|Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency|
The Executive Council is a body appointed under the Governor's Letters Patents and Royal Instructions. Since the introduction of responsible Government in 1855, the Executive Council has given effect to Cabinet (VA 2989) and ministerial decisions. Between 1851, when Victoria was separated from New South Wales, and 1855, the Council consisted of the Lieutenant Governor and appointed officials to provide him with advice (four in 1851, five in 1854 and six from 22 May 1855).
The Victorian Constitution Act 1855 required at least four of the then seven principal officers of Government to be members of Parliament (section XVIII). This provision was replaced by the Officials in Parliament Act 1859, the original basis of the current provision in the Victorian Constitution Act 1975 (No.8750). Sections 50-51 of this Act provide that officers appointed by the Governor as responsible Ministers of the Governor shall also be members of the Executive Council and provisions for their appointment appears in the Letters Patent constituting the Office of Governor (VA 466).
The Council, consisting of Executive Councillors under summons (namely, members of the current Ministry or Cabinet), usually meets weekly or as required. The quorum of three comprises the Governor and at least two Ministers. These meetings are of a formal nature and are presided over by the Governor or in his/her absence by his/her Deputy.
Where it is provided in the statutes that the Governor-in-Council may make proclamations, orders, regulations, appointments to public offices and so on, the Governor acts formally with the advice of the Executive Council, but actually in accordance with Cabinet or Ministerial decisions. (See also VA 466 Governor.)
Administrative support to the Executive Council has been the responsibility of the Clerk of the Executive Council.
From 1901 until 1911 the position of Clerk of the Executive Council was located within the Chief Secretary's Department (VA 475). From 1911 the Clerk of the Executive Council was required to perform the duties of the Official Secretary to the Governor. These duties continued to be jointly performed by the one officer until 1986.
The Official Secretary to the Governor/Clerk of the Executive Council was located within the Chief Secretary's Department (VA 475) until 1936 when the position was transferred to the Department of the Premier (VA 2717). From 1982 until 1986 the position was located within the Department of the Premier and Cabinet (VA 1039). In 1986 the responsibilities of the Official Secretary to the Governor were assumed by the former Secretary to the Governor (see VA 466 Governor's Office) and the Clerk of the Executive Council once again became a separate position.
The Clerk of the Executive Council is currently located within the Department of the Premier and Cabinet (VA 1039).
As it appears that the Chief Secretary and the Premier have had responsibility for personnel matters only the movement of the position between the departments has not been shown as a function transfer.
Location of Records
Significant holdings of Executive Council records are in the custody of the Public Record Office, including the Council's Minutes, 1851-1970.
NOTE: Although the Clerk of the Executive Council has been located within the Departments of State of the Chief Secretary and the Premier since 1901 the records maintained by the Clerk have been attributed throughout to the Executive Council.
See also List of Holdings 2nd edition 1985, section 6.1.0.