About the Senate

The Senate is one of the two houses of the Australian Federal Parliament. It consists of 76 senators, twelve from each of the six states and two from each of the mainland territories. It shares the power to make laws with the other House of Parliament, the House of Representatives. The Senate is elected by proportional representation, so that its composition closely reflects the voting pattern of the electors.

Parliament House Calendar

November 2012

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Department of the Senate

 Department of the Senate - staff photo 2016

About the Department 

The Constitution vests the Commonwealth legislative power in a Parliament consisting of the Queen, represented by the Governor-General, a Senate and a House of Representatives.

The Department of the Senate provides the Senate, its committees, the President of the Senate and senators with a broad range of advisory and support services related to the exercise of the legislative power of the Commonwealth.

The parliamentary head of the department is the President of the Senate and the departmental head is the Clerk of the Senate. 

The department is one of four supporting the two Houses, the others being the Department of the House of Representatives, the Parliamentary Budget Office and the Department of Parliamentary Services.

The work of the Department of the Senate is determined almost entirely by the Senate and its committees. The department is responsible, not to the government of the day, but to the Senate and all senators, and maintains complete impartiality in serving equally senators from all political parties and independent senators.

Appointment of Clerk of the Senate

The Clerk of the Senate is a statutory office-holder appointed under the Parliamentary Service Act 1999 (PS Act).

The Clerk is the principal adviser to the President, Deputy President and senators generally in relation to proceedings of the Senate and its committees. The Clerk’s advice is given both in the Senate chamber when the Senate is sitting and at other times, and may be in oral or written form. Each senator has access to the advice on the basis of equality and confidentiality. Written advice is often made public by the senator who sought it.

In addition, the Clerk is the departmental head of the Department of the Senate, exercising the powers of a secretary of a department, and is responsible to the President and to the Senate for the budget, staffing and operations of the Department.

The Clerk is appointed by the President of the Senate after consultation with senators for a non-renewable term of 10 years.

Candidates who possess the necessary skills, abilities and qualities required to fill this position, as prescribed by section 58(4) of the PS Act, are invited to submit an application. Any candidate who does not have extensive knowledge of, and experience in, Parliamentary law, procedure and practice will not be considered for appointment.

Further information about the vacancy, including an application package, can be found here.

Offices of the Department

The Department consists of five offices: