Integrity and conduct obligations

This guidance sits alongside the State Services Commissioner's Standards of Integrity and Conduct, agency policies and processes, and employment obligations.

At work, State servants must meet high standards of integrity and conduct and be politically neutral at all times. This guidance discusses the expectations of integrity and conduct, including political neutrality, for the State services over the election period.

Read the State Services Commissioner’s Standards of Integrity and Conduct.

Read the Cabinet Manual: Integrity and conduct throughout the state sector.

Political neutrality obligations

In serving the government of the day, State servants must be impartial and politically neutral. Political neutrality is a constitutional convention that supports the Government’s trust in the State services to work in an impartial way. Political neutrality helps to manage potential for conflict between the State services’ policy advice role and the Government’s decision-making and advocacy role.

The political neutrality convention applies to the State services at all times, including in relation to elections, by-elections and referendums. While State servants have the same rights of political expression as other members of the public, State servants must respect other people’s rights and interests in the workplace. Chatting about politics or policy in a private conversation with interested colleagues is acceptable in general but more overt, politically partisan, conduct may not be. For example, it is not appropriate to:

  • campaign for a political party or a candidate in the workplace
  • provide work contact details to political parties
  • engage with political parties while at work.

Acting responsibly means that State servants will advise their manager if they receive emails from political parties at work, and not respond to or forward emails from political parties to other staff or agencies.

State servants must treat everyone, including political parties, fairly and equally and avoid the perception of discrimination based on their political views or affiliations.

Public funds and publicly funded agency resources must not be used for political purposes. For example, using a work printer to copy political party material is not allowed.

Working in a politically neutral way means that State servants cannot work for, nor service, political entities such as party caucuses and caucus committees as part of their work as government officials. As a government official, they can only attend a caucus meeting of a political party represented in the House at the direction of, or with the consent of the Minister, and with the consent of their chief executive.

Ministerial staff

Like other State servants, Ministerial staff must not use official resources for political party purposes or undertake electioneering work for Ministers. Ministerial staff employed by the State services are bound by the Code of Conduct for Ministerial staff and are not required to be politically neutral in providing political advice to the Minister.

Read the Code of conduct for Ministerial staff.

Using social media at work

State servants using social media on behalf of an agency must follow the rules and policies that apply.  The Guidelines for Government Advertising apply to all agency communications, including social media.  Agencies will have their own social media policy.  State servants must be specifically authorised by their agency to use social media on the agency’s behalf.  In communicating on social media, it is important to be clear about the agency’s role and purpose.  

Read the Guidelines for Government Advertising.

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