|Provision of legislative drafting services to non-government senators
Provision of secretariat support to the Regulations and Ordinances Committee and Scrutiny of Bills Committee.
Provision of parliamentary information services to the community.
Provision of parliamentary education services to schools, teachers and students.
Provision of policy advice and secretariat support for the maintenance and development of interparliamentary relations, including the Inter-Parliamentary Union, overseas conferences and delegations program for senators.
||The degree of satisfaction of the President, Deputy President, committee members and senators, as expressed through formal and informal feedback mechanisms, with the quality and timeliness of advice and support and the achievement of key tasks.
||The 2007 senators’ survey revealed high levels of overall satisfaction with the group’s outputs. Advice was evaluated as ‘excellent’, with survey interviews revealing a generally high level of satisfaction with the accuracy of advice. Survey responses labelled performance as professional, non?partisan, efficient and willing.
|Procedural advice is accurate and covers all foreseeable eventualities.
||Procedural advice was assessed as accurate and comprehensive, and as anticipating senators’ requirements. A survey response noted, ‘Chamber and procedural support is excellent on the whole’.
|Amendments and bills are accurate and legally sound.
||The survey showed that the level of satisfaction with drafting services was 83% but commentary indicated that, while drafting was of a high standard, more resources were needed. Backbench government senators who used the services also expressed a high level of satisfaction.
|Public information and parliamentary research are accurate, comprehensive and targeted for particular needs.
||The group’s comprehensive continuing survey program revealed consistently high levels of satisfaction with this output, with many users of the training program seeking additional training modules.
|Education Centre teaching and other Parliamentary Education Office (PEO) projects accurately reflect the Parliament and its work.
||The senators’ survey indicated that senators were highly satisfied with the work of the PEO (89%). In other assessments conducted by the PEO, its clients indicated high levels of satisfaction.
||Procedural advice is timely. During sitting periods, amendments drafted as soon as possible after receipt of instructions.
||Procedural advice was assessed in the survey as prompt.
|Scrutiny committee meetings held, documentation provided and reports produced within timeframes set by the Senate or the committees, as relevant.
||All meetings of the scrutiny committees were held as scheduled and documentation was provided within the timeframes set by the committees.
|Seminars and lectures held on time and in accordance with advertised schedule; public information projects delivered according to programmed schedule.
||All seminars and lectures were held on time and in accordance with advertised schedules. Additional seminars were held in response to increasing demand.
|PEO teaching programs held on time and in accordance with booking schedule.
||All programs were held in accordance with schedules. 58 additional classes were held in response to popular demand.
|PEO projects delivered according to programmed schedule.
||Projects were delivered on schedule.
|Information available on the internet and in publications is up to date and available as soon as practicable.
||Internet timetables for the provision of information were met. A new website was launched for the PEO (see ‘Parliamentary education services’).
As shown in Figure 11, the Procedure Office is divided into six functional areas to assist with the efficient management of the services it provides to senators. The office is headed by the Clerk Assistant (Procedure), who manages the office, provides procedural, advisory and drafting services, makes a large number of presentations on Senate procedure, and performs duties as a clerk at the table in the Senate chamber.
Figure 11 Elements and responsibilities of the Procedure Office
Executive and Legislative Drafting
Cleaver Elliott, Clerk Assistant
Procedural advice and training
Legislative drafting of amendments and private senators’ bills
|Production, editing and publication of The Biographical Dictionary of the Australian Senate
||Provision of parliamentary education services to schools, teachers and students
||Secretariat, advisory and administrative support to the committee
||Provision of seminars, exhibitions, and research on matters of parliamentary significance
||Secretariat, advisory and administrative support to the committee
Legislative drafting and procedural advice
The Procedure Office met the requirements of senators for procedural advice and legislative drafting services by:
- providing procedural advice to non-government senators, in response to requests and proactively
- providing procedural training and briefing to senators and senators’ staff, in response to requests and proactively
- providing accurate advice, both in the chamber and for use in the chamber
- drafting amendments to bills, primarily for non-government senators but also for backbench government senators, as required, in response to instructions received from senators and senators’ staff
- drafting private senators’ bills for non-government senators and also for backbench government senators as required, in response to instructions received from senators and senators’ staff.
