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Second Parliamentary Counsel

Information about the Office of Parliamentary Counsel

The Office of Parliamentary Counsel (OPC) is the Commonwealth's principal provider of professional legislative drafting and publishing services. OPC is established under the Parliamentary Counsel Act 1970 (the Act).

OPC delivers timely, high quality drafting and advisory services for Bills, legislative instruments and other instruments; prepares compilations of laws as amended; and publishes legislation and government notices on behalf of more than 70 agencies. OPC also provides comprehensive, free access to Commonwealth legislation and related material through the Federal Register of Legislation.

OPC's functions include:

  • drafting proposed laws for introduction into parliament
  • drafting amendments of proposed laws that are being considered by parliament
  • drafting subordinate legislation such as regulations, proclamations and other legislative instruments
  • preparing compilations and reprints of Commonwealth laws
  • publishing:
    • laws, and proposed laws, of the Commonwealth
    • compilations and reprints of Commonwealth laws
    • information relating to Commonwealth laws
  • preparing and publishing Government Notices Gazettes
  • maintaining the Federal Register of Legislation
  • promoting the legal effectiveness and clarity of legislation, including by providing advice and training in drafting matters
  • other functions conferred on OPC or on the First Parliamentary Counsel under the Legislation Act 2003 and any other laws of the Commonwealth
  • with Ministerial approval, providing assistance to foreign countries in relation to drafting, printing or publishing of their laws

Further information about the services provided by OPC is available on the OPC website.

Role of Second Parliamentary Counsel

The position of Second Parliamentary Counsel (SPC) is a statutory office created under subsection 2(2) of the Act. The primary functions of the SPC are to:

  • contribute to the management and leadership of OPC
  • contribute to the development of OPC's drafting skills base and knowledge
  • lead a drafting team providing legislative consultancy and drafting services to government and occasionally to private members.


Section 4 of the Act provides that to be eligible for appointment as Second Parliamentary Counsel, a person must be a barrister, a solicitor, a barrister and solicitor or a legal practitioner of the High Court or of the Supreme Court of a state or territory for not less than 5 years.

Applicants must have, or be able to hold, a security clearance. To be eligible for an Australian Government security clearance, you must be an Australian citizen and have a checkable background.

Selection Criteria

In addition to meeting the eligibility criteria as set out above, applicants will need:

  • extensive experience and a high degree of expertise in drafting legislation
  • excellent knowledge of constitutional law and other areas of law relevant to the drafting of legislation
  • leadership and organisational management experience
  • to be able to meet the following selection criteria consistent with the APSC Merit and Transparency Guidelines for APS statutory office holder appointments:
    • Shapes strategic thinking
      • Inspires a sense of purpose and direction
      • Focuses strategically
      • Harnesses information and opportunities
      • Shows judgement, intelligence and common sense
    • Achieves results
      • Builds organisational capability and responsiveness
      • Marshals professional expertise
      • Steers and implements change and deals with uncertainty
      • Ensures closure and delivers on intended results
    • Cultivates productive working relationships
      • Nurtures internal and external relationships
      • Facilitates cooperation and partnerships
      • Values individual differences and diversity
      • Guides, mentors and develops people
    • Exemplifies personal drive and integrity
      • Demonstrates professionalism and probity
      • Engages with risk and shows personal courage
      • Commits to action
      • Displays resilience
      • Demonstrates self-awareness and a commitment to personal development
    • Communicates with influence
      • Communicates clearly
      • Listens, understands and adapts to audience
      • Negotiates persuasively

Terms and conditions

Under the Act, a Second Parliamentary Counsel is appointed by the Governor-General. The term of appointment is up to 7 years with the Act providing for reappointment. This is a full‑time position based in Canberra.

Remuneration and allowances for the position are set by the Remuneration Tribunal. Remuneration Tribunal (Remuneration and Allowances for Holders of Full‑time Public Office) Determination 2021 can be viewed on the Remuneration Tribunal website.

How to apply

Applications must include:

  • an expression of interest, of no more than 4 pages, including a statement of claims against the eligibility and selection criteria as outlined
  • a comprehensive resume including full particulars of qualifications, experience and expertise
  • the names and contact details of at least two referees who have direct and relevant experience of the applicant's work. Applicants will be notified prior to referees being contacted.

Applications should be emailed to by 5:00 pm (AEDST) on Friday, 19 November 2021.


Enquiries about the position or application can be emailed to

Assessment process

Applicants will be initially assessed by the assessment panel on their written application. Shortlisted applicants will be further assessed by the assessment panel at interview.


All advice and communication will be sent to applicants via email. Please ensure the email address you provide is correct.