It is the accepted practice of State, Territory and Commonwealth Governments in Australia that special operating arrangements apply in the caretaker period immediately before and after an election.
During the caretaker period, the ongoing business of government service delivery and administration continues. However, successive Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Governments have followed a series of accepted practices, known as the "caretaker conventions" which aim to ensure that their actions do not bind an incoming government or limit its freedom of action. In summary, the conventions are that the Governments avoids:
- making major policy decisions that are likely to commit an incoming government;
- making significant appointments; and
- entering into major contracts or undertakings.
The caretaker conventions also prescribe arrangements that reinforce the apolitical nature of the ACT Public Service (ACTPS) by avoiding the use of Territory resources in a manner that advantages a particular party. In so doing, they also aim to prevent controversies about the role of the public service distracting attention from the substantive issues in the election campaign.
The guidelines apply to ministers, ACTPS Directorates, and all other ACT Government agencies and entities. All ministers and public employees are expected to uphold the caretaker conventions as set out in these guidelines, which have been endorsed by the Chief Minister.
- Australian Capital Territory 2016 General Election Guidance on Caretaker Conventions [229 KB] Word version [ 261 KB]
Further information can be found at the Elections ACT website.