole-of-Defence view.
“If we can help you in the policy development
process, please do not hesitate to contact us,” Ms
“We are more than happy to work with your area,
as we can provide one-on-one advice to drafters or
conduct educational seminars for wider audiences.
Additionally, the CLS websites on the DRN and the
DSN are great sources of information, and contain
Cabinet document templates and the Cabinet
forecast, which is updated on a weekly basis.”
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