The office also prepared an average of six procedural scripts per sitting day, one more than last year’s average. These scripts included notices of motion, terms of reference for committee inquiries and related documents for senators’ use in the chamber and in committees. The tendency of senators and their staff to seek this advice at very short notice continued during the year.
The Procedure Office drafted and processed all non-government amendments and private senators’ bills required by senators for use in the Senate, to assist with Senate committee work and for the purpose of discussions and negotiations with interested constituents. In 2005–06, there was a small increase in the number of requests from government senators for drafting assistance; a similar number of requests were made in 2006–07.
There was a further increase in the number of requests for drafting private senators’ bills during 2006–07, with 41 bills prepared and 20 introduced, compared to 34 prepared and six introduced in 2005–06. The most notable drafting tasks during the year under review were for the Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT) and Related Research Amendment Bill 2006 and Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction and the Regulation of Human Embryo Research Amendment Bill 2006. After initial drafting, work on the latter bill was greatly assisted by the Office of Parliamentary Counsel and a seconded departmental officer with expertise in this area. The briefings required for both bills involved considerable work for the office.
The numbers of amendments arising from the four most demanding bills, shown in Table 3, are indicative of the general levels of legislative drafting activity during 2006–07. A summary of the legislative drafting and procedural advice services provided by the office in recent years is shown in Table 4.
Table 3 Bills generating significant workload, 2006—07
||No. of circulated
|No. of sets of
|Inspector of Transport Security Bill 2006
|Medibank Private Sale Bill 2006
|Native Title Amendment Bill 2006
|Workplace Relations Amendment (A Stronger Safety Net) Bill 2007
A core function of the office is the provision of procedural advice to meet a wide range of senators’ requirements. As in previous years, senators and senators’ staff frequently sought advice about the operation of various standing orders and the practices of the Senate, as well as advice on how to satisfy their requirements through the procedures of the Senate and its committees. The demand for training new staff of senators and providing refresher training sessions in procedural matters to existing staff remained strong. This continuing high volume of work was a major part of the Clerk Assistant’s responsibilities.
The reduced number of sitting days in 2006–07—continuing a trend noted in recent reports—affected the work of the office, with senators concentrating their legislative work into the available time.
The 2007 senators’ survey revealed an 83 per cent level of satisfaction with the legislative drafting service. Survey commentary indicated that drafting services provided to non-government senators were of an impressively high standard. Government senators who had used these services were also either highly satisfied (four senators), or satisfied (one senator).
Responses in the survey also reflected a familiar concern about over-strained resources in the area. This has been a continuing area of attention, which can most effectively be addressed by a wider acknowledgment of the root cause, as one Senator commented in the survey: ‘The [problems with drafting] are only usually caused because of last minute decisions by individual senators, by members of parties and advisers. Sometimes there is a rush of legislation, a rush of last minute legislation’.
Additional staff resources were provided to the legislative drafting task with the Director, Research increasing the proportion of legislative drafting undertaken by the Research Section for the Procedure Office. The Research Section continued with its research support for the Clerk Assistant’s legislative drafting workload, particularly for private senators’ bills where policy development is required.
Table 4 Legislative drafting and procedural advice services provided to non-government senators, 2002–03 to 2006–07
|Committee of the whole amendments
|Second reading amendments
|Private senator’s bills prepared
|Private senators’ bills introduced
|Procedural scripts prepared
Legislative scrutiny committees
During the year, the office provided secretariat, research and administrative support to the Regulations and Ordinances Committee and the Scrutiny of Bills Committee.
The secretariats of the two scrutiny committees assisted the committees to fulfil their responsibilities in accordance with their standing orders. This work included:
- publishing the required reports and digests each Senate sitting week
- publishing the Delegated Legislation Monitor (every Senate sitting week) and the Disallowance Alert and Scrutiny of Disallowable Instruments Alert (updated online as required)
- preparing disallowance notices.
