Handbook Online Help

Parliamentary Handbook Online Help

The Parliamentary Handbook is a new site that is currently in beta. It is a reference source that displays the history of the Parliament, its Members, Senators, Committees, Ministries and Shadow Ministries. For the day to day work of the current Parliament, please visit the main Parliament of Australia website.

We continue to check the quality of the information presented, but if we did miss something you can let us know via our contact form. Please select Parliamentary Handbook as the query type.

The previous version of the Parliamentary Handbook is also available. 

Menu

A vertical menu is available wherever you are in the Parliamentary Handbook. Click the menu button on the top left of the page to toggle the vertical menu on or off. On smaller screens, click outside of the menu to close it.

Screen requirements

The Parliamentary Handbook is best viewed on devices with larger screens such as tablets, laptop and desktop computers. Small screen devices such as mobile phones may not provide the same level of user experience.

Recent versions of commonly used internet browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Edge and Safari are recommended for the best display and user experience.

Parliamentarians

Sourcing biographical data

Parliamentarians are invited to provide information for inclusion in their Parliamentary Handbook biography. There may be a delay between a parliamentarian taking office and their biography being made available in the handbook, to allow for this information to be provided to the handbook editor. 

Information listed in the Qualifications and Occupations sections of biographies are supplied by parliamentarians and have not been updated by the handbook editor, so variations on terms may provide more thorough search results, e.g. “adviser”, “policy adviser” and “senior policy adviser” are all occupations that appear in biographies.

Biographical information such as publications and qualifications may be representative in nature and therefore should not be considered exhaustive. Further details of publications may be available from the Parliamentary Library catalogue.

Searching and filtering

Parliamentarian biographies contain full names, including middle names and preferred names (shown in brackets). If using the Name search isn’t providing useful results, try searching surname first.

The More button on the right end of the search bar provides six further filter options.

Parliamentarians who have represented multiple parties or electorates

Parliamentarian portrait tiles will display the most recent office held and party represented. Parliamentarians who have held office in two or more electorates, or in both chambers, will appear in the results for any relevant search relating to any of those offices. Likewise, a Parliamentarian will appear in the results of any relevant search for any party they have been a member of. Exact dates for party membership are not currently available within the Handbook. 

Links to other Handbook sections

The following sections of a Parliamentarian biography contain data that is linked. Clicking on those elements will contextualise the information on another pageParties Represented, Ministerial Appointments, Shadow Ministry Appointments, Committee Service, Electorate (for Members). When a Parliamentarian holds a Ministry or Shadow Ministry position over more than one ministry continuously, the links from the Parliamentarian’s biography will go to the first ministry in which that position was held for that period of service.

Further resources

The following websites may provide additional useful information.   

The Biographical Dictionary of the Australian Senate

Women in Federal Parliament

Australian Dictionary of Biography

Image acknowledgements

Aside from the exceptions listed below, portraits contained within the Parliamentary Handbook are subject to the Copyright conditions listed on the Copyright page.

The portrait of the Hon. Reginald Blundell appears in the Parliamentary Handbook with the approval of the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Parliament of South Australia. Any requests in respect of this image should be directed to the House of Assembly. 

The portrait of Arnold Wienholt is from The Home: an Australian quarterly, vol. 17, no. 7 (1 July 1936).

Ministries

How a Ministry is defined

Ministries are separated at a change in government, change in leader or at renewal after a general election. Individual Ministerial appointments may change during the life of a ministry or continue across ministries if there is not a change in government.

By convention, the Governor-General commissions the leader of the majority party or coalition in the House of Representatives to form a government. It is also a matter of convention to include a number of Senators in the Ministry.

Portfolios

In most instances a Minister will be responsible for one portfolio at a time, with Prime Ministers and Deputy Prime Ministers a notable exception

Where a Minister is listed as holding multiple portfolios, or a portfolio is listed against multiple Ministers, it is likely that the portfolio responsibility changed during the life of the ministry. Clicking on a Minister’s entry to view their Parliamentarian biography will provide specific dates of service for each portfolio

Searching within a ministry for a specific position or portfolio will indicate where there has been a change of Minister during that ministry. 

Prior to September 2015 Assistant Ministers were known as Parliamentary Secretaries.

Shadow Ministries

How a Shadow Ministry is defined

Shadow Ministries are the Opposition counterpoint to Government Ministries and behave in a similar manner. As Shadow Ministries may change leadership at separate times to Ministries, the numbering of the two are not aligned and dates should be used to determine when Ministries and Shadow Ministries are parallel.

Electorates

Dates for electorates and Members’ service

Service dates and electorate dates do not start and end at the same time. An electorate must exist in advance of a Member being elected to represent it, and the electorateis considered effective from the next election. A Member finishes out their elected term of representation after that electorate has been retired.At the following election the Member may then choose to campaign in a different, sometimes newly established, electorate.

The process of changing electorate boundaries is known as a redistribution. New electoratesmay be established,or existing electorates retired, as a result of the redistribution process. Some electorates have been retired and then re-established with the same name, which will result in a gap in services dates on the relevant electorate page. 

When viewing an electorate page, the list of Members will display with the most recent party represented by a given Member. This may not be the party that the Member represented when elected in that instance.

For more detail on electoral boundaries, redistributions and electorate naming conventions, please visit the Australian Electoral Commission

Committees

Committees are groups of Senators, Members, or both (known as Joint committees), tasked to undertake specific duties on behalf of one or both chambers. Committees include government and non-government members. 

Committee service may include positions such as Chair, Co-chair or Deputy Chair. Where possible, this information has been noted within Online Handbook. Unfortunately, recording of these positions is inconsistent, so there may be instances where Parliamentarian is listed as a general member of a committee, when some or all of that service included chairing responsibilities.

Where a Parliamentarian has served on the same committee for two or more separate periods, each period of service will be represented in the committee list.  

Please note: As there are some discrepancies in service dates, we are reviewing Committee membership data against multiple sources to confirm accuracy. This notice will be updated to reflect the progress of the review and verification process.

Further information is available regarding current work of committees and the Senate committee system

Parties

To view list of Party members, search for a member of the relevant party in the Parliamentarians section of the handbook. You can do this by name, if you already know of a member of the party, or by using the party drop-down filter. Click on the Parliamentarian, and on their biography page click on the name of the party in the Parties Represented section.