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    9.7 Guidelines for consultation by the Opposition

    In order to ensure a smooth transition in the event of a change of government, the following guidelines for pre-election consultation between the Parliamentary Opposition and departmental officers should apply.

    These guidelines may come into operation before the caretaker period, and apply as soon as the election announcement has been made or two months before the expiry of the term of the Legislative Assembly, whichever date occurs first. Like the practice in all other Australian jurisdictions, consultations during the caretaker period are conducted through informal discussions:

    • Consultations with departments are initiated by the Opposition spokesperson making a request for access to the relevant Minister, who will notify the Premier as to the nature of the request and as to whether it has been granted.
    • The subject matter of the discussion between officers and the Opposition spokespersons relates to the machinery of government and administration and the resources generally available in the portfolio area as they would relate to the implementation of Opposition policy. Officers are not authorised to discuss the merits of policies of either the government or the Opposition.
    • Officers are to inform Ministers when the discussions are taking place and Ministers are entitled only to seek assurances that the discussions are kept within the agreed purposes. The content of the discussion is confidential to the participants.
    • Departments will be represented in such discussions by the Chief Executive Officer and an appropriate officer with relevant expertise from the Department of the Premier and Cabinet.
    • For the purpose of facilitating consultation, the Chief Executive Officer should seek details of the likely topics for discussion so that relevant information can be made available during the deliberations. Information should only be presented in the form in which it exists at the time of the consultation (eg. annual reports, program statements, etc.). Alternatively, information can be communicated orally.
    • The creation of documents for, or records of, consultations should be avoided. The confidentiality of matters raised during discussions should remain insulated from partisan political debate during an election period. Specific material generated for, or notes taken during, the meeting would form an official record of the proceedings and seriously undermine the requisite confidentiality of the consultation particularly if the records subsequently became public.
    • Departments will be expected to prepare two sets of briefing documents for the incoming government. One set will be drafted on the basis that the current government is returned, the second set on the basis that a new government is elected. Both sets of briefing documents should aim to provide the incoming Minister with a comprehensive statement of the organisation, structure, budget, functions and major current issues facing the department.
    • Queries about approval of particular requests for consultation should be handled between a Minister and the Premier. Requests which involve an unreasonable amount of work by the department may properly be denied.

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