Government and parliament

Refer to members of Australian parliaments and councils in the correct style. Follow these rules to address and title people correctly.

Capitalise the titles of the current prime minister and treasurer

Capitalise the titles of the current holders of the positions of:

  • Prime Minister
  • Treasurer.

Do this even when the titles are abbreviated.

If referencing prime ministers or treasurers generically, use lower case.

Example

  • The Prime Minister announced the new initiative this morning.
  • The PM announced the new initiative this morning. [Less formal]
  • Terms of office vary for prime ministers around the world. [Generic]
  • The Treasurer will present the mid-year report tomorrow.
  • In many countries treasurers are preparing responses to this latest development. [Generic]

Use lower case letters for former prime ministers and treasurers of Australia.

Example

  • Alfred Deakin served 3 terms as prime minister of Australia.
  • Australia’s first female prime minister was Julia Gillard, who took office in 2010.
  • Peter Costello remains the longest-serving treasurer in Australian history.

Capitalise titles for current senators and members of the Australian Parliament

The Parliament of Australia website has instructions for how to address senators and members.

Write these titles as follows:

  • the Prime Minister
  • the President of the Senate
  • the Speaker of the House of Representatives
  • ministers (Senate)
  • ministers (House of Representatives)
  • assistant ministers (Senate)
  • assistant ministers (House of Representatives)
  • senators
  • members (House of Representatives).

People elected to the upper house take the title ‘Senator’ before their given name.

Example

  • Senator Claire Chandler

Members of the House of Representatives take the initialism ‘MP’ after their name. Write it after any other post-nominals. Don’t use commas before or between post-nominals.

Example

  • Ms Zali Steggall OAM MP

Address certain office holders of the Australian Parliament as ‘Honourable’

Use the title ‘Honourable’ for ministers (including the prime minister) and parliamentary secretaries in the Australian Parliament. The title is given to these office holders because they are members of the Federal Executive Council. They retain the title for life.

The abbreviation for ‘Honourable’ is ‘Hon’ without a full stop.

Example

  • The Hon Alex Hawke MP, Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs [Serving minister]
  • The Hon Warren Snowdon MP [Serving MP and former minister]
  • The Hon Dr Andrew Leigh MP [Serving MP and former parliamentary secretary]

Use the title ‘Senator’ before ‘the Honourable’ if the minister or parliamentary secretary is a member of the Senate.

Example

  • Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, Minister for Finance

The presiding officers and former office holders of state parliaments

The President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives (the presiding officers) use the title ‘Honourable’.

‘Honourable’ is also given to members of the Australian Parliament who are:

  • former members of state ministries
  • former presiding officers of state parliaments.

Example

  • Senator the Hon Scott Ryan, President of the Senate
  • The Hon Tony Smith MP, Speaker of the House of Representatives
  • Senator the Hon Kristina Keneally [Former premier of NSW]

In formal emails and letters to a minister:

  • Open with ‘Dear Minister’.
  • Conclude with ‘Yours faithfully’.

In less formal correspondence:

  • Open with ‘My dear Minister’.
  • Conclude with ‘Yours sincerely’.

Use the appropriate form for members of state and territory parliaments

In formal emails and letters, address members of state and territory parliaments with the relevant post-nominal after their name.

Number of chambers in state and territory parliaments

The parliaments of all states except Qld are ‘bicameral’. This means parliament has 2 chambers or houses:

  • the Legislative Council – also called the ‘upper house’
  • the Legislative Assembly (NSW, Vic and WA) or House of Assembly (SA and Tas) – also called the ‘lower house’.

The parliaments of Qld, the ACT and the NT are ‘unicameral’. This means parliament has one chamber or house the Legislative Assembly.

Use the correct post-nominal

Members of state and territory parliaments use the post-nominal:

  • MLC (Member of the Legislative Council)
  • MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly)
  • MP (Member of the Legislative Assembly or Member of the House of Assembly).

All bicameral parliaments use the post-nominal 'MLC' for members of their upper houses.

