This website will be progressively updated as the final outcome of the election of 2 July is known, and as the 45th Parliament meets.

Learning

Serjeant-at-Arms

Fact Sheet – Serjeant-at-arms [PDF 227kb, 1 page]

The Serjeant-at-Arms is a parliamentary officer in the House of Representatives. They are one of the few people, other than members of parliament, who work in the chamber.

The duties of the Serjeant-at-Arms are conducted both within the chamber and the Department of the House of Representatives.

Chamber role

The Serjeant-at-Arms has several responsibilities within the chamber, including:

  • escorting the Speaker into and out of the chamber, while carrying the Mace (see Mace)
  • assisting the Speaker to maintain order in the chamber and the public galleries of the House of Representatives
  • recording the attendance of members
  • standing guard during a division vote when all chamber doors are locked
  • delivering formal messages from the House of Representatives to the Senate
  • playing an important role in ceremonial occasions, such as the opening of Parliament.

The Serjeant-at-Arms is required to be in the chamber at the beginning of each sitting day, during Question Time, divisions and after meal breaks.

Department role

When not in the chamber, the Serjeant-at-Arms works from an office in the Department of the House of Representatives and has several responsibilities, including:

  • organising office accommodation and supplies for members and staff
  • maintaining security in the House of Representatives areas of Parliament House
  • advising the Speaker on broadcasting House proceedings
  • organising bookings for visitors to the House of Representatives.

History

The role of the Serjeant-at-Arms dates back to early British history. Originally, serjeants-at-arms were members of the British royal bodyguard. In the fourteenth century, a royal Serjeant-at-Arms was appointed to serve in the British House of Commons. From its beginning, the Australian Parliament adopted the practice of appointing a Serjeant-at-Arms to serve in the House of Representatives.

Dress

Traditionally, the Serjeant-at-Arms wore silver-buckled shoes, stockings, knee-breeches, black coat with a large rosette on the back, waistcoat, stiff shirt front, white lace around the neck (called a jabot) and cuffs, white gloves and a ceremonial sword. In the current Parliament, the Serjeant-at-Arms usually wears a modified version of this costume.