Governor-General Acts On Prime Minister Turnbull’s Advice; Caretaker Period Ends

Government House has released correspondence between Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove which brings the election’s caretaker period to an end.

The documents show that Turnbull wrote to the Governor-General the day after the election to advise him the outcome was uncertain and that he would continue in a caretaker capacity until the results were clear. Cosgrove accepted this advice.

Yesterday, Turnbull again wrote to Cosgrove to advise him that the government was now in a position to command majority support in the House of Representatives, either in its own right or with the support of crossbenchers, and that the Opposition Leader had conceded defeat. Cosgrove accepted this advice.

The effect of this is to remove the restrictions on the government’s ability to make policy decisions, appointments and other significant political decisions. The period of caretaker government has ended.

Some commentators assert that there is a role for the Governor-General in determining who is commissioned to form a government. The letters show that these decisions continue to be made by the elected representatives and the Governor-General acts on the advice of his prime minister. Even in the event of a hung parliament, as the events of 2010 demonstrated, the Governor-General does not act unilaterally, but on the advice of his or her chief adviser. [Read more…]


Government House Releases Double Dissolution Documents

Government House has released the documents related to today’s announcement of a double dissolution election on July 2.

The documents include the formal advice tendered by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove and Cosgrove’s written assent to the advice.

A statement from the Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis, has also been released. It sets out the legal position of the legislation twice rejected by the Senate and demonstrates how Section 57 of the Constitution has been satisfied.

The documents also show the hand-written annotations of the Governor-General. [Read more…]


Caretaker Conventions During The Federal Election

With the 2016 double dissolution federal election expected to be formally called tomorrow, the Turnbull government will soon go into caretaker mode.

The caretaker period usually begins when the Parliament is dissolved. This could take place as early as Monday, but must take place by close of business on Wednesday in order to satisfy the constitutional requirements of Section 57.

The caretaker conventions are based on the idea that the executive government can no longer he held to account by the Parliament. Therefore, during the election period, the government makes no major policy decisions or appointments and doesn’t enter into contracts, agreements or arrangements that would bind a future government. Any significant decisions that have to be made require consultation with the Opposition. [Read more…]


Governor-General’s Proclamation Summoning Parliament

The Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, has issued a proclamation summoning the Parliament to meet on November 12.

The proclamation is issued under Section 5 of the Constitution, which empowers the Governor-General to “appoint such times for holding the sessions of the Parliament as he thinks fit”.

As in all such matters, the proclamation is issued on the advice of the Prime Minister. It is the government that has decided when Parliament is to meet, not the Governor-General. [Read more…]


Why Is Kevin Rudd Still Prime Minister?

The federal election was held ten days ago. The Labor government was defeated. Tony Abbott has announced his new ministry. But Kevin Rudd is still prime minister.

Rudd will remain prime minister until tomorrow morning.

At that time, Abbott will be sworn in as prime minister and his ministers will take the oath of office.

Rudd-Abbott

Until that moment, Kevin Rudd remains caretaker prime minister, as he has been since the beginning of the election campaign.

This is quite normal.

  • In 2007, Kevin Rudd won the election on November 24 but was not sworn in as prime minister until December 3. John Howard remained prime minister until that date.
  • In 1996, the election was held on March 2 but John Howard did not replace Paul Keating as prime minister until March 11.
  • In 1983, the election was held on March 5 but Bob Hawke was not sworn in to replace Malcolm Fraser until March 11.
  • In 1949, the election was held on December 10 but Robert Menzies was not sworn in to replace Ben Chifley until December 19.

Excluding the immediate installation of Malcolm Fraser as prime minister, following the dismissal of Gough Whitlam, on November 11, 1975, the fastest transfer of the prime ministership in recent decades took place in 1972. Because Gough Whitlam wanted to get down to business immediately, he was sworn in as prime minister three days after the December 2 election in which he had defeated William McMahon and the Liberal-Country Party coalition. Whitlam and his deputy, Lance Barnard, served as a two-man government until December 19.

Transferring the Prime Ministership

The process followed this year by Rudd and Abbott is part of a long tradition.

On September 8, the day after the election, Rudd tendered his resignation to the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce.

Rudd

In resigning, Rudd surrendered his commission to the Governor-General. Bryce accepted Rudd’s resignation but asked him to remain as caretaker prime minister until the swearing-in of the new ministry.

Bryce

Rudd’s resignation will take effect the second that Abbott is sworn in. In this way, there is always a prime minister in place. [Read more…]


Prime Minister, It’s Time To Sack Kevin Rudd

Julia Gillard should sack Kevin Rudd.

Kevin RuddShe should have done it around 10.30pm on Monday night when his breach of the Cabinet principle of collective responsibility was being digested by the Q&A audience.

Of course, not only has Gillard not sacked Rudd, she hasn’t even shown any sign of slapping him down.

Asked about Rudd’s comments last Monday, government ministers have been at pains to say that they don’t want to rake over “history”. Gillard said she would leave discussion and analysis of the matter to “the historians”.

But it’s not history – not yet. The matters in question are as relevant now as they were exactly a year ago. As they were then, a carbon price and an emissions trading scheme are front and centre of today’s political debate. The Gillard government’s fate hinges on its handling of these issues. [Read more…]


Day 12: Peril

There was no mistaking the danger the Gillard government faced yesterday.

That there is someone inside the government, someone “close to home”, who is leaking damaging allegations to the media, brought intrigue and treachery to the election campaign. It wreaked havoc with the political messages Labor has been transmitting for the past two weeks.

The allegation that the Prime Minister spoke out in Cabinet against pension increases and the parental leave plan fed into the most damaging impression of all, that she is not what she seems.

It is especially dangerous because it’s the very same allegation that hovered around Kevin Rudd before Gillard deposed him a month ago. [Read more…]