Symbolism and Use of the Mace
The Mace of the House of Representatives is the symbol not only of the Royal authority but of the authority of the House. As it has been stated that 'the authority of the Speaker and of the House are indivisible', it also symbolises the authority of the Speaker.
Before the election of a Speaker, the Mace is placed on brackets under the Table of the House and as soon as the Speaker takes his or her seat after being elected by the House, it is placed on rests on the Table (see Standing Order 12).
When the Speaker is in the Chair, the Mace lies on the Table, with the orb and cross surmounting it pointing to the government side, that is, to the Speaker's right. The only time that the Mace is not removed from the Table when the Speaker leaves the Chair is when he or she has temporarily suspended a sitting of the House (perhaps for a meal break). The Mace remains on the Table during the whole of the suspension.
The Serjeant-At-Arms is custodian of the Mace. Bearing the Mace upon the right shoulder, the Serjeant-at-Arms precedes the Speaker when the Speaker enters and leaves the Chamber at the beginning and the end of a day's sitting.
The Mace, carried by the Serjeant-at-Arms, has become an important symbol of the authority of the Speaker and of the House itself. There is a view that the House is not properly constituted unless the Mace is present on the brackets in the Chamber.
The Mace also accompanies the Speaker on formal occasions such as his or her presentation to the Governor-General after election, when the House goes to the Senate to hear the Governor-General's opening speech, and on the presentation to the Governor-General of the Address in Reply to the opening speech. On these occasions, the Mace is covered with a cloth or left in an antechamber before entering the Governor-General's presence. Being the symbol of the Royal authority, the Mace is unnecessary in the presence of the authority itself.