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Cabinet Office circular

CO (20) 6: Government Decision Making during the Period of Caretaker Government

Issue date: 
Monday, 19 October 2020
Issue status: 
Version note: 

Intended for:

  • All Ministers
  • All Chief Executives
  • Chief of Staff, Prime Minister's Office
  • All Senior Private Secretaries
  • Speaker of the House of Representatives
  • Chief Parliamentary Counsel
  • Controller and Auditor-General
  • Chief Ombudsman
  • Official Secretary, Government House


1Following the general election on 17 October 2020, the Leader of the Labour Party has announced that she is able to lead a government that has the support of a majority of the House.

2In accordance with the convention on caretaker government, the incumbent government will govern in a caretaker capacity until the appointment of the new government. Current Ministers will continue in office during this transitional period.

3The declaration of the official election results is expected by 2.00 pm on Friday 6 November, and the return of the writ and the declaration of successful list candidates by Thursday 12 November (or 4-5 days thereafter in the event of recounts).

4This circular provides guidance for Ministers and government agencies[1] on:

4.1the application of the caretaker convention;

4.2taking decisions during the period of caretaker government;

4.3Cabinet meetings;

4.4role of Ministers

4.5guidance on support from the State sector for any negotiating parties. 

5The guidance in this circular supplements the information in Cabinet Office circular CO (20) 5 Constitutional Procedures after the Election, issued on 31 August 2020.


  1. [1] For the purposes of this circular, “government agencies” means agencies in the State sector, including Public Service departments, other State services, agencies in the wider State sector (see paragraphs 3.3-3.5 of the Cabinet Manual for a complete definition of the State sector), and other agencies within Ministers’ portfolios that do not form part of the State sector.
Last updated: 
Monday, 19 October 2020

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