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 Chapter 3 - About the portfolio

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About the portfolio

The Attorney-General's portfolio

The Attorney-General's Department leads a portfolio that provides expert advice and services on a range of law and justice issues to the Attorney-General, the Minister for Home Affairs and Justice and the Australian Government.

The portfolio encompasses a diverse range of responsibilities as listed below. By providing high quality and well-coordinated advice, the Attorney-General's Department and the portfolio contribute cooperatively to the Government's long-term reform agenda for a stronger, fairer and more secure Australia.

Portfolio ministers

Minister for Emergency Management

The Hon Nicola Roxon MP The Hon Robert McClelland MP
The Hon Nicola Roxon MP
Since 14 December 2011
Minister for Emergency Management
since 5 March 2012
The Hon Robert McClelland MP
3 December 2007 - 14 December 2011
Minister for Emergency Management
14 December 2011 - 5 March 2012


Areas of responsibility - Attorney-General:

  • Administrative law
  • Alternative dispute resolution
  • Appointments
  • Australian Government protective security policy
  • Bankruptcy law
  • Community legal services
  • Constitutional issues
  • Coordination of Dignitary Protection, Major Government Event Security and Physical Security Risks
  • Copyright
  • Courts, tribunals and the judiciary
  • Criminal law (legislation and policy), including but not limited to:
    • Anti-corruption
    • Anti-money laundering
    • Criminal procedure, enforcement powers and tools
    • Cyber crime
    • Organised crime
    • People smuggling (Responsibility for people smuggling issues is jointly held between the Attorney-General and the Minister for Home Affairs)
    • People trafficking
  • Critical infrastructure resilience
  • Customary law
  • Electronic transactions regulation
  • Evidence Act
  • Family law, including marriage celebrants
  • Freedom of information
  • Human rights
  • Identity security
  • Indigenous justice
  • Indigenous legal aid
  • Intercountry adoption
  • International Criminal Court
  • International law
  • Law reform
  • Legal aid
  • Legal profession and legal services coordination
  • National security, including:
    • Auscheck
    • Capability development
    • Chemicals of security concern
    • Countering violent extremism
    • Counter-terrorism policy and coordination
    • Critical Infrastructure Resilience
    • Cyber security outreach to business including CERT Australia
Law and policy, including counter-terrorism
    • National Security Hotline
    • Telecommunications interception
    • Tracking and listening devices
  • Native title
  • Oversight of international legal assistance aid strategy and policy
  • Personal Property Securities
  • Portfolio Budget
  • Privacy
  • Pro bono legal assistance
  • Royal commissions

Areas of responsibility - Emergency management:

  • Commonwealth responses to natural disaster inquiries of national significance
  • Emergency management education and training
  • Emergency management relief, recovery and mitigation policy
  • Emergency management volunteering
  • Emergency management capability development, including: Aerial fire-fighting
  • Bushfire arson
  • Emergency warnings
  • Exercising
  • Fire danger rating arrangements
  • New technology forums
  • Natural and civil disaster crisis management
  • Natural disaster financial assistance including:
    • Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment
    • Payments to the states and territories
  • Natural disaster resilience policy
  • Natural Disaster Resilience Program
  • National Emergency Management Program
  • Policy lead and whole-of-government coordination of emergency management planning, including:
    • Australian Government disaster response plans
    • Commonwealth physical support to disasters.

Minister for Home Affairs
Minister for Justice

The Hon Jason Clare MP The Hon Brendan O’Connor MP
The Hon Jason Clare MP
Minister for Home Affairs
since 14 December 2011
Minister for Justice
Since 14 December 2011
The Hon Brendan O'Connor MP
Minister for Home Affairs
9 June 2009 - 14 December 2011
Minister for Justice
14 September 2010 - 14 December 2011



Areas of responsibility:

  • Airport physical security (to the extent that it is not the responsibility of the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport)
  • Border protection
  • Classification
  • Crime prevention
  • Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce
  • Federal prisoners (except in relation to prisoners convicted of terrorist offences)
  • Firearms
  • Fraud policy
  • International crime cooperation casework (extradition, mutual assistance and international transfer of prisoners) to the extent that the casework is not concerned with national security, which is the responsibility of the Attorney-General] including policy, legislation and treaties
  • Illicit drugs
  • Juvenile diversion program
  • Operational and enforcement issues which may relate to criminal law
  • Pardons, prerogatives and petitions of mercy
  • People smuggling (Responsibility for people smuggling issues is jointly held between the Attorney-General and the Minister for Home Affairs)
  • Police and police liaison
  • Proceeds of crime, including administration of grants from the Confiscated Assets Account under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Cth)
  • Witness protection.

Portfolio structure

The Attorney-General's Department leads the portfolio, which incorporates the twenty-one statutory and non-statutory bodies listed below. 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). The annual reporting requirements and arrangements for those portfolio elements which are not covered by this report are set out in Appendix 1.

The Attorney-General's Department is the central policy and coordinating element of the portfolio, providing leadership on issues critical to effective delivery of the portfolio's responsibilities. Building on the 2009-10 organisational restructure, the department has implemented a coordinated, whole-of-portfolio approach to the key priorities of the ministers and government, and provides strategic leadership of the portfolio's Budget process.

Portfolio agencies


Administrative Appeals Tribunal

Australian Government Solicitor

Australian Human Rights Commission

Australian Law Reform Commission

Australian Security Intelligence Organisation

Family Court of Australia

Federal Court of Australia

Federal Magistrates Court of Australia

High Court of Australia

Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia

National Native Title Tribunal

Office of Parliamentary Counsel

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

Office of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

Minister for Home Affairs

Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI)

Australian Crime Commission

Australian Customs and Border Protection Service

Australian Federal Police

Australian Institute of Criminology

Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC)



Our people

Informing Australians about risk - the Common Alerting Protocol

supporting Australia to become more resilient to disasters

A key tenet of the National Strategy for Disaster Resilience (NSDR) relates to helping individuals, families and communities better understand the risks they face and for them to use this information when making decisions, particularly around personal safety. To do this we need to ensure information is made available to people quickly, in a form they can readily access and in a way that means the message is consistent whether provided by telephone (voice or text), email, radio, television or some other medium. Importantly, this messaging also has to resonate with the population it is intended for - not every word or phrase means the same in every country, in fact in some the meaning is very different indeed. Providing this information is not only crucial in helping people prepare for imminent hazards, it is also important to communicate clear consistent information during the response and recovery phases of an event.

To ensure we can meet this need the Attorney-General's Department has developed in partnership with states, territories and international partners a new standard for communicating warnings and alerts in Australia. The ‘Common Alerting Protocol - Australian Profile (CAP-AU-STD)' uses Australian terminology for natural hazards and community emergencies. It ensures information is communicated in a manner appropriate to Australian audiences, considering the needs, interests and technologies used within Australian communities. The new standard is recognised as international best practice, supporting messaging across the emergency management spectrum of prevention, preparedness, response and recovery.

For the first time we will have nationally consistent emergency and public safety information messaging across Australia. The new standard improves Australia's capability to transmit messages quickly across a range of media, such as TV, radio and compatible devices such as mobile phones and road-side signs enhancing emergency warning systems. The standard also ensures messages retain their meaning across the country allowing response agencies, the media and the Australian public to easily recognise and interpret the warnings and alerts and what actions they need to consider and/or take.

The overarching aim of this new capability is to support Australia to become more resilient to disasters, by having a clearer understanding of warnings and alerts and what to do about them, particularly at the community level. The department has released the new CAP standard for public use via www.em.gov.au/CapAuStd.

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