The two committees are responsible for examining all bills and disallowable instruments within their jurisdiction. The secretariats, assisted by their legal advisers, completed the necessary administrative work to assist the committees to undertake these tasks. The Regulations and Ordinances Committee staff processed 2,349 instruments during 2006–07 (2,449 in 2005–06). The Scrutiny of Bills Committee secretariat processed 241 bills during 2006–07 (185 in 2005–06) and the committee commented on 112 bills (91 in 2005–06).
The secretaries of the scrutiny committees briefed an international delegation from the Interparliamentary Study Group on the role and work of the committees.
Public information and parliamentary research
The Research Section of the Procedure Office continued to coordinate and deliver parliamentary information services for the community during the year through lectures, exhibitions, seminars, publications, programs for other parliaments in Australia and overseas, and internships and fellowships. Highlights included the provision of an additional 18 seminars in response to high levels of demand and the provision of assistance to the legislatures of Indonesia, the People’s Republic of China, Vietnam and the Cook Islands.
The Biographical Dictionary Unit of the output group continued its work on The Biographical Dictionary of the Australian Senate.
Work on the manuscript of the third volume, covering 1962 to 1983, was completed at the end of the reporting period, meeting the timeframe established with the Clerk of the Senate. The work was undertaken in accordance with the accepted standards and procedures for multi-author works of reference, as outlined in last year’s annual report.
The extensive research and writing required in the unit included the verification of 33 entries, the editing of 54 entries, and the compilation of extensive endnotes.
The crucial task continued to be genealogical research about senators and clerks and their families, and acquisition of documents to confirm the facts. One hundred birth, marriage and death certificates were ordered from Australian states and from other countries and overseas cities (ranging from Scotland and Ireland to Shanghai and Hong Kong), as was one shipping record for a birth at sea. Twenty-eight burial records were accessed through online cemetery databases. The search for several divorce decrees began.
Work continued on the 108 entries for Volume 4, which will cover 1983 to 2003. A further 20 authors were allocated, to make a total of 37, and some editorial work commenced. A date has not yet been set for publication of Volume 4.
During 2006–07, the Department of the Senate continued to host lunchtime lectures as part of the popular occasional lecture series, a drawcard both for repeat attendees and for visitors to Parliament House. Topics ranged from the relationship between the media gallery and Parliament, presented by prominent SBS television reporter Karen Middleton, to the importance of an independent electoral administrator, presented by renowned Australian political scientist (and the first Australian Electoral Commissioner) Professor Colin Hughes.
The Research Section publishes lecture transcripts in its free Papers on Parliament series and, since the start of 2007, has made audio recordings available on the departmental website, increasing the audience for, and accessibility to, the lectures.
The department completed a new exhibition in the lobby to the public galleries of the Senate chamber. The exhibition provides orientation for visitors to the galleries and gives them an introduction to the role of the Senate and the work of senators. The Research Section also developed material for a new audiovisual display, enabling the public to select short sequences depicting the work of Senate committees, women in the parliament, Prime Ministers, and cartoons illustrating the Senate.
The department’s seminar series, administered by the Research Section, continues to expand, giving a greater number of executive branch public servants an opportunity to understand parliamentary operations and the accountability relationship between the Parliament and their own departments. A total of 1,558 people attended 43 seminars this year, almost 400 more than last year.
The seminar series remains an integral part of most graduate training programs within the Australian Public Service. As graduate recruitment programs continue to expand, so has the demand for Senate seminars.
The range of tailored seminars available to the public service and other groups has also expanded. In 2006–07, this included a seminar for a group of Indigenous graduates and tailored programs for a lobbying/consulting firm, for the Journalists Fellowship Program and for the Defence Industry Study Course.
The seminars are effective because they are conducted by senior departmental staff actively involved in supporting the operations of the Senate and its committees. It may be that the limit of the department’s capacity to produce these seminars has almost been reached, as expert staff can only be drawn on to a certain extent.
A series of procedural training seminars continued to be offered for the staff of senators, with continuing good attendance. These seminars, delivered by senior officers, provide detailed applied explanations of the operations of the Senate and its committees.
