The Speaker

After a general election and at the beginning of the first parliamentary sitting day, a Member is elected by secret ballot to the position of Speaker. Normally, the Government's nominee is successful, since the Government controls the numbers in the House.
The office of Speaker is an ancient one dating back to the early English parliaments in the 14th century. Unlike the Speaker of the British House of Commons, the Speaker of the Queensland Parliament does not resign from his or her political party and is still required to contest elections.

As the chief presiding officer of the Parliament, the Speaker chairs the debates and enforces the rules (known as Standing Orders) to ensure orderly conduct in the Chamber. In both instances, the Speaker is expected to demonstrate impartiality. However, the Speaker may participate in debates and in a tied voting situation has a casting vote.

The Speaker enjoys considerable powers within a parliamentary jurisdiction and can issue by-election writs, warrants for parliamentary privilege offenders and, if necessary, have brought before the Bar of the Parliament such offenders for rebuke or sentence.

Administratively, the Speaker has control of the Parliamentary Service and is responsible for the Parliament's policies, budget, services and administration. The Speaker may be assisted with these duties by an advisory committee.

The Mace

The Mace is the symbol of the Parliament’s authority via the Speaker, which has been derived from the Crown. The Mace is carried by the Sergeant-at-Arms when the Speaker enters or leaves the Chamber at the commencement and conclusion of the sitting day. It was originally an ancient weapon of war which, over the centuries, has been transformed into a symbolic, ceremonial instrument representing parliamentary independence. While the Parliament is sitting, the Mace is placed on two raised brackets on the Table, with the ceremonial head pointing towards the Government’s side of the Chamber.

In 1978, the Queensland Parliament had its own Mace designed and constructed in Britain by Birmingham goldsmiths and silversmiths, Marples and Beasley. It is 122 cms in length, weighs 7.7 kgs, and is made of sterling silver with a heavy, hard, gold plating. There are 32 Queensland gemstones set in the Mace - nine opals, two garnets, six amethysts and 15 sapphires.

The Bars of the House

In the Queensland Parliament, a heavy brass rail at the rear of the Chamber plus two wooden rails at the front form the dividing line between the Chamber and the areas outside. When the House is sitting, only elected Members or select staff can go beyond the Bars, thus precluding the entry of strangers. The Bars are closed when the bells, summoning Members to the Chamber for a division, cease ringing and no Member can enter or leave the Chamber until they are reopened. The Bars are the boundaries from which persons can receive thanks, be examined by the House to provide information or documents, or be called to answer charges or receive punishment.

The Clerk of the Parliament

  • is the principal officer of the Legislative Assembly and assists the Speaker with interpreting the Standing Rules and Orders of the Assembly and provides advice on procedural matters
  • is responsible for ensuring that all proceedings of the Assembly (such as the introduction and debate of Bills, questions moved and debated, the results of any division and documents tabled) are accurately recorded in the Record of Proceedings
  • has custody of all documents tabled in the Assembly
  • certifies all legislation passed by the Assembly and prepares it for Royal Assent by the Governor
  • is assisted by the Deputy Clerk and Clerk Assistants who, with the Clerk, are collectively known as Table Officers
  • under the Parliamentary Service Act is the chief executive of the Parliament and is responsible for the efficient and economical management of the Parliamentary Service

Deputy Speaker (formerly known as Chairperson of Committees)

  • can, in the Speaker's absence, act as the Deputy Speaker in the Chamber during debates
  • chairs the Consideration-in-Detail stage of a legislative debate, when a Bill is debated clause by clause
  • like the Speaker, has a casting vote

The Sergeant-at-Arms

  • is traditionally the bearer of the Mace, which symbolises the Speaker's, (and thus the Parliament's) authority, which is separate from the Crown
  • under the Speaker's rulings can be required to escort suspended Members from the Chamber
  • ensures that order is maintained in the public gallery and can take into custody any stranger who is guilty of misconduct in the gallery