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Officers of the Queensland Parliament

Elected officers

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.

Deputy Speaker 

After the election of the Speaker, a Deputy Speaker is appointed by a resolution of the House. This office is established by the Parliament of Queensland Act 2001 (s.17). Under this Act the Deputy Speaker must preside over all meetings of the Committee of the Whole House and act as Speaker in the Speaker's absence and while doing so is called the Deputy Speaker.

Temporary Speakers

At the commencement of each Parliament, a panel of no more than eight members is appointed by the Speaker to act as Temporary Speakers. When a Temporary Speaker occupies the Chair, he or she is known as the Deputy Speaker.

Permanent officers

Because elected parliamentary officers are confronted with the vagaries of electoral chance, as well as the need to service their constituencies, a group of officers are employed as permanent advisers, recorders and parliamentary administrators.

The Clerk of the Parliament

Chief among these officers is the Clerk of the Parliament who assists the Speaker and advises Members with interpretation of parliamentary procedures and Standing Rules and Orders.

The Clerk is responsible for ensuring all proceedings of the Assembly are recorded in the Record of Proceedings; distribution of Bills and Notice Papers; and has custody of all documents in the possession of the Assembly. All legislation passed by the Assembly is certified by the Clerk prior to the Governor's Royal Assent. The Clerk is also the Chief Executive Officer of the Parliamentary Service and is responsible for the efficient and economical management of the parliamentary administration.

The Sergeant-at-Arms

The Sergeant-at-Arms is the bearer of the Mace which symbolises the Speaker's and hence the Parliament's authority, as separate from the Crown's.

Dating back to the 15th century when Henry V required one of his bodyguards to attend the House of Commons and enforce the Parliament's privileges, today's Sergeant is still responsible for the maintenance of order in the Public Gallery and at the Speaker's request, can escort a suspended Member from the Chamber.

Chief Hansard Reporter

The Chief Hansard Reporter is responsible for a team of reporters who report and edit the parliamentary debates (named Hansard after the family which was granted permission to report the British parliamentary debates between 1812 and 1899), as well as the reporting of evidence presented at parliamentary committees and commissions of inquiry. 

Parliamentary Librarian

The Parliamentary Librarian heads a team of librarians and research officers who are responsible for the preparation of Member's  information and research requirements, as well as the publication of information briefs aimed at Members' interests.

Parliamentary Service - other staff

Besides the previously mentioned permanent officers, support is also provided from other staff in the areas of financial administration, human resource management, information technology, training, committees, parliamentary education, protocol, catering, security and attendant services and the maintenance of the building and grounds.

Associated officers

In Queensland, like most Westminster jurisdictions, there are statutory officers sometimes defined in legislation as ‘officers of parliament’ and sometimes colloquially regarded as officers of parliament. Even when a statutory officer is called an officer of Parliament, there is no further statutory significance of that designation. That is, their powers, duties and functions flow from their statute, not from their designation.

The Ombudsman, Information Commissioner, Queensland Integrity Commissioner, Information Commissioner and Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Commissioner are all stated in their legislation to be “officers of parliament”. The Ombudsman established by the Ombudsman Act 2001 investigates grievances against the actions of State Government departments, local and statutory authorities and their officers.  The Information Commissioner established by the Right to Information Act 2009 (RI Act) investigates and reviews decisions of agencies and Ministers taken under the RI Act and reviews and reports on agencies in relation to the operation of the RI Act and the Information Privacy Act. The Queensland Integrity Commissioner established by the Integrity Act 2009 gives advice to designated persons and members of Parliament on ethics or integrity issues and keeps the lobbyists register and has responsibility for the registration of lobbyists. All of the above officers of parliament report to parliament via the Speaker.

The Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Commissioner established by the Crime and Corruption Act 2001 assists the Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee in the performance of its functions. The Commissioner reports to the PCCC and their reports are often tabled by the Chair of the PCCC on behalf of the committee.

The Auditor-General established under the  Auditor-General Act 2009 audits the accounts of departments and statutory authorities in terms of their parliamentary appropriations.  The Auditor-General reports to parliament via the Speaker. The Auditor-General is not stated by the AGA to be an ‘officer of Parliament’, but would be generally regarded as such.

Other officers that have a close relationship with the Legislative Assembly, mainly through the respective portfolio committee that has oversight of the officers, include: the Family Responsibilities Commissioner, the Electoral Commissioner, the Queensland Family and Child Commissioner and the Health Ombudsman.