The Research Section edited and published two editions of the department’s journal, Papers on Parliament, during 2006–07. The first, A Light of Reason, focused on the Senate Select Committee on Superannuation and a seminar on its work held in August 2005. The second, Images, Colours and Reflections, contained papers from the occasional lecture series of 2005–06.
The section issues a range of free publications raising awareness of the Senate and the parliamentary process. In 2006–07, the Senate Briefs series was revised and reissued in hard copy and in an improved online version.
Two new brochures were also produced this year. The first provides a simple explanation of the Senate, its function and its operations for people who want a basic understanding without the detail offered by the Senate Briefs. The second, Your Senate Online, provides step-by-step instructions to enable people to access the range of information available on the Senate through the Parliament House website.
Information inquiries, internships and fellowships
During the year, the Research Section responded to requests for information and research support from a range of sources, including senators, the Clerk, the academic community and the general public.
The Australian National Internships Program was again run successfully in partnership with the Australian National University. Interns continued to see Parliament House as an outstanding venue in which to be placed. More than a thousand students have participated in the program since its inception in 1993, and 77 students were placed in Parliament House in 2006–07. The Research Section coordinated an induction seminar for each group of interns and organised some of the functions associated with the program.
The section also manages the Senate Fellowship program, which gives scholars access to the department and Parliament House to conduct their research. The program costs the department nothing, as it provides no fees or allowances.
During the year, Professor John Halligan of the University of Canberra concluded his fellowship when, with his co-authors, he completed Parliament in the 21st Century: Institutional Reform and Emerging Roles, a book published by Melbourne University Press.
Parliamentary education services
The Parliamentary Education Office (PEO), through its programs, publications and resources, educates Australians about the work of the Parliament of Australia. The PEO provides services both at Parliament House and through outreach activities. During 2006–07, the office continued to deliver a high level of parliamentary educational services to schools, teachers and students.
Parliament House activities
Through its Education Centre (a modified committee room representing a parliamentary chamber), the PEO delivered its pre-booked one-hour role-play program to more than 87,000 students in about 2,500 groups during the year. This continues a steady increase in the number of students attending, as shown in Figure 12. The role-play involves simulations of chamber and committee proceedings of the Senate and the House of Representatives. This popular and successful educational experience has been replicated in classrooms Australia-wide and in state, territory and overseas parliaments.
As foreshadowed in last year’s report, hours of operation for the program were extended to meet demand, resulting in more than 2,000 additional students participating in the program. In June 2007, the Education Centre installed chamber benches with reversible red and green cushions, to match the colours of the two chambers. This provides an even more authentic chamber experience for students, and potential to expand PEO services from the Education Centre using a range of multimedia visual technologies. The office also conducted market research surveys of classroom teachers visiting the Education Centre.
Figure 12 Students who visited the PEO Education Centre, 2002–03 to 2006–07
Figure 12 text description
Figure 13 School groups that visited the PEO Education Centre, 2002–03 to 2006–07
Figure 13 text description
The Little Lunch Sittings for Senior Citizens program was again delivered during available periods at Parliament House.
The PEO also contributed to the annual National Schools’ Constitutional Convention by taking participants through a simulated parliamentary sitting that considered a constitution alteration bill tailor-made for the purpose.
The PEO continued to develop systems and programs for teachers in schools, universities and the TAFE sector. As part of a national ‘teaching teachers’ program, the PEO focused on South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. The PEO also conducted its long-running and successful Fellowship program, which in 2006–07 brought in experienced teachers and officials from the schools sector in South Australia. A follow-up strategy, assisted by a new ‘Friends and Colleagues’ communication initiative using the PEO website, is ensuring that PEO Fellows are supported and encouraged to maintain PEO programs in South Australian classrooms. More generally, this communication system is designed to keep PEO in touch with all its friends and colleagues in the education sector.
In 2006–07, the PEO participated in activities in:
- New South Wales—Bega, Cooma, Eden, Newcastle
- Victoria—Melbourne (several different programs)
- Western Australia—Perth
- South Australia—Berri, Gawler, Gilles Plains, Noarlunga, Port Adelaide, Port Augusta, Regency Park, Salisbury
- Australian Capital Territory—Canberra and surrounding region
- Northern Territory—Alice Springs, Darwin.
