Providing advice to ministers without fear or favour, to the best of their professional judgement. 

Like political neutrality, free and frank advice is an important feature of the relationship between the Public Service and the Government. Ministers have a duty under the Cabinet Manual to give fair consideration and due weight to this advice. The responsibility for advice ultimately rests with chief executives, while individual public servants help ensure their chief executives are well supported. 

The principle requires free and frank advice be provided to ministers, not to the public. The role of public servants is to explain policy to the public, not to advocate for or against it. 

Free and frank advice matters because it: 

  • improves decision-making by giving advice based on an impartial assessment of the risks and benefits of policy options 
  • improves public confidence that ministers have received such advice and that alternative perspectives have been considered.  

Guidance: Free and frank advice and policy stewardship

The Policy Project — Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet