The Serjeant-at-Arms is a parliamentary officer in the House of Representatives. This fact sheet explores their role and the history of the position.
What will I learn?
- The Serjeant-at-Arms is a parliamentary officer who works in the House of Representatives.
- The Serjeant-at-Arms assists with the day-to-day working of the House of Representatives.
Who is the Serjeant-at-Arms?
The Serjeant-at-Arms is a senior parliamentary officer in the House of Representatives. They assist the House to do its work. The Serjeant-at-Arms is one of the few people allowed inside the House who is not a member of parliament.
House of Representatives role
The Serjeant-at-Arms carrying the Mace.
The Serjeant-at-Arms carrying the Mace in the House of Representatives. Behind her is the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
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- leading the Speaker of the House of Representatives into and out of the House of Representatives, while carrying the Mace
- assisting the Speaker to maintain order in both the House and public galleries
- recording the attendance of members
- standing guard during a division when the doors to the House are locked
- delivering formal messages from the House to the Senate
- participating in formal ceremonial occasions, such as the opening of Parliament.
The Serjeant-at-Arms has several important responsibilities outside of the House to assist members to do their work:
- organising office accommodation and supplies for members and their staff
- organising security in the House of Representative areas of Parliament House
- advising the Speaker on broadcasting the meetings of the House
- organising bookings for visitors to the House of Representatives.
Originally, Serjeants-at-Arms were members of the English royal bodyguard. In 1415 Nicholas Maundit was appointed to serve as the first Serjeant-at-Arms for the British House of Commons. The Australian Parliament adopted this tradition in 1901.
In the past, the Serjeant-at-Arms wore silver buckled shoes, stockings, knee breeches, a jabot (white lace around the neck), lace cuffs, white gloves and a ceremonial sword. On normal sitting days the Serjeant-at-Arms wears a black business suit. On ceremonial occasions, they wear a simple version of the traditional dress.