The choice of 'MLA' or 'MP' for members of state and territory parliaments is less clear-cut.

Follow these rules to use the correct post-nominal.

Use MLC for members of the Legislative Council of:

  • NSW
  • SA
  • Tas
  • Vic
  • WA.

Use MLA for members of the Legislative Assembly of:

  • ACT
  • NT
  • WA.

Use MP for members of the Legislative Assembly of:

  • NSW
  • Qld
  • Vic.

Use MP for members of the House of Assembly of:

  • SA
  • Tas.

Example

  • The Hon Nicolas Pierre Goiran MLC
  • Ms Tara Cheyne MLA
  • Mr Danny O'Brien MP
  • Dr Amy MacMahon MP 

A parliamentarian may have other post-nominals after their name. These can include:

  • civilian and military honours
  • educational and professional qualifications.

If so, write these in the same way the parliamentarian does. If you’re unsure, check with the parliamentarian’s office.

Emails and letters to members of a state or territory parliament

In formal correspondence with a member of a state or territory parliament:

  • Open with ‘Dear Ms’ (or ‘Mr’, ‘Mrs’, ‘Mx’, ‘Dr’ and so on).
  • Conclude with ‘Yours faithfully’.

In less formal correspondence:

  • Open with ‘Dear Mr’ (or ‘Ms’, ‘Mrs’, ‘Mx’, ‘Dr’ and so on).
  • Conclude with ‘Yours sincerely’.

Address certain office holders in state and NT parliaments as ‘Honourable’

Use ‘Honourable’ when addressing all members of the executive councils of the states and the NT:

  • premiers and ministers in all states
  • chief minister and ministers in the NT
  • former ministers in all states and the NT.

Use ‘Honourable’ when addressing these parliamentarians:

  • members of all state legislative councils except in Vic
  • Leader of the Opposition in Tas
  • presidents of all legislative councils
  • speakers of all parliaments except in the ACT.

Example

  • NSW: The Hon Matthew Mason-Cox MLC, President of the Legislative Council
  • NT: The Hon Ngaree Ah Kit MLA, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly
  • Qld: The Hon Scott Stewart MP, Minister for Resources [Serving minister]
  • SA: The Hon Jing Shyuan Lee MLC [Member of the Legislative Council]
  • Tas: The Hon Anita Dow MP, Acting Leader of the Opposition
  • Vic: The Hon Daniel Andrews MP, Premier of Victoria
  • WA: The Hon Jacqui Boydell MLC [Member of the Legislative Council]

Office holders in the ACT Legislative Assembly don’t use the title ‘Honourable’. Ministers in the ACT have more than one portfolio. Address emails and letters to them using the ministerial title appropriate to the topic.

Example

  • Ms Joy Burch MLA, Speaker of the ACT Legislative Assembly
  • Ms Rachel Stephen-Smith MLA, Minister for Health
  • Ms Rachel Stephen-Smith MLA, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs
  • Ms Rachel Stephen-Smith MLA,  Minister for Families and Community Services

Address state premiers correctly

Address state premiers as ‘The Hon [given and family names] MLA, Premier of …’

Check the premier’s website to see whether they include other post-nominals in their title, such as academic or professional qualifications.

Example

  • The Hon Mark McGowan BA LLB MLA, Premier of Western Australia

In formal emails and letters with a premier:

  • Open with ‘Dear Premier’.
  • Conclude with ‘Yours faithfully’.

In less formal correspondence:

  • Open with ‘My dear Premier’.
  • Conclude with ‘Yours sincerely’.

Address the chief minister of the NT correctly

Address the chief minister of the NT with details in this order:

  1. ‘The Hon’
  2. their given and family names
  3. ‘MLA, Chief Minister of the Northern Territory’.

Example

  • The Hon Michael Gunner MLA, Chief Minister of the Northern Territory

In formal emails and letters with the chief minister:

  • Open with ‘Dear Chief Minister’.
  • Conclude with ‘Yours faithfully’.

