Parliamentary Lesson Plans
Executive government: Executive decision making
Lesson plan target
- Students: Middle to upper secondary
- Level: Moderate
The centre of power in the federal government is the Executive. In this lesson, students identify situations where executive decision making is necessary and form ministries and a Cabinet to plan and present a proposal for a year-level formal.
- explore executive decision making in the federal Cabinet
- understand the need for executive decisions
- explore how executive decisions are implemented through government departments.
- What is an executive? (a person or group with the authority to act)
- What is an executive decision? (a decision taken to act upon an issue without conference or reference to other participants whom they might represent)
- Why do governments need to make executive decisions?
- What powers should the Executive have?
- Executive decision
- Executive powers
- Executive Council
- Separation of powers
- Responsible government
- Ask students to imagine playing a game of chess in which half of the class is playing the other half.
- How would each side decide how to move? What factors might affect the quality of the decisions? (degree of experience, leadership, argument, indecision etc.)
- What if a time limit were set at three minutes per move? Would fewer people make more effective decisions?
- What if a time limit of one minute per move were set? Who, from each side, might make the most effective decisions? Why?
- Ask students to consider a situation that needs critical attention (e.g. a natural disaster, threat of war, outbreak of disease etc.)
- Lead a discussion about how best to manage the crisis including making an effective course of action. Ask: What decisions need to be made and who should make them?
- What are these decisions called? (executive decisions)
- What is the government body that makes executive decisions? (the Cabinet)
- Ask students to imagine that the class is a government responsible for planning and implementing a year-level formal. The budget for the event is $2,000 and Cabinet ministers must present proposals for expenditure to the teacher (acting as the wider school community).
- Brainstorm the portfolios (areas of responsibility) required to implement the formal (project leader, venue officer, treasurer, designer, music coordinator, food officer etc.)
- Now select ministers to fill each role and create appropriate titles. (e.g. Prime Minister, Minister for Design, Minister for Hospitality, Minister for Sound, Admin Minister, Security Minister etc.)
- Divide the remaining students among the ministers to form government departments.
- Set a time limit for ministers to meet with their departments to write a brief proposal stating what goods and services will be provided by the department for the formal. (e.g. Department of Hospitality: what refreshments, cost, caterer etc.)
- Ask the ministers to meet as the Cabinet. Present the following hypothetical situations for the relevant minister to respond to:
- a) The manager of the selected venue calls one week prior to the formal and says the venue has burnt down.
- b) The food does not arrive on the night and the caterer is not contactable.
- c) The Minister for Sound is taken sick early in the process and unable to implement the music proposal.
- d) The Treasurer loses the class funds ($50/student) one week after Cabinet is formed.
- e) Issued tickets include incorrect information.
- f) Students from another school gatecrash the social and vandalise the school ground.
- How well did the ministers respond to the hypothetical situations?
- How well did the ministers represent the interests of their departments?
- What type of decision making did the Cabinet use across the whole activity? Was this process similar to the chess example?
- Should (or did) ministers consult their departments during the hypothetical? On which issues? Did they need the support of their departments at any time?
- What critical situations require executive decisions? (disasters, call for elections, decisions to go to war etc.)
- What on-going executive decisions might the Cabinet commonly make? (decisions related to legislation proposals, the national agenda, government policy, crisis management etc.)
- What decisions should not be left to the Executive? (changing the Constitution, choosing federal representatives etc.)
- Essay 1: 'Executive power is necessary for effective governance.' Discuss in 300 words or more.
- Essay 2: Cabinet meetings are secret. Explain in 200 words why this is so.
- Essay 3: The Executive sits in the Legislature (the Parliament). What, if any, are the problems of having ministers contributing to law-making in the Parliament and then implementing laws through their departments? Is this a strength or weakness of the Westminster system?
Executive (the): branch of government which administers the law; the group of people from the governing party who make policy and control government departments, and who are answerable to the Parliament for the way they run the government; a group or person who manages.
Executive decision: having the authority to put important laws and decisions into effect without recourse to governing bodies or other entities.
Cabinet (the): key group of decision making ministers in executive government.
Documents and resources
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