The Cook Islands Party government was put on caretaker mode by Queen’s Representative Tom Marsters in April this year when he announced the June 14 election.
The incoming government, likely to be led by the Democratic Party coalition, is expected to be announced after the final election count later this week.
“The (incumbent) government remains in caretaker mode until such time as the Queen’s Representative is satisfied that there is a government that has the support of the majority of parliament and invites the leader of that majority to form a new government,” said Bredina Drollet, the chief of staff at the Office of the Prime Minister.
“This cannot happen before the final election count is announced by the chief electoral officer. Petitions could present further delays in the forming of a new government.”
During this period, PM Puna and his cabinet retain their executive roles to ensure the day-to-day administration of government continues, said Drollet.
During this time there were limits on their executive decision-making powers, she said, and convention requires that the caretaker government’s actions do not bind an incoming government or limit their freedom of action.
“Specifically, the caretaker government avoids making major policy decisions that are likely to commit an incoming government, and avoids making significant appointments or entering into major contracts or undertakings,” Drollet said.
“In cases where a decision or action contrary to these conventions is necessary to be taken, the Government Opposition should be consulted.
“During the caretaker period, government continues to operate and implement existing services and policies.”
Drollet said decisions taken prior to the calling of the election were considered to be existing policy and were generally expected to continue to be implemented.