In less formal correspondence:

  • Open with ‘Dear Chief Minister’.
  • Conclude with ‘Yours sincerely’.

Address the chief minister of the ACT with their preferred title

Address the chief minister of the ACT with details in this order:

  1. the appropriate title (‘Dr’, ‘Mr’, ‘Ms’, ‘Mx’ and so on)
  2. their given and family names
  3. ‘MLA, Chief Minister of the ACT’.

Example

  • Mr Andrew Barr MLA, Chief Minister of the ACT

In formal emails and letters with the chief minister:

  • Open with ‘Dear Chief Minister’.
  • Conclude with ‘Yours faithfully’.

In less formal correspondence:

  • Open with ‘Dear Chief Minister’.
  • Conclude with ‘Yours sincerely’.

Address mayors and members of local governments with the correct title

Address members of local governments in urban and regional areas differently.

Check the current title of a mayor or local government member to ensure accuracy. Check with the mayor’s or member’s office if you’re unsure.

Mayors of state capital cities

Use the title ‘The Right Honourable the Lord Mayor of [the name of the city]’ for lord mayors of:

  • Adelaide
  • Brisbane
  • Hobart
  • Melbourne
  • Perth
  • Sydney.

In emails and letters, you can use either the full form ‘Right Honourable’ or its shortened form ‘Rt Hon’ (without full stops).

Add ‘Councillor’ before the names of the lord mayors of Brisbane, Hobart, Melbourne and Sydney.

Put a comma after the name of the city.

Example

  • The Right Honourable the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Councillor Adrian Schrinner
  • The Rt Hon the Lord Mayor of Hobart, Councillor Anna M Reynolds
  • The Right Honourable the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Councillor Sally Capp
  • The Rt Hon the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Councillor Clover Moore

Use the honorific ‘Ms’, ‘Mr’, ‘Mx’, ‘Mrs’ or ‘Dr’ with the names of the lord mayors of Adelaide and Perth.

Example

  • The Rt Hon the Lord Mayor of Adelaide, Ms Sandy Verschoor

Address the lord mayor of Darwin as ‘The Right Worshipful the Lord Mayor of Darwin’.

Example

  • The Right Worshipful the Lord Mayor of Darwin, the Hon Kon Vatskalis

In emails and letters to a lord mayor:

  • Open with ‘Dear Lord Mayor’.
  • Conclude with ‘Yours faithfully’.

Mayors outside capital cities

Address the mayors of Geelong, Newcastle and Wollongong as ‘The Right Worshipful the [Lord] Mayor of [name of the city]’.

Example

  • The Right Worshipful the Mayor of Geelong, Ms Stephanie Asher
  • The Right Worshipful the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Ms Nuatali Nelmes
  • The Right Worshipful the Lord Mayor of Wollongong, Rev Gordon Bradbery

Address mayors of other cities as ‘His’ or ‘Her Worship the Mayor of [name of city]’.

Example

  • His Worship the Mayor of Fremantle, Dr Brad Pettitt

In correspondence:

  • Open with ‘Dear Mayor’ (or ‘Dear Lord Mayor’ if applicable).
  • Conclude with ‘Yours faithfully’.

Shire presidents, aldermen and councillors

Address a shire president as ‘President [family name]’. The abbreviation for ‘President’ is ‘Pres’ without a full stop, but use the full title ‘President’ because it’s clearer.

Example

  • President Smith

Address an alderman (regardless of gender) as ‘Alderman [family name]’. The abbreviation for ‘Alderman’ is ‘Ald’ without a full stop.

Example

  • Alderman Miller
  • Ald Miller

Address a councillor as ‘Councillor [family name]’. The abbreviation for ‘Councillor’ is ‘Cr’ without a full stop.

Example

  • Councillor Brown
  • Cr Brown

In formal emails and letters:

  • Open with ‘Dear President’, ‘Dear Alderman’ or ‘Dear Councillor’ as appropriate.
  • Conclude with ‘Yours faithfully’.

