ACT Legislative Assembly

Transcript: The Role of the Clerk

Tom Duncan: Hello, I am Tom Duncan and I am the clerk of the Legislative Assembly for the Australian Capital Territory. When I was at school I studied political science and I was lucky enough to be chosen to attend a youth parliament, held in this building. Whilst at the youth parliament I struck up a conversation with the then clerk and it was then that I realised that there was a whole career working in and around parliament.

What does a Clerk do?

Tom Duncan: As custodians of the parliament the clerks play a very important role. They are relied upon for their institutional knowledge and their impartiality. Clerks work for all members be they government, opposition or minor parties. That’s very different to a director general who works to a minister.

A rewarding and challenging role

Tom Duncan: On a sitting day I sit here in the Assembly chamber. I provide advice to all members, take the minutes of proceedings of the Assembly and certify all laws passed by the Assembly.

What are the rules and customs that govern parliaments?

Tom Duncan: The most challenging aspect of being a clerk is making sure you are aware of all the customs and practices of the Assembly, including the 280 standing orders. Standing orders are the rules that govern the operation of the Assembly, and cover such things as when the Assembly meets, how long a member can speak for and how a law is enacted.

It’s your Assembly, be involved…

Tom Duncan: Much of the work undertaken by the office I lead is to raise awareness and encourage participation. So, if you have the chance, come and watch the proceedings of the Assembly in the public gallery or in the committee rooms, or watch online.


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Page last updated on 3 January 2018
2015 Legislative Assembly for the ACT