About NT Cabinet and Executive Council

Cabinet submissions and decisions are an important record of the decisions of successive Northern Territory (NT) administrations. 

They cover a wide range of issues relating to the social, political and economic development of the NT.

The NT Cabinet is made up of government ministers who together make decisions on matters such as any of the following: 

  • major policy issues
  • proposals with significant expenditure or employment implications 
  • matters that involve important initiatives or departures from previous arrangements 
  • proposals that affect Australian, state and local government relations 
  • legislation
  • high-level government appointments.

The first Cabinet records created under NT self-government in 1978 become open for public access on 1 January 2009. 

On 1 January each year, the Northern Territory Archives Service (NTAS) releases the Cabinet records from 30 years before under the Information Act 2002.

Background to NT Cabinet

In 1977, the Commonwealth Government began transferring executive powers to the Legislative Assembly in preparation for NT self-government. 

On 1 January 1977, the NT public service was created and administrative powers relating to a number of state functions such as police, fire brigades, local government and correctional services were transferred from the Commonwealth to the NT. 

Other functions such as health and the Supreme Court were gradually transferred from the Commonwealth Government to the NT Government.

Once the Fraser Federal Government enacted the Northern Territory (Self Government) Act 1978 (Commonwealth) the NT was established under the Crown with limited state-like powers from 1 July 1978. 

The Act extended the powers of self-government in the NT by providing for the Legislative Assembly and the appointment of an Administrator. The Executive Council was established, which included the ministers of the NT Government.

The major state powers retained by the Commonwealth Government in the NT include Aboriginal land rights, the mining of uranium and other prescribed substances, industrial relations and control of Commonwealth National Parks. 

For inter-governmental financial purposes the NT has been regarded by the Commonwealth as a state since 1 July 1988.

For more information about the previous administrations of the NT go to the History of the Northern Territory Parliament website.

Read brief guide to Executive Council records. (334.6 kb)

Cabinet submissions

Most business comes before Cabinet through formal Cabinet submissions. These are identified with a consecutive number. 

Cabinet submission generally follow a set format with a cover sheet, which has brief details of the submissions such as the following:

  • title
  • purpose
  • sponsoring minister
  • relationship of the proposal to existing policy
  • timing considerations
  • staffing implications
  • costs.

This is followed by the body of the submission, which includes recommendations, background materials, options, budget implications, timing issues and other key topics. 

There can be attachments to the submission. 

Submissions are usually prepared by government agencies at the direction or agreement of the minister responsible for that agency. 

Submissions can include comments from other NT Government agencies, which were consulted during the development of the submission.

Cabinet decisions

Each decision made by Cabinet is formally recorded in a document known as a Cabinet decision. 

Like Cabinet submissions, each Cabinet decision is given a consecutive number. 

Most Cabinet decisions will have a corresponding Cabinet submission, but Cabinet can also issue a Cabinet decision without a submission. 

The decision number is not the same as the corresponding submission number. Except for a small number of early submissions and decisions in a new government's term when the numbers may coincidentally align.

Cabinet submissions and decisions are filed by meeting date and bound in volumes.

Read brief guide to Cabinet submissions and decisions (320.2 kb).

Other Cabinet papers

Ministers can sometimes present memoranda to Cabinet, or table a document at a Cabinet meeting. 

These documents will generally be incorporated in the formal records of the Cabinet meeting. Such documents will usually result in a Cabinet decision, but not in every case.

Last updated: 11 October 2017