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    9.1 Basic conventions and practices

    Successive Commonwealth and State Governments have accepted that special arrangements apply in the period immediately before an election, in recognition of the considerations that:

    • with the dissolution of the Legislative Assembly, there is no popular Chamber to which the Executive Government can be responsible; and
    • every general election brings with it the possibility of a change of government.

    By convention, the government assumes a caretaker role from the time that the Legislative Assembly is dissolved, and ensures that decisions are not taken which would bind an incoming government and limit its freedom of action.

    The basic caretaker conventions require a government to avoid implementing major policy initiatives, making appointments of significance or entering into major contracts or undertakings during the caretaker period. The basic conventions are directed to the making of decisions, and not to policy announcements. The caretaker conventions do not, of course, apply to new policy promises which a government may announce as part of its election campaign.

    There are other established practices, usually regarded as part of the caretaker conventions, which govern activities in the election period. These are mainly directed at ensuring that departments should avoid any partisanship during an election campaign. They address matters such as the nature of requests that Ministers may make of their departments, procedures for consultation by the Opposition with departmental officers, travel by Ministers and their Opposition counterparts and the continuation of government advertising campaigns.

    Adherence to the conventions and practices (which have no formal legal standing) is ultimately the responsibility of the Premier. Where Ministers are in doubt about a particular matter, they should raise it with the Premier.

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    Last updated:
    18 May, 2016
    Last reviewed:
    17 July, 2009