Attorney-General's Department (Australia)

Attorney-General's Department

Robert Garran Offices, head office of the Attorney-General's Department, located in Barton, Australian Capital Territory (ACT).
Department overview
Formed 1901[1]
Jurisdiction Commonwealth of Australia
Employees 1,461 (estimate for 2013–14)[2]
Annual budget A$800 million (2011–12)
Minister responsible
Department executive
Child agencies

The Australian Attorney-General's Department is a department of the Government of Australia charged with the responsibility to serve the people of Australia by providing essential expert support to the Government in the maintenance and improvement of Australia's system of law and justice. It is also the central policy and co-coordinating element of the department and its associated agencies.

The head of the department is the Secretary of the Attorney-General's Department, currently Chris Moraitis PSM, who reports to the Attorney-General of Australia, currently Senator the Hon. George Brandis QC.


The Attorney-General's Department is one of seven original Commonwealth Departments of state, commencing with the Commonwealth of Australia on 1 January 1901. It is one of only three departments, along with Defence and Treasury, to have operated continuously under their original name and charter since Federation.[3]


The department is organised into four groups, each headed by a Deputy Secretary. These Deputy Secretaries report to the Secretary who co-ordinates and devises departmental structure and policy.

These four groups are:

The Attorney-General's Department is located at the Robert Garran Offices, 3-5 National Circuit, Barton in the Australian Capital Territory.[4]

Departmental Secretary

On the recommendation of the Prime Minister, the Governor-General has appointed the following individuals as Secretary of the department:

Order Official Official title Date appointment
Date appointment
Term in office Ref(s)
1 Sir Robert Garran Secretary of the
Attorney‑General's Department
1 January 1901 9 February 193231 years, 39 days [5]
2 Sir George Knowles 10 February 1932 8 May 1946 14 years, 87 days[6]
3 Sir Kenneth Bailey 9 May 1946 2 February 1964 17 years, 269 days [7]
4 Ted Hook 3 February 1964 2 February 1970 5 years, 364 days [7][8]
5 Sir Clarrie Harders OBE 1970July 1979 9 years [9][10]
6 Alan Neaves July 1979March 1983 4 years[11]
7 Pat Brazil AO 16 March 1983 1989 6 years [12]
8 Alan Rose AO 1989 23 May 19945 years [13]
9 Stephen Skehill 23 May 1994 19984 years [14]
10 Tony Blunn AO 1998 17 December 1999 2 years [15]
11 Robert Cornall AO 24 January 2000 31 August 2008 8 years, 220 days [15][16]
12 Roger Wilkins AO 1 September 2008 31 August 20145 years, 364 days [16][17][18]
13 Chris Moraitis PSM 15 September 2014 incumbent 2 years, 83 days [19][20]

Mission and outcomes

The Office of Legislative Drafting and Publishing in Deakin, ACT. The Office is a division of the Attorney-General's Department.

The mission of the department is "achieving a just and secure society". In pursuing this mission, the department works towards achieving *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".

Operational functions

The Administrative Arrangements Order made on 18 September, following the 2013 federal election, details the following responsibilities to the department:[21]

The department does not provide legal advice to members of the public. While legislative drafting is listed in the Administrative Arrangements Order, the function was taken over by the Office of Parliamentary Counsel in July 2012.

See also


  1. CA 5: Attorney-General's Department, Central Office, National Archives of Australia, retrieved 25 October 2013
  2. Australian Government. "Budget Paper No. 1". 2013-14 Commonwealth Budget. Statement 6: Expenses and Net Capital Investment: Australian Government. Archived from the original on 24 September 2013.
  3. Cornall, Robert (2 November 2007), Redefining the role of Government lawyers in today's Public Service – ACLA National Conference 2007, archived from the original on 8 June 2011
  4. "Contact us". Attorney-General's Department. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
  5. Key People, National Archives of Australia, archived from the original on 11 February 2014
  6. Whitlam, E.G. (1983), Knowles, Sir George Shaw (1882–1947), archived from the original on 28 February 2014
  7. 1 2 Jennings, Rosemary (2007), Hook, Edwin John (Ted) (1910–1990), archived from the original on 28 February 2014
  8. "Obituary: Edwin Hook: Sound lawyer, good officer, reliable friend". The Canberra Times. 5 April 1990. p. 7. Archived from the original on 28 February 2014.
  9. Whitlam, Edward Gough; Hughes, Tom (10 March 1997). "An Adviser Who Gave His All". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 18 April 2013.
  10. Fraser, Malcolm (3 July 1979). "Retirement of Sir Clarrie Harders" (Press release). Archived from the original on 28 February 2014.
  11. Title: Senator the Honourable Gareth Evans, Attorney General with Alan Neaves, Secretary of the Attorney General's Department and another, National Archives of Australia
  12. Hawke, Robert (16 March 1983). "Appointment of permanent heads" (Press release). Archived from the original on 28 February 2014.
  13. Mr Alan Rose AO, Australian Government Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal, archived from the original on 4 February 2014
  14. Keating, Paul (11 May 1994). "Statement by the Prime Minister" (Press release). Archived from the original on 28 February 2014.
  15. 1 2 New Secretary Appointed To Attorney-General’s Department, Australian Politics, 8 December 1999, archived from the original on 30 April 2013
  16. 1 2 "Management and Accountability", Annual Report 2008–09, Attorney-General's Department, archived from the original on 12 February 2014
  17. "New Secretary for Attorney-General's Department" (PDF), The Australian Journal of Emergency Management, 24 (1), February 2009, archived from the original (PDF) on 12 February 2014
  18. Thomson, Phillip (1 September 2014). "Retired public servant Roger Wilkins urges colleagues to loosen up". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Archived from the original on 3 September 2014.
  19. Abbott, Tony (3 September 2014). "Appointment of Departmental Secretaries" (Press release). Archived from the original on 3 September 2014.
  20. Mannheim, Markus (3 September 2014). "Chris Moraitis joins the top table in Abbott's latest reshuffle of department heads". The Canberra Times. Fairfax Media. Archived from the original on 3 September 2014.
  21. "Administrative Arrangements Order" (PDF). Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Commonwealth of Australia. 18 September 2013. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
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