Government sector employees are expected to be aware of and comply with the ethical obligations that arise as well as any legislative requirement affecting their employment if they intend to stand as a candidate in an election at any level of government.
‘Contesting elections – frequently asked questions’ (Attachment A) addresses the legislative and policy issues arising where a government sector employee wishes to contest an election at any level of government. The document also describes the differences between nomination and pre-selection as a candidate.
The legislative provisions in the Government Sector Employment Act 2013 (GSE Act) for resignation and reappointment in Federal elections (section 72) and leave of absence in State elections (section 71) apply to all government sector agencies, including State owned corporations (or a subsidiary). They also apply to any service in which persons excluded from the GSE Act by section 5 of that Act are employed.
Code of Ethics and Conduct for NSW government sector employees
Part 2 of the GSE Act establishes the Ethical Framework for the government sector. The government sector core values in the Ethical Framework (listed in section 7 of the GSE Act) require government sector employees to “Provide apolitical and non-partisan advice”.
Government sector employees must make sure that any participation in party political activities does not conflict with their primary duty as a public employee to serve the government of the day in a politically neutral manner.
Government sector employees are not permitted to engage in activities of a party political nature whilst on duty. Any candidate or person intending to stand should also ensure that, when making any political comments whilst not on duty, they are not identified in any way as acting or speaking in their capacity as a government sector employee.
Government sector employees should also consider any specific provisions of their agency’s Code of Conduct affecting employment.
The general obligations on government sector employees contesting elections are: