Cabinet of New Zealand

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The Cabinet of New Zealand (Māori: Te Rūnanga o te Kāwanatanga o Aotearoa) is a council of senior Government ministers, responsible to the New Zealand Parliament. Cabinet meetings, chaired by the Prime Minister, occur once a week where vital issues are discussed and government policy formulated. The Cabinet has significant power in the New Zealand political system and nearly all bills proposed by the Cabinet in Parliament are enacted.

All Cabinet ministers also serve as members of the Executive Council. Outside the Cabinet, there is an outer ministry and also a number of non-Cabinet ministers, responsible for a specific policy area and reporting directly to a senior Cabinet minister.

Legislative basis[edit]

No legislative act established the Cabinet: rather, it exists purely by constitutional convention. This convention carries sufficient weight for many official declarations and regulations to refer to the Cabinet, and a government department exists with responsibility for supporting it (the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet). Although Cabinet lacks any direct legislative framework for its existence, the Cabinet Manual has become the official document which governs its functions, and on which its convention rests.[1]

The structure of Cabinet has as its basis the formal institution known as the Executive Council. Most Ministers hold membership of both bodies, but some Executive Councillors – known as "ministers outside Cabinet" – do not have Cabinet positions. The convention of members of the Executive Council meeting separately from the Governor began during Edward Stafford's first tenure as Premier (1856–1861). Stafford, a long-time advocate of responsible government in New Zealand, believed the colonial government should have full control over all its affairs, without the intervention of the Governor. Because the Governor chaired the Executive Council, Stafford intentionally met with his ministers without the Governor present.

Members[edit]

All ministers have the style of "The Honourable", except for the Prime Minister, who is styled "The Right Honourable".[2]

The tables below list New Zealand's cabinet ministers and ministers outside Cabinet as of May 2017.

Party Key National Party
United Future NZ
Māori Party
ACT
Ranking Portfolios Incumbent Responsibilities Electorate
1. Prime Minister The Rt Hon. Bill English MP Minister Responsible for Ministerial Services List
Minister of National Security and Intelligence
2. Deputy Prime Minister The Hon. Paula Bennett MP Upper Harbour
Minister of State Services
Minister for Women
Minister of Tourism
Minister of Police
Minister for Climate Change Issues
3. Minister of Finance The Hon. Steven Joyce MP List
Minister of Infrastructure
4. Minister of Foreign Affairs The Hon. Gerry Brownlee MP Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission Ilam
5. Minister for Economic Development The Hon. Simon Bridges MP Associate Minister of Finance Tauranga
Minister of Transport Leader of the House
Minister for Communications
6. Minister of Justice The Hon. Amy Adams MP Minister Responsible for Social Investment Selwyn
Minister for Courts Minister Responsible for Housing New Zealand Corporation
Minister for Social Housing Associate Minister of Finance
7. Minister of Health The Hon. Dr Jonathan Coleman MP Northcote
Minister for Sport and Recreation
8. Attorney General The Hon. Chris Finlayson QC MP Minister in Charge of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service List
Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Responsible for the Government Communications Security Bureau
Associate Minister for Māori Development
9. Minister of Immigration The Hon. Michael Woodhouse MP Deputy Leader of the House List
Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety
Minister for ACC
10. Minister for Children The Hon. Anne Tolley MP East Coast
Minister for Social Development
Minister of Local Government
11. Minister for Primary Industries The Hon. Nathan Guy MP Associate Minister for Economic Development Otaki
Minister of Civil Defence
12. Minister of Education The Hon. Nikki Kaye MP Auckland Central
Minister for Youth
13. Minister of Trade The Hon. Todd McClay MP Rotorua
Minister for State Owned Enterprises
14. Minister for the Environment The Hon. Dr Nick Smith MP Nelson
Minister for Building and Construction
15. Minister of Revenue The Hon. Judith Collins MP Papakura
Minister of Energy and Resources
Minister for Ethnic Communities
16. Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage The Hon. Maggie Barry ONZM MP North Shore
Minister of Conservation
Minister for Seniors
17. Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment The Hon. Paul Goldsmith MP List
Minister of Science and Innovation
Minister for Regulatory Reform
18. Minister of Corrections The Hon. Louise Upston MP Associate Minister of Education Taupo
Associate Minister of Primary Industries
Associate Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment
19. Minister for Pacific Peoples The Hon. Alfred Ngaro MP Associate Minister of Children List
Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector Associate Minister for Social Housing
20. Minister of Defence The Hon. Mark Mitchell MP Associate Minister of Justice Rodney
Minister for Land Information
MINISTERS OUTSIDE OF CABINET
21. Minister for Disability Issues The Hon. Nicky Wagner MP Associate Minister of Conservation Christchurch Central
Minister supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration Associate Minister of Health
Associate Minister of Tourism
22. Minister for Small Business The Hon. Jacqui Dean MP Associate Minister for ACC Waitaki
Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Associate Minister of Local Government
23. Minister for Food Safety The Hon. David Bennett MP Hamilton East
Minister of Veterans Affairs
Minister of Racing
24. Minister of Customs The Hon. Tim Macindoe MP Associate Minister of Education Hamilton West
Associate Minister of Transport
25. Minister of Statistics The Hon. Scott Simpson MP Associate Minister for the Environment Corromandel
Associate Minister of Immigration
SUPPORT PARTY MINISTERS (OUTSIDE CABINET)
- Minister of Internal Affairs The Hon. Peter Dunne MP Associate Minister of Conservation Ohariu
Associate Minister of Health
- Minister for Māori Development The Hon. Te Ururoa Flavell MP Associate Minister for Economic Development Waiariki
Minister for Whanau Ora
PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARIES
- Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister of Education David Seymour MP Epsom
Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister for Regulatory Reform
PARLIAMENTARY PRIVATE SECRETARIES
- Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister for Ethnic Communities Melissa Lee MP List
- Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister for Ethnic Communities Dr Jian Yang MP List
- Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister of Police Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi MP List
- Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development Jonathan Young MP New Plymouth

