Attorney-General's Department (Australia)

The Attorney-General's Department is a department of the federal government of Australia responsible for law and justice, and since 29 May 2019, industrial relations.

The head of the department is the Secretary of the Attorney-General's Department, currently Chris Moraitis , who reports to the Attorney-General for Australia, currently The Hon. Christian Porter MP.


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.


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:
  • Australian Government Solicitor
  • Civil Justice and Corporate Services
  • Criminal Justice
  • National Security and Emergency Management

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

    Departmental Secretary

    The permanent secretary of the Attorney-General's Department is the non-political public service head of the department. This role dates from federation, and the first incumbent, Sir Robert Garran, was the first (and for a time the only) public servant employed by the federal government. In that role, he was responsible for overseeing the first federal election and setting up the rest of the federal bureaucracy by transferring state government functions to the federal government.

    From 1916, when the position of Solicitor-General of Australia was created as the second law officer and deputy of the Attorney-General, the permanent secretary served concurrently as Solicitor-General, until the two roles were separated in 1964. Under the Law Officers Act passed that year, the Solicitor-General's role was clarified as statutory counsel deputising for the Attorney-General, separate from the role of the permanent secretary.

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

    Mission and outcomes

    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 19 April 2018 details the following responsibilities to the Department:
  • Law and justice, including -
  • Administrative law
  • Alternative dispute resolution
  • Bankruptcy
  • Censorship
  • Constitutional law
  • Courts and tribunals
  • Human rights
  • International law
  • Law reform
  • Legal assistance
  • Legislative drafting
  • Marriage and family law
  • Personal property securities
  • Legal services to the Commonwealth
  • Administration of criminal justice, including -
  • Criminal law policy and principles of criminal responsibility
  • Matters relating to prosecution
  • Sentencing and management of federal offenders
  • Internal crime cooperation, including extradition and mutual assistance in criminal matters
  • Protective security policy
  • Administrative support for Royal Commissions and certain other inquiries
  • Privacy
  • Freedom of Information
  • Management of government records
  • Native title
  • Fraud and anti-corruption policy
  • Whole of government integrity policy and activities