The Cabinet Manual has been an authoritative guide to New Zealand’s system of central government decision making since the publication of the first edition, then known as the Cabinet Office Manual, in 1979. This is the seventh edition of the Cabinet Manual. Successive governments have recognised the need for guidance to provide the basis on which they will conduct themselves while in office. The Cabinet Manual fulfils this need.
One of the great strengths of the Cabinet Manual is that it is not set in stone: it is updated periodically, and as a result reflects changes in political, administrative, legislative and constitutional arrangements and language. The content of this edition of the Cabinet Manual represents an orderly and continuous development of the conventions and procedures of Cabinet government.
In this edition, some guidance, such as that concerning the principles of the public service and consultation process during development of bills, has been clarified and expanded. Other guidance has been updated to reflect new legislation, such as the Privacy Act 2020, or to reflect changes in practice, like the ability for Cabinet and Cabinet committees to meet remotely if required. For the first time, the texts of the Treaty of Waitangi / Te Tiriti o Waitangi are appended to the Cabinet Manual.
The Cabinet Manual focuses on principles. It provides guidance, rather than prescribing rules. Detailed guidance and information on Executive Council, Cabinet, and Cabinet committee processes is contained in the CabGuide, an online resource at dpmc.govt.nz/publications/cabguide.
The Cabinet Manual is produced in hard copy, and published online on the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s website. Any substantial updates required before the next review will be incorporated into the online version. Users of the Cabinet Manual in hard copy are encouraged to check the website for updates regularly.
The review of the Cabinet Manual has been a significant task for the Cabinet Office over the past few years. I would like to acknowledge and thank all those who have contributed to the review, whether by revising existing text, or drafting new material. My particular thanks to the Cabinet Office team who coordinated the review project, and to our late friend and colleague Catherine Parkin.
The Cabinet Manual is a valuable guide, not just for those working in or with executive government, but for anyone who has an interest in New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements and the systems and processes of executive government. I know that this latest edition will continue to be an important work of reference for all those with an interest in the governance of Aotearoa New Zealand.
Secretary of the Cabinet and Clerk of the Executive Council