Are Ministers public officers and do they create public records?
A Minister is not a public officer. The Public Records Act 1973 (the Act) s2 defines public officers as those employed by a public office. As Ministers are elected officials, they are not employed by a public office and are therefore not public officers.
Documents made or received by Ministers are not public records (regardless of the content) as they are not made or received by a public officer in the course of their duties.
The office of a Minister is not a public office. Records relating to the establishment and administration of the ministerial office (including the records of ministerial advisors) are not public records under the definitions of the Act.
The actions and decisions of the Minister as documented by departments and other agencies are public records and are managed by those agencies in accordance with the Act. This includes records received by the Minister that were sent by departments and other agencies. The versions of these records held by Minister or within ministerial offices are considered to be copies of the public records held in departments and other agencies and are not required to be managed as public records.
While the majority of records held by a Minister or in a ministerial office are not public records, there may be some records held that were public records before they arrived and therefore remain public records. Examples of this type of public record are given in the next section.
|Type of Record||Public Record (Y/N)||Description|
|Departmental / agency records||
Managed by the relevant Department or Agency
|Government agency or departmental records (including correspondence requiring ministerial response from the Government agency) are generally managed within the relevant department or agency with the version held by a Minister or ministerial office considered a copy, and therefore not a public record.
Should an agency or department, as part of their activities and functions, provide a Minister or minister’s office with a public record (and not a copy) for the Minister to comment on or review, which is then retained in the Ministers files, the records remain public records under the Act and must be returned to the relevant agency or department.
|Cabinet-in-Confidence (CiC) records||
Managed by the Cabinet Secretariat
Cabinet-in-Confidence records are public records. A Minister or minister’s office may hold Cabinet-in-Confidence records that are circulated by the Cabinet Office or submitted by departments/agencies within the Minister’s portfolio.
See Cabinet records for further information
|Records of the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly||
Yes (by arrangement)
Managed by protocols
|Records created by the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and President of the Legislative Council, are parliamentary records that are considered to be public records by arrangement with PROV. They are managed and disposed of in accordance with Parliament's ‘Archival Policy including Retention and Disposal Guidelines’ and protocols established by PROV for their transfer to the Victorian Archives Centre.|
|Records of the President of the Legislative Council||
Yes (by arrangement)
Managed by protocols
|Party political records||No||Records of the political party or communications between the Minister and the political party.|
|Personal records of the Minister||No||Records generated or received by a Minister in their personal capacity.|
|Records of the Electoral Office||No||Records relating to the establishment and administration of the electoral office including party political material.|
|Records of the Electorate||No||Records of and communications between the Minister and their electorate.|
Management of records held by a Minister or Ministerial Office
The management and disposal of public records held by a Minister or their Office must be in accordance with the Public Records Act 1973 and the records concerned should be returned to the relevant department or agency to enable appropriate management to take place.
It is advisable that the management and disposal of ministerial records that are not public records consider the various legal, financial and administrative requirements relevant to the records. These may include:
- specific retention periods and requirements (for instance records relating to contracts, finance, taxation and employment); or
- management and access (for instance privacy).
PROS 07/01 Common Administrative Functions Retention and Disposal Authority (RDA) may be used as a general guide to identify categories of records and indicate retention and disposal periods.