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 About the portfolio

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The Attorney-General’s portfolio provides expert advice and services on law, justice, national security, emergency management and cultural issues to our ministers and the Australian Government.

How the portfolio is structured

The portfolio includes the statutory office of the Solicitor-General, who is the Second Law Officer of the Commonwealth (the Attorney-General is the First Law Officer). As at 30 June 2015, the portfolio was structured as follows:

Department of state

  • Attorney-General’s Department

National security and law enforcement

  • Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity
  • Australian Crime Commission
  • Australian Federal Police
  • Australian Security Intelligence Organisation
  • Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions

Criminal intelligence and information

  • Australian Institute of Criminology
  • Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre
  • CrimTrac

Legal services

  • Australian Government Solicitor
  • Office of Parliamentary Counsel

Courts and tribunals

  • High Court of Australia
  • Federal Court of Australia
  • Family Court of Australia
  • Federal Circuit Court of Australia
  • Administrative Appeals Tribunal

Reform and oversight

  • Australian Human Rights Commission
  • Australian Law Reform Commission
  • Office of the Australian Information Commissioner


  • Australian Financial Security Authority

Management of government records

  • National Archives of Australia

Cultural affairs

  • Australia Council
  • Australian Film, Television and Radio School
  • Australian National Maritime Museum
  • Bundanon Trust
  • Creative Partnerships Australia
  • National Film and Sound Archive of Australia
  • National Gallery of Australia
  • National Library of Australia
  • National Museum of Australia
  • National Portrait Gallery of Australia
  • Old Parliament House
  • Screen Australia

Changes to the portfolio

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the Migration Review Tribunal and Refugee Review Tribunal, and the Social Security Appeals Tribunal were amalgamated into a single Administrative Appeals Tribunal, established under the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975, with effect from 1 July 2015.

The government also decided to consolidate the Australian Government Solicitor within the Attorney-General’s Department with effect from 1 July 2015. Following the consolidation, the government will conduct a review of legal services to identify efficiencies that can be gained in government legal costs. This measure is part of the third phase of the Smaller Government reforms, which reduce the size and complexity of government.

Our ministers and parliamentary secretary

As at 30 June 2015, the portfolio has two ministers and a parliamentary secretary: Senator the Hon George Brandis QC as Attorney-General and Minister for the Arts, the Hon Michael Keenan MP as Minister for Justice and the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Counter-Terrorism, and Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Parliamentary Secretary to the Attorney-General.

The department will work with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to support the Minister for Justice in his additional role as Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Counter-Terrorism and the Parliamentary Secretary in her role assisting the Attorney-General. The department will work closely with the Minister and Parliamentary Secretary on maintaining effective national security laws and policies and working with Australian communities to counter the risks posed by terrorist narratives and violent extremism.

About the department

Our role

The department was established as one of the original seven Australian Government departments in 1901 to serve as a legal and constitutional adviser to government. Despite changes in responsibilities over that 114-year history, our central role in government has remained constant. Today we support the Attorney-General as the First Law Officer of the Commonwealth, lead within government on justice and home affairs policy, protect and promote national security, and work actively to ensure broad participation in, and access to, Australia’s arts and culture.

Our outcome and programme structure

The Australian Government seeks to achieve benefits for the community (outcomes) primarily through programmes delivered by agencies. Our outcomes, programmes and performance targets are set out each year in the Portfolio Budget Statements and the Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements. This annual report responds to the performance measures set out in those documents, setting out our intended and actual performance for the year. Our outcomes and programmes are:

  • Outcome 1: A just and secure society through the maintenance and improvement of Australia’s law and justice framework and its national security and emergency management system
    • Programme 1.1: Attorney-General’s Department operating expenses—Civil justice and legal services
    • Programme 1.2: Attorney-General’s Department operating expenses—National security and criminal justice
    • Programme 1.3: Justice services
    • Programme 1.4: Family relationships
    • Programme 1.5: Indigenous law and justice
    • Programme 1.6: National security and criminal justice
    • Programme 1.7: Australian Government disaster financial support payments
    • Programme 1.8: Royal commissions
  • Outcome 2: Participation in, and access to, Australia’s arts and culture through developing and supporting cultural expression
    • Programme 2.1: Arts and cultural development

Changes to our outcome and programme structure

In the 2014–15 Portfolio Budget Statement the department’s programme structure reflected changes from the 2013–14 Portfolio Additional Estimates in which the Ministry of the Arts was consolidated into the department, which added an additional outcome (Outcome 2).

How we are structured

In 2014–15 the department was divided into three groups to deliver our programmes effectively and efficiently against strategic aims and broader portfolio objectives.

  • Civil Justice and Legal Services Group—responsible for matters including legal services provided to the Australian Government, federal courts and tribunals jurisdiction, resourcing and administration issues, family law, copyright, privacy, personal property securities, bankruptcy, intercountry adoption, commercial and administrative law, international law, human rights, legal assistance, native title, constitutional law, classification and the arts
  • National Security and Criminal Justice Group—responsible for national security, counter-terrorism and protective security, national security resilience policy, emergency management, criminal justice and international crime cooperation
  • Strategic Policy and Coordination Group—responsible for the provision of strategy and policy advice across the department, corporate counsel advice, cabinet and ministerial coordination, strategic communication, people and financial management, information technology and knowledge management.

Figure 1: Our organisational structure linked to outcomes and programmes at 30 June 2015

Attorney General Department organisational structure

Figure 1 alternate text

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