‘CARETAKER’ CONVENTIONS AND OTHER PRE-ELECTION PRACTICES 2019 GENERAL STATE ELECTION Successive Commonwealth and State Governments have accepted over the years that special arrangements apply in the period immediately before an election. In particular, in the period following the dissolution of the lower house of Parliament, the Government assumes a ‘caretaker’ role. For the 2019 election, the official caretaker period will commence on 1 March 2019. The caretaker period runs from 1 March 2019 until either the election result is clear (if the current Government is returned) or the new Premier is commissioned to form Government (if there is a change of Government). The conventions regarding this caretaker period recognise that, following the dissolution of the lower house, the Executive Government cannot be held accountable to the Parliament in the normal manner. The conventions also recognise that every general election carries with it the possibility of a change of government and, therefore, that significant decisions that would bind an incoming Government and limit its freedom of action should be avoided. In addition to the formal caretaker conventions, there are other established practices that apply in the lead up to the election. 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. Some of these practices apply from particular dates (for example, the quarantine period for government advertising commences two months before the election). For most, however, there is no precisely defined time at which observance is 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. In this guidance, the pre-election period refers to the period from after the Legislative Assembly ceases to sit until the commencement of the caretaker period on 1 March 2019. Source
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