Use the correct term and follow the rules for capitalising government terms. People find it easier to understand content that has a consistent style.
Use initial capitals for formal names and titles
Use initial capitals only for the formal names and titles of government entities and office holders. Use lower case for generic references.
These are rules for general content. There might be exceptions if you are writing specialist legal content using terms defined in legislation.
This page orders guidance for common government terms alphabetically.
Refer to the national government of Australia as the ‘Australian Government’. Use an initial capital for both words only when they occur together.
Australian Government coordinates emergency management with the states.
Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources
In general content, use lower case for the ‘bench’ and ‘full bench’.
She was elevated to the
The High Court hears cases that require a
Use an initial capital for ‘the Budget’ to show the difference from the generic reference.
People on lower incomes will receive tax relief in this year’s
Just like the federal
Budget was deferred in 2020, so too were state budgets.
Use lower case for ‘budget’ when it is used as an adjective or as a plural.
- successive federal
Always use an initial capital for ‘the Cabinet’ to show the difference from its generic reference.
It was a decision by the
‘The Commonwealth of Australia’ is the name of Australia in the Constitution. Use an initial capital for ‘Commonwealth’.
Do not use the phrase ‘Commonwealth government’ to mean ‘Australian Government’.
- Defence is an
Australian Governmentresponsibility under the Constitution.
Commonwealthmarine area is any part of the sea between 3 and 200 nautical miles from the coast.
- Defence is a
Commonwealth governmentresponsibility under the Constitution.
Always use an initial capital for ‘the Crown’ to show the difference from its generic reference.
The Governor-General is appointed by the
Departments and agencies
Use initial capital letters only for the formal names of government departments and agencies. Check the names of departments and agencies in the government online directory.
Don’t use capital letters for generic mentions. For example, use:
- ‘the agency’ instead of ‘the Agency’
- ‘the authority’ instead of ‘the Authority’
- ‘the commission’ instead of ‘the Commission’
- ‘the department’ instead of ‘the Department’.
Use a shortened form of the name only if the department or agency uses it regularly in their own content.
If you cite a source written by an organisation that has since changed its name, use the name published in the source. This might not be the organisation’s current name.
Department of Finance owns the policy. The
department has been working on it for months.
Department of Finance owns the policy. The
Department has been working on it for months.
Always use an initial capital for ‘the Treasury’ to show the difference from its generic reference.
Treasury conducts itself to the highest standards.
Use initial capitals for the formal names of areas in a department or agency's organisational structure. Don't use initial capitals for generic mentions of parts of the formal names.
Budget Policy Division is part of
s Fiscal Group. The
division coordinates the delivery of the Budget and other fiscal reports.
Use an initial capital letter for ‘federal’ when it forms part of a formal name. Don’t capitalise it when it is used as an adjective.
Federal Court of Australia
Use an initial capital for the word ‘federation’ only when referring to Australia’s Federation in 1901.
The design of Australia’s national flag is the result of a competition announced to coincide with
Federation in 1901.
The type of architecture popular between 1890 and 1915 is known as
Federation style architecture.
Use an initial capital for the word ‘government’ if it is part of a formal name. