Questions on notice—Advice for departments and agencies

Submission and publication of questions on notice

Questions on notice are directed to the responsible minister in the Senate. If the question relates to matters within the responsibility of a House of Representatives minister are directed to the Senate minister representing that House minister.

Questions on notice are submitted to and published online by the Senate Table Office on the questions on notice database and ParlWork.

Individual questions may be searched for in the database or accessed in ParlWork at the link*** (with the asterisks replaced by the number of the respective question).

Tips for searching the database are available on the help page.

How to provide an answer to a Senate question on notice

Answers to questions on notice must be provided in both Microsoft Word and PDF format by email to The email must identify the question number to which the answer relates and confirm that the answer has been approved by the relevant minister.

If an answer includes an attachment, both the answer and attachment must be incorporated into a single PDF. The PDF should not contain covering material, such as the approval signed by the minister.

Hard copies of answers to questions on notice are not required to be provided.

Due dates for answers

Answers should be provided to questions as soon as is practicable.

If an answer to a question on notice has not been provided within 30 calendar days the questioning senator may, at the conclusion of question time on any sitting day, seek an explanation from the minister as to why the answer has not been provided (standing order 74(5)). Debate on a motion to take note of such an explanation is not time limited.

Distribution of answers

Once an answer has been submitted the answer is emailed to the questioning senator and published online in the questions on notice database and ParlWork.

Procedure for transferring questions

A question directed to a minister within one department may be transferred to a minister in the same or a different department that is better placed to answer the question. The relevant departments are responsible for negotiating the transfer of questions.

If a question is transferred between departments the accepting department must inform the Table Office (via email to that the question has been transferred. The email must clearly identify the question number and the Senate minister that will provide the answer.

If a question is transferred between two ministers in the same department the department must still inform the Table Office of the transfer. Again, the email should clearly identify the question number and the Senate minister that will provide the answer.

Once advised of a transfer,the Table Office updates the online database and advises the questioning senator of the transfer.

Questions directed at multiple ministers

A senator may ask the same question of multiple ministers. If consolidated answer is to be provided, the questions should be transferred to the minister that will provide the consolidated answer. The answer must clearly indicate all of the question numbers to which the answer relates.


For any further information, contact the Senate Table Office:
Telephone: (02) 6277 3010

Related sources and links

Senate questions on notice database (alternative link)
Senate questions on notice help page
Senate Brief No. 12—Questions
Guide to Senate Procedure—No. 6—Questions
Standing orders and other orders of the Senate (see Chapter 11—Questions seeking information)
Odgers’ Australian Senate Practice (see Chapter 19—Relations with the executive government)