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Labour reminded about caretaker convention

Bill English MP
National Party Finance Spokesman

13 November 2008

Labour reminded about caretaker convention

National Party Finance Spokesman Bill English today reminded the outgoing Labour government and the public service about the conventions that operate around caretaker governments.

“National is the government-in-waiting. Labour is the outgoing government, and is subject to the usual caretaker conventions.

“The actions of the outgoing Labour government in circulating to the media a Treasury memorandum on the economic outlook labelled ‘in-confidence-very preliminary’ shows that these conventions are not thoroughly understood.

“The conventions mean that neither the outgoing government, nor its officials, should enter into any significant policy decisions or financial transactions without the approval of the incoming government.

“Approval of the incoming government is required for the release of sensitive and confidential information. The convention applies to public entities and SOEs.

“An incoming government should not be bound by decisions or actions of a government that has effectively lost office,” Mr English says.

Ends


Below: Cabinet Manual citation


General
6.16 On occasion, it may be necessary for a government to remain in office for some period, on an interim basis, when it has lost the confidence of the House, or (after an election) until a government is sworn in following the government formation process. During such periods, the incumbent government is still the lawful executive authority, with all the powers and responsibilities that go with executive office. However, governments in this situation have traditionally constrained their actions until the political situation is resolved, in accordance with what is known as the convention on caretaker government.
_Clear outcome
6.24 Where it is clear which party or parties will form the next government but Ministers have not yet been sworn in, the outgoing government should:
a. undertake no new policy initiatives; and
b. act on the advice of the incoming government on any matter of such constitutional, economic or other significance that it cannot be delayed until the new government formally takes office - even if the outgoing government disagrees with the course of action proposed.
_6.25 Situations of this kind are likely to be relatively short-lived, as the Constitution Act 1986 enables a swift transition between administrations once the composition of the new government has been confirmed.


ENDS

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