Legal ambiguity surrounds DCGA Ministers in caretaker mode following parliament dissolution


Ministers of the Democratic Coalition for Government Advancement (DCGA) currently carrying out their duties in caretaker mode are not explicitly defined by the laws of this country.

This situation arose following the dissolution of the 11th Parliament on December 31, 2023.

The caretaker government will remain in place until the synchronized elections for National and Provincial Governments (excluding Western and Choiseul) and the Honiara City Council, scheduled for April this year.

The election is set to take place after the expiration of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2022 on January 1, 2024, allowing section 73 (3) of the Constitution to come into effect.

Despite the circumstances, a senior Parliamentary officer informed the Island Sun that the roles and powers of Ministers functioning in caretaker mode are not defined in the Constitution, any Acts of Parliament, or any statutory instruments.

Nevertheless, the senior Parliamentary officer emphasized that it is only a matter of good conventional practice to allow Ministers to oversee the implementation of decisions made prior to the dissolution of Parliament.  

This means ‘caretaker’ Crown Ministers should not commit the state to any new undertaking until a new government is elected.

This includes entering into any new international relations arrangement or committing state resources in one way or the other.

This also brings into question whether or not a ‘caretaker’ Minister should also enjoy remuneration entitlements previously enjoyed by a Minister before the dissolution of Parliament.

A clear rule is required to draw the line between what a ‘caretaker’ Minister can or cannot do during the ‘caretaker’ period.

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