No major activities were undertaken in Queensland during 2006–07, as extensive work was done in that state in 2005–06. However, Queensland students continued to be a major presence, making up 15 per cent of participants in the role-play.
An important feature of PEO outreach activities is the involvement and assistance of senators and members from the relevant state or electorate.
The PEO continued to work with the National Museum of Australia to produce Talk Back Classroom, a program in which senior secondary school students interview distinguished guests in front of a live audience in a recording studio. In 2006–07, interviewees included Dr Peter Shergold, Ms Julia Gillard MP, the Honourable Mal Brough MP, the Honourable Julie Bishop MP and the Honourable Malcolm Turnbull MP.
The Rotary-sponsored ‘Adventure in Citizenship’ program brought 50 Year 11 students to Canberra to take part in a week-long program run by the PEO and other partners. Delegates experienced the operation of Parliament through various role-plays within the structured format of parliamentary and committee processes, through involvement with parliamentarians and through debates on some of the key current issues being considered by the Parliament. Delegates returned home to share these experiences with their peers and communities.
As in past years, the PEO assisted the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in producing the Heywire program for rural youth by giving 36 participants from across Australia an understanding of the way Parliament functions, with an emphasis on lawmaking and scrutiny
During 2006–07, the PEO continued to forge strong and useful networks within the Parliament and beyond by:
- meeting with the PEO Advisory Committee
- working closely with senators and members
- attending the Australian Primary Principals’ Association Conference
- continuing to monitor state and territory curriculum developments
- keeping abreast of parliamentary education developments internationally
- monitoring chamber and committee developments throughout the year.
Staff training and development
In 2006–07, the PEO introduced a training module for staff and prospective staff, to increase its teaching capacity during busy periods and to increase staffing flexibility by providing additional resources to cover staff absences. Qualified applicants from the department’s casual employment register undertook development based on observation, team teaching and mentoring, and were given intermittent teaching opportunities within the PEO. The training module will be repeated and refined in 2007–08.
Website and resources
The new PEO website went on line in March 2007 after more than a year of planning, consultation, testing and implementation. Added interactivity, including video learning and face-to-face communication, and the promotion of the website form the next phase of the larger website project.
The PEO continued to produce new and updated resources. These included the draft stage of a poster series, Parliament in Pictures, and the new teacher CD resource, Parliament of Wizards, which introduces primary school students to the work of parliament through the world of magic.
To cater for continuing high levels of interest, the PEO reprinted the pocket-sized Australian Constitution, Peeling Back Parliament and Unravelling the Role Play.
Parliament and Civics Education Rebate
The Citizenship Visits Program (CVP) provided subsidies for school groups travelling more than 1,000 kilometres to Canberra to visit the Education Centre. From 1 July 2006, the CVP was transferred to the Department of Education, Science and Training and subsumed into the Parliament and Civics Education Rebate (PACER) scheme. The department ceased its involvement with the CVP from that time. However, Senate estimate committee hearings explored the effect of PACER on the PEO’s education program. Statistics for the PEO program at Parliament House revealed that overall bookings increased in the year following PACER’s introduction, but bookings from remote states such as Western Australia, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Tasmania—for which the CVP had been devised—remained the same or declined.
The Procedure Office provides support to parliaments around the world by:
- hosting visiting delegations from overseas legislatures
- training members and officials of other legislatures
- supporting the work of the Inter-Parliamentary Union
- giving administrative and research support to Australian parliamentary delegations visiting other countries’ legislatures.
In March 2007, the Clerk Assistant (Procedure) produced a consolidated report of parliamentary training provided by staff of the department to overseas parliaments. Fifteen tailored missions to 13 countries (with some countries requesting follow-up training) had been conducted during a 10-year period. The report was tabled in the Senate by the President on 29 March 2007.
