Cabinet is the highest decision making body in the Executive which is charged by the Constitution with the general direction and control of the Government and is the principal instrument of policy. Cabinet is traditionally convened on a weekly basis, although it may meet as the circumstances dictate. It is a confidential, closed forum that enables Cabinet Ministers to collectively and frankly discuss and decide on matters of significant interest to the Government and the public; as well as to keep them informed about matters of public interest or controversy. Cabinet considers a range of issues concerning Government; particularly significant policy issues, strategic issues, controversial matters, public urgency concerns, proposals that affect the Government’s financial position, important financial commitments, legislation and regulations, as well as machinery of Government matters.
The business of Cabinet is underpinned by the democratic principles of collective responsibility; accordingly all Cabinet Ministers accept and uphold responsibility for all Cabinet Decisions, regardless of their personal views. The Prime Minister has an important and central role as ‘primus inter pares’ to lead and coordinate the Government and oversee its general policy direction.
The Cabinet is supported by a Cabinet Committee system which, as in most Commonwealth countries, largely serves two main purposes: to relieve the burden on the Cabinet; and to provide a mechanism for more in-depth collective consideration of major policy issues and matters of significant public interest. Ideally, the Cabinet Committee system is ‘intended to be greater than simply the sum of its constituent parts’, as the system is designed to make available to Cabinet Ministers a specialized cadre of senior public officials who bring together wider knowledge, expertise and perspectives of varying Ministries, Departments and Agencies to increase the likelihood of better conclusions. The recommendations of all Cabinet Committees are then referred to Cabinet for final decision.