Hey – look whose names appeared on the only press statement to be posted on The Beehive website yesterday, two days after Election Day and the first statement to be posted on the site since October 15.
The names are those of Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and Defence Minister Ron Mark.
And no, they don’t have to pack their bags just yet despite their trouncing at the polls. The rules that apply in the immediate period after election day are spelled out on the website of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet:
During the government formation process, the current government remains in office, as it is still the lawful executive authority, with all the powers and responsibilities that go with executive office.
But don’t expect anything radical to happen:
Traditionally, governments have, nonetheless, constrained their actions until the political situation is resolved, in accordance with what is known as the “convention on caretaker government”.
What can a caretaker government do?
The actions that a caretaker government can take will depend on the unofficial results on election night:
If it is clear who will form the next government, but it has not yet taken office, the existing government should undertake no new policy initiatives, and should act on the advice of the incoming government on any matter of importance that cannot be delayed.
If it is not clear who will form the next government, the normal business of government continues. Any significant matters requiring decisions should be deferred, or handled using short-term solutions. If neither of these options is possible, decisions should be made only after consultation with other parties.
Governments operated in caretaker mode in 1993 and 1996 for nine weeks, in 1999 for two weeks, in 2002 for two weeks, in 2005 for four weeks, in 2008 for 11 days, in 2011 for 18 days, and in 2014 for 18 days.
The caretaker government in 2017 lasted for 33 days while Winston Peters and his party decided to go into a coalition arrangement with Labour, thereby enabling Jacinda Ardern to become Prime Minister.
And we all know what has happened as a consequence …
But for now, Peters and Mark still have ministerial work to do and yesterday they announced the Government has deployed a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion (P-3) maritime patrol aircraft to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions imposing sanctions against North Korea.
“New Zealand has long supported the maintenance of peace and security on the Korean Peninsula,” said Mr Peters.
“This will be the third such P-3 deployment, following previous deployments in October 2019 and September 2018.
“The full implementation of UNSC sanctions resolutions is an important step towards the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearisation of North Korea. New Zealand’s P-3 deployments contribute to the international community’s collective efforts to achieve this.”
The sanctions resolutions, adopted unanimously by the UNSC between 2006 and 2017, are intended to persuade North Korea to denuclearise and abandon its ballistic missile capabilities.
Consistent with prior deployments, the P-3 will be based at Kadena Air Base, Japan. Its maritime surveillance patrol flights will be over international waters in North Asia and will take place in October-November 2020.
The deploying NZDF personnel will undertake all COVID-19 quarantine requirements upon arrival in Japan and upon return to New Zealand.
“This P-3 deployment will help detect and deter North Korea’s evasion of UNSC sanctions through illicit maritime practices such as ship-to-ship transfers,” said Mr Mark.
“As New Zealand’s third P-3 deployment for DPRK sanctions enforcement since 2018, it also reflects the Government’s commitment to addressing regional security issues in our Indo-Pacific region.”
The announcement relates to decisions made by Cabinet in June 2020.
Latest from the Beehive
19 OCTOBER 2020
The Government has deployed a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion (P-3) maritime patrol aircraft to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions imposing sanctions against North Korea, announced Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and Minister of Defence Ron Mark