In less formal correspondence:

  • Open with ‘Dear President’, ‘Dear Alderman’ or ‘Dear Councillor [family name]’.
  • Conclude with ‘Yours sincerely’.

Release notes

The digital edition consolidates information in the sixth edition and provides updated examples.

The digital edition removes the sixth edition’s requirement to use full stops with the abbreviation of ‘The Honourable’ to ‘The Hon’.

This change is supported by evidence from Australian corpora and is consistent with the digital edition’s recommendation to use minimal punctuation.

For the same reason, digital edition examples do not follow the sixth edition’s requirement for a comma before and between post-nominals.

The Content Guide has brief information about titles for members of federal, state, territory and local governments.

About this page

References

ACT Legislative Assembly (n.d.) Members, ACT Legislative Assembly website, accessed 8 June 2020.

Brisbane City Council (n.d.) (2020) Councillors and wards, Brisbane City Council website, accessed 8 June 2020.

Chief Minister of the Northern Territory (n.d.) Ministry, Chief Minister of the Northern Territory website, accessed 8 June 2020.

City of Adelaide (2020) Your council, City of Adelaide website, accessed 8 June 2020.

City of Darwin (2020) Lord mayor & aldermen, City of Darwin website, accessed 8 June 2020.

City of Fremantle (2020) Your council, City of Fremantle website, accessed 8 June 2020.

City of Greater Geelong (n.d.) Mayor and councillors, City of Greater Geelong website, accessed 8 June 2020.

City of Hobart (2020) Current elected members, City of Hobart website, accessed 8 June 2020.

City of Melbourne (2020) Lord mayor and councillors, City of Melbourne website, accessed 8 June 2020.

City of Newcastle (n.d.) Councillors, City of Newcastle website, accessed 8 June 2020.

City of Perth (n.d.) Council, City of Perth website, accessed 8 June 2020.

City of Sydney (n.d.) Councillors, City of Sydney website, accessed 8 June 2020.

Council of Australian Governments (n.d.) COAG members, Council of Australian Governments website, accessed 25 March 2020.

Government of South Australia Department of the Premier and Cabinet (n.d.) Guide to titles and forms of address [PDF 304.6KB], SA Department of Premier and Cabinet website, accessed 8 June 2020.

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory (n.d.) Members, Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory website, accessed 28 March 2020.

NSW Government Premier and Cabinet (2020) Protocol: the table of precedence NSW, NSW Government Premier and Cabinet website, accessed 8 June 2020.

Parliament of Australia (2020) Hansard style guide [internal style guide], version 8.1, Department of Parliamentary Services, Canberra.

Parliament of Australia (n.d.) How to address senators and members, Parliament of Australia website, accessed 8 June 2020.

Parliament of Australia (n.d.) Senators and members, Parliament of Australia website, accessed 8 June 2020.

Parliament of New South Wales (n.d.) Parliament of New South Wales [homepage], Parliament of New South Wales website, accessed 8 June 2020.

Parliament of Tasmania (n.d.) Parliament of Tasmania [homepage], Parliament of Tasmania website, accessed 28 March 2020.

Parliament of Victoria (n.d.) Parliament of Victoria [homepage], Parliament of Victoria website, accessed 8 June 2020.

Parliament of Western Australia (n.d.) Current members, Parliament of Western Australia website, accessed 8 June 2020.

Parliament South Australia (n.d.) Members home, Parliament South Australia website, accessed 8 June 2020.

Queensland Government Department of the Premier and Cabinet (2020) Protocol handbook: a guide for Queensland government officers, Department of the Premier and Cabinet website, accessed 28 January 2020.

Queensland Parliament (n.d.) Members, Queensland Parliament website, accessed 8 June 2020.

Vic.gov.au (n.d.) How to address royalty and officials, Vic.gov.au website, accessed 8 June 2020.

WA.gov.au (2019) A Western Australian Government guide to titles and forms of address, WA.gov.au website, accessed 8 June 2020.

Wollongong City Council (2020) Your council officials, Wollongong City Council, accessed 8 June 2020.

This page was updated Thursday 2 September 2021.

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