Federal Executive Council Handbook 2021

This handbook outlines the diversity of matters submitted to the Executive Council and presented to the Governor-General and Executive Councillors.


The Handbook

  1. This Handbook provides an overview of current Federal Executive Council operations, in particular the preparation of documents for consideration by the Governor-General in Council.
  2. This edition replaces the 2019 version of the Handbook. Any updates will be advised through circulars issued by the Federal Executive Council Secretariat (‘the Secretariat’).

The Federal Executive Council

  1. The Federal Executive Council is supported by the Secretariat located in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C). The Secretariat consists of the Secretary to the Executive Council, and three additional officers. The Secretary to the Executive Council is responsible for management of the Secretariat and attends all Executive Council meetings. The Secretariat is assisted by a network of Executive Council Liaison Officers in each Australian Government department.
  2. The Secretariat is responsible for:
    1. providing advice on Executive Council practices and requirements, in particular on the presentation of documents for the Executive Council;
    2. liaison with the Official Secretary to the Governor‑General and with ministers’ offices on Executive Council arrangements;
    3. providing secretariat support for meetings of the Executive Council;
    4. ensuring that the requirements of the Governor-General and executive councillors are met; and
    5. maintaining the records of the Executive Council.
  3. All documents to be considered by the Governor-General and the Executive Council must be cleared through the Secretariat before they are finalised for ministerial signature. This practice aims to minimise the potential for embarrassment and delay if final papers are found to be incorrect or deficient and require redrafting.
  4. Departments and agencies are encouraged to make full use of the Secretariat’s expertise in ensuring that Executive Council requirements and standards are met. While the appendices to this Handbook provide models for the presentation of generic documents, the Secretariat can assist with advice on details of process and presentation.