The Senate and its committees continued to be regarded as role models for legislatures around Australia and the world. In 2006–07, the Senate hosted visitors from nations including Indonesia, Pakistan, South Africa and Niue. As in previous years, the program was tailored to meet the specific needs of the visitors.
The Clerk Assistant (Procedure) and the Director, Research continued to provide training opportunities for members and staff of legislatures in the region, including the National Assembly of Vietnam and the Parliament of the Cook Islands. The office also worked to develop further the close relationship between the Australian Senate and the Indonesian upper house, the Dewan Perwakilan Daera.
The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) brings together representatives of the parliaments of sovereign states throughout the world. It fosters contacts, coordination and exchanges of experience among parliaments and parliamentarians of all countries and contributes to a better knowledge of the working of representative institutions.
During 2006–07, the department continued to support the important work of the IPU by:
- funding the attendances of senators and members from the Australian Group of the IPU at the 115th IPU Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, in October 2006 and at the 116th Assembly in Bali, Indonesia, in May 2007
- providing administrative support and advice to the Australian delegation.
In July 2006, the leader of the Australian IPU delegation, the Hon. Judi Moylan MP attended meetings in Geneva, convened by the President of the IPU, Mr Pier Ferdinando Casini, to develop proposals to further consolidate reform of the IPU. Several of her proposals were adopted and are being implemented.
The Director, Journals and Notice Paper, Table Office, continued to serve as secretary to the Australian IPU delegation, providing administrative support and advice, and help with preparing reports to the Parliament.
Delegation secretariat support
In addition to its support of IPU activities, the department provided experienced officers as secretaries to five parliamentary delegations conducting bilateral visits to Portugal; Cambodia; the Republic of Malta and Spain; the United Kingdom and Poland; and Trinidad and Tobago and the United States of America. The secretaries provided administrative and research support throughout the visits and during the preparation of reports for tabling in the Parliament.
Significant changes in functions and services
The Citizenship Visits Program, an administered item providing a subsidy for school children visiting Parliament House from remote areas of Australia, was terminated and transferred to the Department of Education, Science and Training. The program ceased to be administered by parliamentary departments on 1 July 2006.
See ‘Parliament and Civics Education Rebate’, above, for more details.
Factors, events and trends influencing performance
The core business of the Procedure Office—its legislative drafting and procedural advice services—continued to be used extensively by senators and their staff.
Demand for procedural advice and training for senators’ staff remained high, partly driven by high turnover among staff, many of whom are casual or temporary employees.
Public service demand and demand from overseas parliaments for training services continued to be very strong. This led the office to provide many additional training seminars, often at short notice.
In addition to monitoring the evaluative commentary received in the senators’ survey, the Procedure Office continually monitors all its activities through formal and informal appraisal, including through letters, emails, phone calls, seminar evaluation forms and direct advice from Senators, their staff and members of the public. All these evaluation methods helped the office to finetune output activities during 2006–07, and all indicated high levels of satisfaction with the office’s services. Figure 14 gives examples of comments.
Figure 14 Typical feedback on Output Group 3 programs
On the legislative drafting service ...
‘Thanks so much for your super-efficient help on this.’
(A senator’s staffer)
‘‘Thanks for your great work on this—I’ve received many compliments on the effort from here and overseas.’’
(A senator on the drafting of a private senator’s bill)
‘Thanks for the work on the bill; everyone is very happy with it.’
(A senator’s staffer)
‘I believe the draft is so good that if there is neither time nor interest to “potter”, where it is now is a splendid example of its genre.’
(A constituent on the drafting of a private senator’s bill)
‘Thank you both again for your willingness to help me in a rush … again!’
(A senator’s staffer)
‘Thanks—once again your service excels!’
(A senator’s staffer)
‘You’re a miracle worker. Very much appreciated. Will be a bit more timely next time.’
(A senator’s staffer)
On the seminar program …
‘Excellent and entertaining. Kept my interest.’
‘My sincere thanks for your quick response and enthusiasm.’
(An organiser of a seminar)
‘[The Senate] session was the hit of the week—and rightly so.’
(Student of the Advanced Military Administrative Law course, ANU)
‘Appreciated the focus on providing advice to ministers.’
