Decision 17: What are MPs doing right now?

  • 10/10/2017
Decision 17: What are MPs doing right now?
Photo credit: Getty

It's been 19 days since the election and New Zealand currently has what's known as a 'caretaker Government'. As negotiations continue this week, it's not yet clear who will form a coalition Government.

In the meantime, the existing National Government is running the show, but under the 'caretaker convention' they can't make any significant decisions - and if they urgently need to, this can only be done after consulting with other parties.

There was a caretaker Government for nine weeks in 1996, while in 2014 there was one for just 19 days. NZ First is expected to make a decision about a coalition on Thursday, meaning we're likely to see a new Government formed soon.

But what have all of the MPs been doing since the election on September 23?

There are numerous MPs who are involved in coalition negotiations, with Labour, Green and National all vying to form a Government with NZ First. But what about those who aren't involved?

ACT's sole MP David Seymour, who is not involved in coalition talks, has been on a tour of New Zealand thanking his candidates and supporters.

Nikki Kaye is one of the 'caretaker' Ministers at the moment. They have fewer Cabinet meetings and she can't make policy decisions, but everyday business continues like correspondence, reading reports and answering media queries.

She says Parliament is quieter, but locally she and other MPs are busier. Ms Kaye has been meeting with community leaders and constituents in her Auckland Central electorate.

She gets around 10,000 constituency queries each year, from major requests like a person facing deporation who is asking for support, to a school student asking her opinion on an issue.

Public servants are relied on during this period, some of whom have been in their roles for decades. They have to continue operating on existing policies.