The Clerk and Other Offices

Clerk's Office

The Clerk's Office is directly responsible for:

  • provision of high quality procedural and constitutional advice to senators in respect of the operations of the Senate and its committees
  • provision of secretariat, advisory and administrative support to the Procedure Committee and the Committee of Privileges
  • production, amendment and updating of Odgers' Australian Senate Practice
  • production and dissemination of material relating to the work of the Senate and its committees to the widest possible audience
  • corporate leadership of the Department of the Senate
  • secretariat services for the Inter-Parliamentary Union

In addition, the office exercises overall responsibility for, and quality control of, all procedural and administrative activities of the department.

Table Office

The Table Office is responsible for the procedural and administrative support necessary for the effective conduct of the business of the Senate, including:

  • provision of procedural and programming advice and documentation
  • production of the official record of Senate proceedings (Journals of the Senate)
  • production of the record of all business before the Senate (Notice Paper)
  • production of the daily Order of Business (the Red)
  • processing of all legislation considered by the Senate
  • provision of an inquiry and distribution service covering all documentation and business before the Senate
  • arranging custody of all documents tabled in the Senate
  • provision of committee secretariats for the Selection of Bills, Appropriations and Staffing and Senate and Joint Publications committees.

The Office is managed by the Clerk Assistant (Table), who is also Secretary of the Selection of Bills Committee and a Clerk at the Table. 

Senate Public Information Office

The Senate Public Information Office (SPIO) is managed by the Clerk Assistant (Table), and works with other areas of the department to improve approaches to publishing and sharing information. Core functions of the office that enable this are:

  • developing and maintaining a public information strategy
  • promoting awareness of the role of the Senate and its committees
  • coordinating public information resources about the work of the Senate and its committees
  • managing projects affecting the production and dissemination of public information.

SPIO is responsible for web publishing, design and development; video production; graphic design and print; and project liaison.

The Office also manages the Senate's social media presence, and produces informal records, including the Dynamic Red, The Week Ahead, the Senate Daily Summary, and statistics about the work of the Senate.

Procedure Office

The Procedure Office provides a range of services for senators and departmental staff. The Clerk Assistant (Procedure), as head of the office, provides procedural advice, both orally and in writing, and legislative drafting services, principally to non-government senators. The Clerk Assistant is also a Clerk at the Table. The office provides the secretariats for the Senate's two legislative scrutiny committees, the Regulations and Ordinances Committee and the Scrutiny of Bills Committee; the secretaries to these committees provide some assistance to the Clerk Assistant when not undertaking their committee work.

Also within the Procedure Office, the Research Section conducts research into matters of parliamentary, historical and constitutional significance; publishes information about the Senate online as well as in books and brochures; organises seminars on parliamentary processes for senators, their staff, and staff of parliamentary and executive departments; maintains a procedural information resource centre; coordinates Senate programs for visiting parliamentarians and parliamentary officers; and arranges public lectures and exhibitions on matters of parliamentary interest.

Parliamentary Education Office

Jointly funded by the Departments of the Senate and the House of Representatives, the Parliamentary Education Office (PEO) delivers parliamentary education services to teachers, students and other learners across Australia through:

  • experiential learning programs that enable students and teachers to understand and engage with the work of the Parliament
  • comprehensive websites covering fundamental concepts such as representation, law-making, the separation of powers and responsible government
  • teaching resources aligned to the Australian Civics and Citizenship Curriculum.

The Office is managed by the Clerk Assistant (Procedure).

Committee Office

The Committee Office provides secretariat staff, research and administrative support and advice to the Senate's standing committees, select committees and certain joint committees. (Senators also serve on joint committees administered by the Department of the House of Representatives.)

The office is managed by the Clerk Assistant (Committees) who provides procedural advice and guidance to committees and committee secretariats and is a Clerk at the Table. In managing the Committee Office the Clerk Assistant (Committees) is assisted by the Senior Clerk of Committees who plays an important role in the coordination of resources between secretariats and in the dissemination of Committee Office information.

The Committee Office supports eight legislative and general purpose standing committees, four joint statutory committees and any select committee appointed by the Senate. The work of each legislative and general purpose standing committee is supported by a committee secretariat. The secretariat comprises the Clerk Assistant (Committees) as the Clerk's delegate, the committee secretary, one or more research officers, a Parliamentary Officer Class 4 whose chief role is to support the estimates process, and an administrative officer. The number of research officers assigned to a secretariat depends on workload, which is determined by the committee and ultimately by the Senate. Select and joint committees are provided with similar secretariats.

Black Rod's Office

Black Rod's Office provides a range of services to senators and the department which includes the management of office accommodation in Parliament House and its annexes, and the supply and management of equipment, furniture, information systems, transport, stores, electronic publishing, printing and messenger services. In addition, the office is responsible for the security of the Senate and its offices, the arrangement of ceremonies connected with the sittings of the Senate and the supervision of the broadcasting of the proceedings of the Senate.

Also within the Black Rod’s Office, the Human Resource Management Section is responsible for the payment of salaries and allowances to senators and departmental staff, recruitment, the administration and maintenance of the department’s records, the provision of advice and assistance in relation to performance management, work health and safety, compensation, learning and development and the administration of entitlements contained in agreements and determinations.

The Financial Management Section advises on financial policy, coordinates preparation of the department’s budgets, prepares annual financial statements, processes purchases and accounts, collects revenue, ensures compliance with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and the Rules, reports to management on the use of financial resources, and administers the department’s fraud control policy.