All Ministers, both inside and outside Cabinet are Executive Council Members.

Parliamentary Private Secretaries have no Government rank, but merely assist the Ministers from a Parliamentary standpoint, and represent the Minister they assist when they are unavailable.[3]

Powers[edit]

The lack of formal legislation establishing Cabinet leaves the powers of its members only loosely defined. The Cabinet generally directs and controls policy (releasing government policy statements) and is responsible to Parliament. It also has significant influence over lawmaking. Convention regarding the Cabinet's authority has considerable force, and generally proves strong enough to bind its participants. Theoretically, each minister operates independently, having received a ministerial warrant over a certain field from the Crown (represented by the Governor-General). But the Governor-General can dismiss a minister at any time, conventionally on the advice of the Prime Minister, so ministers are largely obliged to work within a certain framework.

Cabinet itself acts as the accepted forum for establishing this framework. Ministers will jointly discuss the policy which the government as a whole will pursue, and ministers who do not exercise their respective powers in a manner compatible with Cabinet's decision risk losing those powers. This has become known as the doctrine of collective responsibility.[4] Problems arise when the Prime Minister breaches collective responsibility. Since ministerial appointments and dismissals are in practice in the hands of the Prime Minister, the Cabinet can not directly initiate any action against a Prime Minister who openly disagrees with their government's policy. On the other hand, a Prime Minister who tries to act against concerted opposition from their Cabinet risks losing the confidence of their party colleagues. An example is former Prime Minister David Lange, who publicly spoke against a tax reform package which was sponsored by then-Finance Minister Roger Douglas and supported by Cabinet. Lange dismissed Douglas, but when the Cabinet supported Douglas against Lange, Lange himself resigned as Prime Minister.

Meetings[edit]

The Ministers of the Fifth Labour Government in 2005, with then Governor-General Dame Silvia Cartwright, 20 October 2005.

The Cabinet typically meets weekly in the Beehive (the executive wing of the Parliament Buildings),[2] where it discusses important political issues. The Prime Minister usually chairs the meeting and sets the agenda.

Committees[edit]

A Cabinet Committee comprises a subset of the larger Cabinet, consisting of a number of ministers who have responsibility in related areas of policy. Cabinet Committees go into considerably more detail than can be achieved at regular Cabinet meetings, discussing issues which do not need the input of ministers holding unrelated portfolios. There are currently 10 Cabinet Committees.[5]

Cabinet Committees will often discuss matters referred to them by Cabinet itself, and then report back the results of their deliberation. This can sometimes become a powerful tool for advancing certain policies, as was demonstrated in the Lange government. Roger Douglas, Minister of Finance, and his allies succeeded in dominating the finance committee, enabling them to determine what it recommended to Cabinet. The official recommendation of the finance committee was much harder for his opponents to fight than his individual claims in Cabinet would be. Douglas was able to pass measures that, had Cabinet deliberated on them itself rather than pass them to Committee, would have been defeated.

Cabinet Strategy Committee[edit]

Chaired by Rt Hon Bill English MP, Prime Minister.[6]

All Portfolios are relevant.

