Anne Tiernan discusses the caretaker conventions (The Conversation, 6.2.15) as Queensland waits for the election result.
‘ … the caretaker conventions do not prevent the ordinary business of government from continuing. Departments continue to prepare incoming government briefs as required to under the conventions; programs continue to be administered; and payments continue to be made on current contracts, projects and so on.
‘All this requires sensitivity and judgement and above all, the need to avoid controversy. There are no hard-and-fast rules.
‘If urgent or unexpected matters arise – such as a natural disaster – it falls to officials to liaise with the caretaker premier and opposition leader and to broker a bipartisan agreement. This is not always easy. Public servants must find ways to navigate a neutral path in the treacherous partisan waters of political combatants, who are facing off when the stakes have never been higher.’