The pre-election period

The three months leading up to the general election are called the pre-election period.

Political rights of State servants

Generally, State servants have the same political rights and freedoms as other New Zealanders.  They must not confuse their political rights with their employment responsibilities.  More senior State servants, and State servants working closely with Ministers should avoid active involvement in political activity if it could be seen as conflicting with their political neutrality obligations.

Government advertising and publicity

Advertising and publicity campaigns that inform people about Government policy or their rights and obligations do not need to stop.  Restraint is required around advertising and publicity in the pre-election period that may create a perception that government funds are being used to finance publicity for party political resources.

Communicating with the media

Media interest in the activities of government and its agencies increases during the election period.  Agencies and Ministers' offices need to have protocols in place to ensure that media enquiries are handled promptly, and only by those who are authorised to do so.

Interacting with social media

State servants should only contribute to social media, as an agency representative, with express approval.  State servants who contribute to social media in a private capacity must not do anything that may harm the reputation of their agencies or of the State services.

Contact with Members of Parliament and political parties

State servants should follow their agencies' established protocols for contact with MPs and political parties during the election period.

Use of agency resources

Agency premises and resources must not be used for electioneering, or to display party political material.  State servants should not provide their work place contact details to political organisations or receive political material through their agency's email or internet facilities.

Union activity in the workplace

Unions are entitled to carry out representation activities in the pre-election period.  Union material made available to State servants in workplaces must not be visible to the public and must not represent political advertising.

Further Guidance

  • These questions and answers complement the State Services Commission’s comprehensive guidance for the 2017 general election period, which can be found http://www.ssc.govt.nz/parliamentary-elections
  • You should seek advice, in the first instance, from your managers. The State Services Commission also provides further guidance and support. Please email election@ssc.govt.nz, or telephone (04) 495 6600 and ask for the Election Guidance Team.

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