Government guidelines for official witnesses before Committees

In the Australian system of parliamentary government, and consistent with the traditional understanding of ministerial responsibility, the public and parliamentary advocacy and defence of government policies and administration has traditionally been, and should remain, the preserve of Ministers, not officials. The duty of the public servant is to assist ministers to fulfil their accountability obligations by providing full and accurate information to the Parliament about the factual and technical background to policies and their administration.

The Guidelines are published by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and are designed to assist departmental and agency officials, statutory office holders and the staff of statutory authorities in their dealings with the parliament.