The Office of Parliamentary Counsel (OPC) was established under the Parliamentary Counsel Act 1970.
The functions of OPC are:
- the drafting of proposed laws for introduction into either House of the Parliament; and
- the drafting of amendments of proposed laws that are being considered by either House of the Parliament; and
- the drafting of subordinate legislation; and
- the preparing of compilations and reprints of, and information relating to, laws of the Commonwealth; and
- the publishing, and the making of arrangements for the printing and publishing, of:
- laws, and proposed laws, of the Commonwealth; and
- compilations and reprints of laws of the Commonwealth; and
- information relating to laws of the Commonwealth; and
- the preparing and publishing of Government Notices Gazettes, including Special and Periodic Gazettes; and
- functions conferred on the Office (or on First Parliamentary Counsel) under the Acts Publication Act 1905, the Legislative Instruments Act 2003 and any other laws of the Commonwealth; and
- with the written approval of the Minister—the provision of assistance to a foreign country in relation to the drafting, printing or publishing of laws of the country or information relating to those laws; and
- functions conferred by the regulations; and
- functions incidental to any of the preceding functions.
Services and training
The Office of Parliamentary Counsel (OPC) provides timely, high quality legislative drafting and publication services. These include drafting and advisory services for Commonwealth Bills, legislative instruments and other instruments as well as comprehensive public access to Commonwealth legislation, particularly through ComLaw.
The drafters of Bills and instruments work closely together to produce legally effective legislation that is as clear, consistent and precise as possible.
In addition to OPC’s budget-funded drafting work on Bills, regulations, Proclamations, rules of court and Territory legislation, OPC also provides other specialist legislation drafting and publishing services on a fee-for-service basis. OPC is available to provide government agencies with drafting, editing, compilation and publication services for legislative and other instruments.
OPC also conducts Legislation Process Courses for staff of Australian government agencies to explain the process of developing legislation.
See the Services and training page for further information.
OPC has a staff of approximately 125. This consists of 3 statutory officers—the First Parliamentary Counsel and 2 Second Parliamentary Counsel—and staff employed under the Public Service Act 1999. There are approximately 55 drafters, 40 publications staff and 30 corporate services staff including editorial, legislation, finance, administration and IT services. Corporate services staff provide editorial, Bill process, finance, administration and IT services.
The corporate objectives of OPC are:
- to provide a timely and high quality service in the performance of its drafting and publication functions;
- to draft legislation in as clear a style as possible, consistent with maintaining precision;
- to promote the development of new approaches to legislative drafting to reflect changes in legal policy and in the expectations of the community;
- to pursue staff development so that the best use is made of the resources available to OPC and career and advancement opportunities for all staff are enhanced; and
- to promote the efficient and effective management of the resources of OPC.
OPC promotes its objectives by, among other things, regularly reviewing its work practices and operating methods to ensure that they:
- promote the production of draft legislation that is effective to achieve its purposes and is in a clear style;
- are consistent with speed and efficiency in the work of OPC; and
- are consistent with the provision of adequate development opportunities for staff.
OPC continues to develop and implement procedures for making laws easier to read and understand through the use of plain English and other modern drafting techniques. There is also increasing pressure to rewrite existing Acts and legislative instruments using such techniques.
Further information about OPC is available from the OPC documents page on this website.