27 September 2023

Public sector gears up for caretaker mode

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As the 2023 State Election inches closer, NSW Public Servants are being reminded of their obligations in the lead up to and during caretaker conventions.

Issuing Memorandum 2022-11 2023 State Election – Caretaker Conventions and an accompanying Guidance Note, Premier Dominic Perrottet said the caretaker period would commence when the Legislative Assembly was expired on 3 March 2023, prior to the election on 25 March.

“As a general rule, no significant new decisions or initiatives, appointments, or contractual undertakings should be made during the caretaker period,” Mr Perrottet said.

“Routine government business, however, should proceed as usual.”

“In addition to the formal caretaker conventions, which only apply in the caretaker period, there are other established practices that apply in the months leading up to an election,” he said.

“Many of these are directed toward protecting the political neutrality of the public service and ensuring that public resources are not misused for party political purposes.”

Mr Perrottet said some of the practises were applied from particular dates, “for example, the quarantine period for Government advertising commences two months before the election”.

However, he said that for most there was no precisely defined time at which observance was required.

“It would be prudent to assume that all pre-election practices should generally be observed in the months leading up to the election, after the last sitting day of the Legislative Assembly before the election,” the Premier said.

“DPC is available to provide advice and assistance to Agencies and Ministers should any difficulties arise in the application of the conventions to particular circumstances,” he said.

Mr Perrottet said Ministers should take particular care to ensure they did not compromise the neutrality of the Public Service in the lead up to the election and generally should not ask Agencies to provide policy advice during the caretaker period.

The 27-page Memorandum 2022-11 can be accessed at this PS News link.

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