The press gallery is made up of approximately 250 journalists and related staff who work for newspapers, television, radio stations and other organisations that collect and publish information. The press gallery also describes the area of Parliament House in which journalists work. This includes offices, broadcasting studios and special viewing areas above the Presiding Officer's chair in both the Senate and House of Representatives.
David Foote/DPS AUSPIC
The role of the press gallery is to gather information and publish stories about what happens in federal Parliament. The stories might include items about Question Time, policies and decisions of the government and opposition and particular people such as ministers and shadow ministers.
Relationship with the Parliament
The press gallery and members of parliament both wish to publicise the work of the Parliament. Members of parliament depend on the media to inform the public about what is happening in the Australian Parliament. Ministers and shadow ministers are interviewed on television and radio from the Parliament House studios so that they can explain what they are doing in Parliament. Members of parliament call press conferences, inviting the press gallery to hear and ask questions about a particular issue. Members may also be interviewed as they enter and leave Parliament House; this is known as a doorstop interview. Members of parliament and the media do not always agree on events and the media may publish highly critical accounts of parliamentary activities.
The press gallery is influential because the journalists and media organisations are free to select the news and publish what they think is interesting and important. They decide which members of parliament they will interview and publicise. Journalists have a professional responsibility to find the truth about a subject and to compare information from different sources. In this way, the media exercises an important scrutinising role in the Parliament.
Relationship with the public
The public relies on the media to scrutinise the Parliament and government and to search out the truth of events and stories. As a result, the media have a lot of influence on public opinion, and members of parliament are careful in the way they work with journalists.
In the chambers
In both the House of Representatives and the Senate, there are special seats reserved for the press gallery. These are located above and behind the Speaker and the President where the journalists can see and hear everything that is happening. Subject to the Presiding Officers' approval, journalists sit in these galleries and take notes, especially during Question Time. They also watch the proceedings on television in their offices so that they can copy video clips for news programs.