Insight
4
min read

What are the Federal Cabinet committees?

Published on
October 6, 2022
Author
William Wright
for GovConnex Research
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Your guide to the Cabinet committees

Everything you need to know about the Australian Federal Government’s Cabinet committees

What is a Cabinet committee?

  • In addition to the 63 House, Senate, and Joint parliamentary committees, there are 7 Cabinet committees within the Albanese Labor Government.
  • These committees are typically the most important and powerful committees within a federal government due to their direct reporting to the Federal Cabinet.
  • The members of these committees are typically senior Cabinet ministers. It is worth noting who is given responsibility to sit on these committees, as these will often be the Cabinet ministers with the most internal influence.
  • The Expenditure Review Committee and the National Security Committee are traditionally the two most important and influential of the Cabinet committees that make specific economic and defence policy decisions respectively.
  • Decisions of each of the Cabinet committees require the endorsement of the Federal Cabinet.

What are the current Cabinet committees?

Constitutional Recognition Committee (CRC)

The CRC focuses on advancing the Constitutional recognition of First Nations peoples, including an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

Key points:

  • The Government lists the CRC as their number one Cabinet committee, signalling the importance of an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. Perhaps an indication that this is the most important policy objective of the Government’s first term.

Chair - The Hon. Linda Burney MP

Deputy Chair - The Hon. Mark Dreyfus QC MP

Members:

  • Senator Don Farrell
  • The Hon. Amanda Rishworth MP
  • Senator the Hon. Murray Watt
  • The Hon. Matt Thistlethwaite MP
  • The Hon. Patrick Gorman MP
  • Senator Jenny McAllister
  • Senator Patrick Dodson
  • Senator Malarndirri McCarthy
  • The Hon. Madeleine King MP

Expenditure Review Committee (ERC)

The ERC considers new expenditure and revenue proposals during and between Budget updates, including gender responsive budgeting.

Key points:

  • Traditionally the most important and powerful of the Cabinet committees, it proposes and approves government expenditure. The members of the ERC hold the pursestrings of the Government.
  • The Government explicitly lists “gender responsive budgeting” as a key objective of the ERC. Oxfam defines “gender responsive budgeting” as a “budget that works for everyone (women and men, girls and boys) by ensuring gender-equitable distribution of resources and by contributing to equal opportunities for all”.
  • The Social Services portfolio is no longer within the ERC.
  • Chaired by the Prime Minister.

Chair - The Hon. Anthony Albanese MP

Deputy Chair - The Hon. Dr. Jim Chalmers MP

Members:

  • The Hon. Richard Marles MP
  • Senator Penny Wong
  • Senator Katy Gallagher
  • The Hon. Mark Butler MP
  • The Hon. Catherine King MP
  • The Hon. Michelle Rowland MP
  • The Hon. Stephen Jones MP

National Security Committee (NSC)

The NSC considers matters related to Australia's national security, including strategic priorities, operational matters, and activities of the intelligence community.

Key points:

  • The Government’s peak body on national security and foreign policy questions, yielding significant influence over these crucial policy areas.
  • Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen sits on the NSC, implying that Labor believes and is treating climate change as a national security risk.
  • Chaired by the Prime Minister.

Chair - The Hon. Anthony Albanese MP

Deputy Chair - The Hon. Richard Marles MP

Members:

  • Senator Penny Wong
  • The Hon. Dr. Jim Chalmers MP
  • The Hon. Chris Bowen MP
  • The Hon. Mark Dreyfus QC MP
  • The Hon. Clare O'Neil MP
  • Senator Katy Gallagher
  • The Hon. Pat Conroy MP

Government Communications Subcommittee (GCS)

The GCS provides oversight and coordination of Government advertising campaigns.

Chair - Senator Katy Gallagher

Deputy Chair - The Hon Jason Clare MP

Members:

  • Senator Don Farrell
  • The Hon. Mark Butler MP
  • The Hon. Tanya Plibersek MP
  • Senator Murray Watt

National Security Investment Subcommittee (NSIS)

The NSIS considers national security investments and procurements that are not considered by NSC to ensure they are aligned with Australia's strategic priorities, achieve best value, and are implemented on schedule.

Chair - Senator Katy Gallagher

Deputy Chair - The Hon. Richard Marles MP

Members:

  • The Hon. Clare O'Neil MP
  • The Hon. Pat Conroy MP

Parliamentary Business Committee (PBC)

The PBC considers priorities for the Government's legislation program.

Chair - The Hon. Tony Burke MP

Deputy Chair - Senator Penny Wong

Members:

  • Senator Katy Gallagher
  • The Hon. Mark Butler MP
  • The Hon. Patrick Gorman MP

Priority and Delivery Committee (PDC)

The PDC provides regular oversight of the delivery of key Government policies and priorities.

Chair - The Hon. Anthony Albanese MP

Deputy Chair - Senator Katy Gallagher

Member:

  •  The Hon. Dr. Jim Chalmers MP

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