Following a General Election and confirmed vote count, political parties may negotiate to form a government under Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) election rules.

The introduction of MMP in 1996 also included a process to allow political parties access to the State sector to gather information on implications and costs of policies, during negotiations to form a coalition government.

Information and analysis can include:

  • information on existing government policy;
  • information relating to party proposals, including costings, policy implications and implementation considerations; and
  • analysis on effects of modifying/combining policies.

This year the State Services Commissioner revised procedures to provide greater confidentiality for political parties. More on this below.

The State sector had to balance the provision of accurate information with tight deadlines. Informed assumptions were made and costings were provided for high-level allocative purposes. As a result, there may be differences between the information provided to parties under this basis and any final figures and information that would inform Government policy.

Following this year’s General Election, there were eight separate requests with thirty-three questions from three negotiating parties.  In addition, two questions were declined as they fell into the category of advice rather than information and analysis.

Requests received from negotiating parties, information provided by Agencies and supporting correspondence is all proactively released here.

See the Media Stateemnt related to this release: Information for negotiations to form government released

Background

 

In 1996 when MMP was adopted, a process was agreed for negotiating parties to gain access to the Public Service for information. This process is outlined in the Cabinet manual.     

The process is led by the State Services Commissioner, who is responsible for maintaining the political neutrality of the State services while ensuring negotiating parties appropriately receive relevant information from the State sector. The Commissioner exercises this role by:

  • issuing guidance for the State Sector on appropriate conduct for officials during the negotiation phase to form a government; and
  • coordinating the process of officials providing information to political parties, which involves providing a single and neutral contact point for receiving requests for information and maintaining oversight of responses.

For the 2017 election, the State Services Commissioner also:

  • strengthened the confidentiality of this process by allowing parties to obtain Prime Ministerial approval for threshold access to the State sector for all possible information requests. Historically each request had to be individually approved by the Prime Minister.
  • issued new guidance providing more detail on how to seek information from the State sector;
  • established a standing committee of Central Agency leaders to assess proposed responses and ensure each response met the criteria of information and analysis.

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