Current Members are;

  • Rt Hon Bill English
  • Hon Paula Bennett 
  • Hon Steven Joyce 
  • Hon Gerry Brownlee
  • Hon Simon Bridges
  • Hon Amy Adams
  • Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman
  • Hon Christopher Finlayson QC
  • Hon Michael Woodhouse
  • Hon Anne Tolley 
  • Hon Nathan Guy

Cabinet Economic Growth and Infrastructure Committee[edit]

Chaired by Hon Steven Joyce MP, Minister of Finance.[7]

Relevant Portfolios are;

  • Building and Construction
  • Greater Christchurch Regeneration
  • Civil Defence
  • Climate Change Issues
  • Commerce and Consumer Affairs
  • Communications
  • Conservation
  • Customs
  • Economic Development
  • Energy and Resources
  • Environment
  • Finance 
  • Food Safety
  • Immigration
  • Infrastructure
  • Internal Affairs
  • Land Information
  • Local Government
  • Māori Development
  • Primary Industries
  • Racing
  • Regulatory Reform
  • Revenue
  • Science and Innovation
  • Small Business
  • State Owned Enterprises
  • Statistics
  • Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment
  • Tourism 
  • Trade
  • Transport
  • Workplace Relations and Safety

Current Members are;

  • Rt Hon Bill English
  • Hon Paula Bennett 
  • Hon Steven Joyce 
  • Hon Gerry Brownlee
  • Hon Simon Bridges 
  • Hon Amy Adams
  • Hon Michael Woodhouse 
  • Hon Anne Tolley
  • Hon Nathan Guy
  • Hon Todd McClay
  • Hon Dr Nick Smith 
  • Hon Judith Collins
  • Hon Maggie Barry
  • Hon Paul Goldsmith
  • Hon Louise Upston 
  • Hon Alfred Ngaro
  • Hon Nicky Wagner
  • Hon Mark Mitchell
  • Hon Jacqui Dean
  • Hon David Bennett
  • Hon Tim Macindoe
  • Hon Scott Simpson
  • Hon Te Ururoa Flavell

Cabinet Social Policy Committee[edit]

Chaired by Hon Amy Adams MP, Minister of Justice, Minister for Courts, and Minister Responsible for Social Investment.[8]

Relevant Portfolios are;

  • ACC
  • Arts, Culture and Heritage
  • Attorney-General
  • Children
  • Community and Voluntary Sector
  • Corrections
  • Courts
  • Disability Issues
  • Education
  • Ethnic Communities
  • Health 
  • Justice
  • Māori Development
  • Pacific Peoples
  • Police
  • Seniors
  • Social Development 
  • Social Housing
  • Social Investment
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment
  • Veterans’ Affairs
  • Whanau Ora
  • Women
  • Youth

Current Members are;

  • Rt Hon Bill English
  • Hon Paula Bennett
  • Hon Steven Joyce
  • Hon Amy Adams
  • Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman
  • Hon Michael Woodhouse
  • Hon Anne Tolley
  • Hon Nikki Kaye
  • Hon Judith Collins
  • Hon Maggie Barry
  • Hon Paul Goldsmith
  • Hon Louise Upston
  • Hon Alfred Ngaro
  • Hon Nicky Wagner
  • Hon David Bennett
  • Hon Tim Macindoe
  • Hon Peter Dunne
  • Hon Te Ururoa Flavell
  • David Seymour MP

Cabinet Committee on Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations[edit]

Chaired by Rt. Hon Bill English MP, Prime Minister.[9]

Relevant Portfolios are;

  • Attorney-General
  • Conservation
  • Environment
  • Land Information
  • Local Government
  • Maori Development
  • Primary Industries
  • Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations

Current Members are;

  • Rt Hon Bill English
  • Hon Steven Joyce
  • Hon Christopher Finlayson QC
  • Hon Anne Tolley
  • Hon Nathan Guy
  • Hon Dr Nick Smith
  • Hon Maggie Barry
  • Hon Mark Mitchell
  • Hon Jacqui Dean
  • Hon Scott Simpson
  • Hon Te Ururoa Flavell

Cabinet External Relations and Defence Committee[edit]

Chaired by Hon Gerry Brownlee MP, Minister of Foreign Affairs.[10]

Relevant Portfolios are;

  • Defence 
  • Foreign Affairs
  • GCSB 
  • Immigration
  • National Security and Intelligence
  • NZSIS
  • Police
  • Primary Industries
  • Trade

Current Members are;

  • Rt Hon Bill English
  • Hon Paula Bennett
  • Hon Steven Joyce
  • Hon Gerry Brownlee
  • Hon Simon Bridges
  • Hon Christopher Finlayson QC
  • Hon Michael Woodhouse 
  • Hon Nathan Guy
  • Hon Todd McClay
  • Hon Mark Mitchell

Cabinet Committee on State Sector Reform and Expenditure Control[edit]

Chaired by Hon Steven Joyce MP, Minister of Finance.[11]

All Portfolios are relevant.

