In 2017-18, the office assisted non-executive senators and their staff by providing advice, both written and oral, relating to the role and work of the Senate and its committees, and the Parliament more generally. There was strong demand for such advice, particularly during sitting periods. Advice was provided on many procedural issues, including the constitutional powers of the Senate, the legislative process, the process for disallowance of delegated legislation, reference of matters to committees and opportunities for debate. The office also provided research support to the Clerk and Deputy Clerk on matters of practice and procedure.
Staff ensured the accuracy of advice by researching appropriate precedents and consulting other departmental officers, particularly the Clerk and the Deputy Clerk. Advice was non-partisan, consistent, and provided to senators and their staff in a timely fashion often within extremely short time frames.
In 2017–18, the office prepared an average of 13 procedural scripts per sitting day for use by senators in the chamber, and a total of 727 scripts for the year. This represented a slight decrease in scripts per day on the previous year when an average of 15 scripts per sitting day were drafted. These scripts assist senators to pursue matters of concern to them through, for example, orders for the production of documents, committee references and the introduction of bills.
The office also checked material for procedural accuracy on request from senators and their staff. The advice provided was accurate and provided in time to enable senators to use this material in the Senate and elsewhere.