Cabinet extension activity

Cabinet rarely has only one policy proposal to debate and decide upon. In reality, ministers have to balance many priorities when making decisions. Challenge your student Cabinet with this extension activity.

In this version of the Cabinet debate, ministers have their own priorities which they must balance against the policy proposal. They are provided with a position card which lists which projects they want to see happen—perhaps more than the policy proposal before Cabinet. They must work together to agree on the chosen policy, as well as forward their own priorities.

Use the Run a Cabinet meeting classroom activity and add these instructions to the Getting started section.

  1. Choose positions. The chair of Cabinet is the Prime Minister. This position can be appointed or—as happens in reality—voted by the other members of Cabinet. Choose Cabinet ministers and distribute position cards. Ministers without a position card can choose which area they will be responsible for (for example, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs). Check the current Ministry list for the full list of ministries.
  2. Ministers review their position cards and consider the policy proposal against their own priorities. Ministers will need to prepare their arguments and negotiation tactics. They can work with their assistant ministers and/or other relevant ministers (for example, it might be a good idea at this stage to speak to the Treasurer!).


Position cards

Prime Minister

  • You have been chosen by your team to be the leader of the government
  • You have heard rumours the Treasurer is looking to take your position

Your poll numbers need a boost, so you are hoping Cabinet will support a big project that will be supported by the Australian people.


  • You want the Prime Minister’s job
  • Your number 1 priority is balancing the Budget

Your catchphrase is ‘There is no new money!‘ You are committed to all new spending proposals being balanced by savings to the Budget.

Minister for the Environment

  • You are currently negotiating a new water agreement with the states that is unpopular with Cabinet but popular with the states

You have developed a new policy to raise up to $150 million a year by increasing the fines mines are charged for polluting ground water.


Minister for Defence

  • You are worried the Treasurer will find all their Budget cuts in the Defence portfolio

The last fire season made it obvious more fire spotting planes and water bombers are needed to fight bushfires. Your department has estimated this will cost $300m over 5 years.

The focus of your department is the modernisation and expansion of Australia’s cyber warfare capabilities. This will cost $100 million over 2 years.

Minister for Foreign Affairs

  • You are concerned Australia is losing its influence in the Asia/Pacific region

You are passionate about increasing foreign aid and project spending in the Asia/Pacific region. Your proposal is to increase spending in this area by 2% a year for 5 years.

Minister for Education

  • You are concerned Australia is falling behind other nations in international testing

You are prepared to fight for at least $100 million in funding for the poorest schools in Australia.