Current Members are;

  • Rt Hon Bill English
  • Hon Paula Bennett
  • Hon Steven Joyce 
  • Hon Simon Bridges
  • Hon Amy Adams 
  • Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman
  • Hon Michael Woodhouse 
  • Hon Anne Tolley 
  • Hon Nikki Kaye
  • Hon Judith Collins
  • Hon Mark Mitchell
  • Hon David Bennett
  • Hon Tim Macindoe
  • Hon Peter Dunne

Cabinet Legislation Committee[edit]

Chaired by Hon Simon Bridges MP, Leader of the House.

All Portfolios are relevant.

Current Members are;

  • Rt Hon Bill English
  • Hon Steven Joyce
  • Hon Simon Bridges 
  • Hon Amy Adams
  • Hon Christopher Finlayson QC 
  • Hon Michael Woodhouse
  • Hon Nikki Kaye
  • Hon Judith Collins
  • Hon Paul Goldsmith
  • Hon Jacqui Dean
  • Jamie-Lee Ross (Senior Government Whip)

Cabinet Appointments and Honours Committee[edit]

Chaired by Rt Hon Bill English MP, Prime Minister.[12]

All Portfolios are relevant.

Current Members are;

  • Rt Hon Bill English
  • Hon Paula Bennett
  • Hon Steven Joyce
  • Hon Gerry Brownlee
  • Hon Amy Adams
  • Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman
  • Hon Christopher Finlayson QC
  • Hon Anne Tolley
  • Hon Nikki Kaye
  • Hon Maggie Barry
  • Hon Alfred Ngaro
  • Hon Peter Dunne
  • Hon Te Ururoa Flavell
  • David Seymour MP

Cabinet Business Committee[edit]

Chaired by Rt Hon Bill English MP, Prime Minister.[13]

All Portfolios are relevant.

Current Members are;

  • Rt Hon Bill English
  • Hon Paula Bennett
  • Hon Steven Joyce
  • Hon Gerry Brownlee
  • Hon Simon Bridges
  • Hon Amy Adams
  • Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman
  • Hon Christopher Finlayson QC
  • Hon Michael Woodhouse
  • Hon Anne Tolley

Cabinet National Security Committee[edit]

Chaired by Rt Hon Bill English MP, Prime Minister.

Relevant Portfolios are;

  • Civil Defence
  • Defence
  • Foreign Affairs
  • GCSB
  • National Security and Intelligence
  • NZSIS
  • Police
  • Prime Minister

Current Members are;

  • Rt Hon Bill English
  • Hon Paula Bennett
  • Hon Steven Joyce
  • Hon Gerry Brownlee
  • Hon Simon Bridges
  • Hon Amy Adams
  • Hon Christopher Finlayson QC
  • Hon Michael Woodhouse 
  • Hon Nathan Guy
  • Hon Mark Mitchell

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Cabinet Manual". cabinetmanual.cabinetoffice.govt.nz. Cabinet Office of New Zealand. Retrieved 31 August 2016. 
  2. ^ a b "Cabinet government". Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 1 September 2016. 
  3. ^ "Parliamentary Private Secretaries appointed". The Beehive. Retrieved 2017-05-30. 
  4. ^ "Cabinet Manual: Cabinet". Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. 2008. Retrieved 2 March 2011. 
  5. ^ "Cabinet Committees | DPMC". www.dpmc.govt.nz. Retrieved 2017-05-24. 
  6. ^ "Cabinet Strategy Committee (STR) | DPMC". www.dpmc.govt.nz. Retrieved 2017-05-24. 
  7. ^ "Cabinet Economic Growth and Infrastructure Committee (EGI) | DPMC". www.dpmc.govt.nz. Retrieved 2017-05-24. 
  8. ^ "Cabinet Social Policy Committee (SOC) | DPMC". www.dpmc.govt.nz. Retrieved 2017-05-24. 
  9. ^ "Cabinet Committee on Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations (TOW) | DPMC". www.dpmc.govt.nz. Retrieved 2017-05-24. 
  10. ^ "Cabinet External Relations and Defence Committee (ERD) | DPMC". www.dpmc.govt.nz. Retrieved 2017-05-24. 
  11. ^ "Cabinet Committee on State Sector Reform and Expenditure Control (SEC) | DPMC". www.dpmc.govt.nz. Retrieved 2017-05-24. 
  12. ^ "Cabinet Appointments and Honours Committee (APH) | DPMC". www.dpmc.govt.nz. Retrieved 2017-05-24. 
  13. ^ "Cabinet Business Committee (CBC) | DPMC". www.dpmc.govt.nz. Retrieved 2017-05-24.