NSW Cabinet is the key decision-making body of the NSW Government. Cabinet papers are significant historical documents as they reflect decisions made at the highest levels of government. Yet they also reveal how the Cabinet has been concerned with issues affecting local communities and individuals.
The NSW Cabinet papers are the primary centrally-maintained set of records documenting Cabinet meetings. They cover the full range of documents associated with the meetings including agenda, minutes of meetings, and Cabinet minutes prepared by government departments and ministerial offices relating to matters to be considered. These are often accompanied by attachments: financial impact statements, draft policies and other appendices. Also included are ministerial submissions concerning draft policies and proposals to be discussed; correspondence, such as that requesting items to be placed on the agenda; and lists of subjects discussed and decisions reached.
Access to State Archives is provided by part 6 of the State Records Act 1998.
The purpose of this part of the Act is to ensure a balance between the protection of sensitivity in records for as long as necessary on the one hand and the rights of the people of New South Wales to access State records on the other.
There is an explicit presumption that records that are at least 30 years old should be open to public access. This ensures the protection of any confidential or sensitive personal information in records. Any assessment as to whether records should be open or closed to public access must have regard to the presumption that records should be opened to public access after 30 years.
The Act requires public offices to give an access direction (whether the records are open or closed) for all their records that are at least 30 years old in the 'open access period'.
In the case of Cabinet Papers, an open to public access direction has been authorised by the Department of Premier and Cabinet. This means the records are open to public access after 30 years.