‘Excellent and very informative. Practical knowledge highlighting both intellectual and physical reality. A fantastic learning experience.’
‘That was the most interesting and insightful seminar so far out of all the seminars offered in the program. I was already familiar with the brief role of the Senate, but its reasons and rationale for Senate processes was informative to me.’
‘This was a great introduction to the Senate—clear, well organised and very interesting’.
‘Well presented, well thought out, clear and concise.’
‘Well presented and informative. Very useful information in our folders.’
‘It was very worthwhile and covered both the necessary detail and the “mystery” of the legislative process.’
‘Speakers were very knowledgeable—it was clear they were experienced in the topics.’
‘Good, useful and well-presented explanation of the Senate and role of public servants.’
‘I really enjoyed the presentations. All of the presenters are very knowledgeable about their topics. I really appreciate that all the presenters offered tips and used current issues to highlight the points of the presentation. Having a current senator as a presenter was also invaluable.’
On the Parliamentary Education Office programs …
‘The Parliamentary Education Office does a wonderful job.’
‘The mock parliament session has certainly educated and enriched students’ understanding of the operation of Parliament and made them more aware of the importance of debates …’
(A member of the House of Representatives)
‘I enjoyed learning more about the outreach program of the PEO … so much dedication, energy and passion towards educating students about the Australian Parliament.’
(Senior lecturer, School of Education, Edith Cowan University)
‘The Parliamentary Education Office does amazing work. There can never be too many words said about the scope and talent of the people who work there. They have a real ability to make parliament and our wonderful democracy real to students.’
(A visiting official)
‘My classroom has already benefited from PEO resources. When talking about aspects of Parliament, I simply turn to the posters, maps & diagrams on the wall …The website is excellent.’
(A teacher and PEO fellow)
‘This was absolutely brilliant. Using situational learning is a very successful strategy … fantastic!’
(A TAFE student)
Specific evaluation of the work of the PEO appeared in the senators’ survey within the section headed ‘Public awareness of the Senate and its work’. The report stated that the PEO was ‘most prominent in the minds of Senators’, with survey results indicating that 67 per cent of senators were satisfied with the PEO and 22 per cent were highly satisfied. The overall approval rate of 89 per cent shows that the outputs of the office are hitting the mark. After the PEO Advisory Committee meeting in March 2007, before the survey results were published, all senators were provided with a list of the schools from their state that had booked into the PEO program at Parliament House to 31 December 2007. This service will soon be permanently available through the senators’ computer network portal.
In 2007–08, the office will continue to give priority to providing legislative drafting support for non-government senators, drafting support for legislative amendments and private senator’s bills, and procedural advice and training.
The scrutiny committees’ secretariats will continue to provide full and effective support to the Regulations and Ordinances Committee and the Scrutiny of Bills Committee.
The Biographical Dictionary Unit will publish Volume 3 of the dictionary and continue its work on Volume 4.
The PEO will continue to focus its efforts on an established ‘teaching and reaching’ strategy. This will include substantial moves towards implementing a national agenda designed primarily to educate all students of school age in Australia about the Australian Parliament. It will use technology to support its aims, including additions to its new website and a video production facility called Moving Image.
The PEO will also work closely with the Australian Primary Principals’ Association and the Australian Secondary Principals’ Association (including sponsoring a part of their joint national conference). Teacher training initiatives, plus programs in schools, universities and the TAFE sector, will also continue.
All senators and members will be given access to PEO school bookings data, specific member of parliament services and the PEO website through their network portal.
In 2007–08, the PEO expects to educate a near-capacity number of students in the Education Centre, as it did in 2006–07. The PEO will continue to further its position as a leading authority on, and exponent of, parliamentary education.
The Research Section will continue to provide training for senators and their staff, for the members and staff of other parliaments and for officers of the Australian Public Service.
During the coming year, the Research Section will replace the exhibition ‘For Peace, Order and Good Government’ with a new exhibition focusing on the constitutional, legislative, representative and accountability functions of the Parliament. The section will also maintain the popular series of occasional lectures.