Departmental overview

Purpose

The department’s purpose as set out in its 2017–18 corporate plan is:

To support the House of Representatives, and the wider parliament, in the role of a representative and legislative body primarily by providing advice and services, and through engaging with the community and other parliaments.

Role and functions

The Parliamentary Service Act 1999 provides for a non-partisan parliamentary service to serve the Australian Parliament. The Department of the House of Representatives is established by and operates under the Act, together with three other parliamentary departments: the Department of the Senate, the Department of Parliamentary Services and the Parliamentary Budget Office.

During 2017–18, the department continued in its role as a service department for the parliament, supporting the work of the House of Representatives, its members and committees, and some joint committees (comprising members of the House and the Senate).

The department continued to provide services to increase public knowledge and awareness of the work of the House and the Australian Parliament, and to encourage interaction. The department also assisted the House and the parliament in maintaining institutional relationships with their state, territory and international counterparts.

Departmental structure

The department is managed by its Executive: the Clerk, Deputy Clerk, Clerk Assistant (Table), Clerk Assistant (Procedure), Clerk Assistant (Committees) and Serjeant-at-Arms.

There were no changes to the department’s structure during the year. In May 2018 an independent review was conducted of the Clerk Assistant (Procedure) Office, which was established in January 2017 for an initial 18-month period. The review recommended the continuation of the Procedure Office and the associated SES Band 1 position of Clerk Assistant (Procedure). The Clerk has agreed to the recommendations.

Figure 1 shows the department’s organisational structure at 30 June 2018

Figure 1 Departmental structure at 30 June 2018

Departmental structure, as discussed below.

Roles and responsibilities of the Executive

Clerk

The Clerk is the most senior official of the department. The Clerk is the principal adviser to the Speaker, and is responsible for leading approximately 176 departmental staff members who provide administrative and procedural advice and services to the House and parliamentary committees, and support the parliament's international and domestic engagement.

Deputy Clerk

The Deputy Clerk is the second most senior official of the department. The Deputy Clerk is responsible for advising and assisting members, their staff and departmental staff on matters of parliamentary practice and law, and for overseeing the drafting of private members’ bills and amendments. The Deputy Clerk assists the Clerk in managing the department, and during the Clerk’s absence performs the duties of Clerk.

Clerk Assistant (Table)

The Clerk Assistant (Table) is responsible for the areas of the department that provide programming, procedural and legislative support to the Chamber and Federation Chamber of the House. The Clerk Assistant (Table) is also responsible for the areas of the department that support the parliament’s program of international delegations and parliamentary strengthening.

Clerk Assistant (Procedure)

The Clerk Assistant (Procedure) is responsible for the Procedure Office and the Chamber Research Office. Those offices provide procedural research, publications and services explaining the work of the House and its institutional role. The Clerk Assistant (Procedure) also contributes to the House’s parliamentary strengthening activities related to parliamentary procedure.

Clerk Assistant (Committees)

The Clerk Assistant (Committees) is responsible for the Committee Office, which provides a range of support services—including procedural, research, analytical, drafting and administrative support—to House committees and to some joint committees.

Serjeant-at-Arms

The Serjeant-at-Arms is responsible for the corporate areas of the department, which provide support and a range of services for members and for departmental staff. The Serjeant-at-Arms has a key role in managing ceremonial and security matters relating to the House.

Outcome and program structure

The department’s outcome and program structure for the year is set out in the 2017–18 Portfolio Budget Statements.

The department has one outcome:

Advisory and administrative services support the House of Representatives to fulfil its representative and legislative role.

The department has two programs:

  • Program 1: Departmental—supports five activities
  • Program 2: Administered—supports one activity.

Figure 2 shows the department’s outcome and program structure, and the activities under each program.

Figure 2 Outcome and program structure, 2017–18

OUTCOME 1
Advisory and administrative services support the House of Representatives to fulfil its representative and legislative role.

The department provides facilities, support, advice and information to ensure that:

  • the House of Representatives Chamber and Federation Chamber operate effectively
  • the community has access to information and educational resources that help it to understand, and interact with, the work of the House of Representatives and the Australian Parliament
  • parliamentary committees operate effectively
  • relationships with international and regional parliaments, parliamentary bodies and organisations are maintained
  • members receive appropriate services to fulfil their parliamentary duties
  • the corporate offices fulfil their responsibilities for the management of people, finances and office services.

 

PROGRAM 1: DEPARTMENTAL

Activity 1: Chamber and Federation Chamber

Advice and services to support the effective operation of the House of Representatives Chamber and Federation Chamber. This includes:

  • processing and drafting bills
  • creating and processing the records and documents of the House
  • collecting, analysing and publishing procedural and statistical information
  • providing services and advice to the Speaker, members and others.

Activity 2: Community awareness

Services to increase public knowledge and awareness of, and interaction with, the work of the House of Representatives and the Australian Parliament.

Activity 3: Committee support

Procedural, research, analytical, drafting and administrative support for House of Representatives committees and some joint committees in fulfilling their role in the parliamentary consideration of policy, legislation and the scrutiny of government.

Activity 4: Inter-parliamentary relations and capacity-building

Advice and support to facilitate and maintain the parliament’s relationships with international and regional parliaments, parliamentary bodies and organisations.

Activity 5: Members’ and corporate support

Advice, services and support to members in Parliament House and the department. This includes:

  • advice and services relating to members’ salaries and allowances
  • advice and services to members relating to accommodation and office services
  • advice and services to the department relating to financial and human resource management and office services.

 

PROGRAM 2: ADMINISTERED

Activity 6: Schools hospitality

Resources supporting bookings and the provision of hospitality to school groups visiting Parliament House.

  

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