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The period between the dissolution or expiration of the House of Assembly and the appointment of a new Government is known as the ‘caretaker period’.
By convention, during the period preceding a general election for the House of Assembly, the Government assumes a ‘caretaker role’.
The caretaker period recognises that:
At the time of the dissolution or expiry of the House of Assembly, the Premier will write to Ministers advising them of their role as the caretaker government and providing them with a copy of these Guidelines.
The Secretary, Department of Premier and Cabinet, will write to all Tasmanian Heads of Agencies advising them of the commencement of the caretaker period and that the caretaker conventions are to apply to all agency activities. A letter will also be sent to all Government Business Enterprises and State Owned Companies advising them of their obligations during the caretaker period.
At the conclusion of the caretaker period, the Secretary, Department of Premier and Cabinet, will write to all Tasmanian Heads of Agencies, Government Business Enterprises, and State Owned Companies, advising them that the caretaker conventions no longer apply.
During the caretaker period, the business of government continues and ordinary matters of administration continue. The role of government agencies remains unchanged; the provision of all normal services should continue and statutory responsibilities are not affected.
Successive governments have followed a set of practices, known as the ‘caretaker conventions’, which aim to ensure that their actions do not inappropriately bind an incoming government and limit its freedom of action.
While government business continues, as it applies to ordinary matters of administration, the caretaker conventions do affect some aspects of Executive Government. In summary, the conventions are that the Government avoids:
There are also established conventions and practices associated with the caretaker conventions that are directed at:
These Guidelines are intended to explain the conventions and practices in more detail and to provide guidance for the handling of business during the caretaker period. The conventions are neither legally binding nor hard and fast rules. Their application in individual cases requires sound judgement and common sense.The Secretary, Department of Premier and Cabinet is able to provide information and advice to agencies, but responsibility for observing the conventions rests with Heads of Agencies and, in matters where they are involved, with the relevant Ministers.
The Guidelines in this document apply to all Tasmanian Government Ministers, Ministerial staff and all employees and officers of Tasmanian State Service agencies.
The relationship between Ministers and bodies that are not agencies under the State Service Act 2000, such as, Government Business Enterprises and State Owned Companies, varies from body to body. However, those bodies should observe the caretaker conventions and practices unless doing so would conflict with their legal obligations or compelling commercial/organisational requirements. The Secretary, Department of Premier and Cabinet, will write to the heads of these bodies advising them of the guidelines and the commencement of the caretaker period and that the caretaker conventions apply to their organisation.
To ensure consistent application of the Guidelines, agencies should appoint a senior officer to be the initial contact for caretaker enquiries.
Enquiries about the application of caretaker conventions should be directed, in the first instance, to appointed contact officers within agencies.
If further advice is required in relation to particular issues that arise during the caretaker period, queries should be directed to the Secretary, Department of Premier and Cabinet, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.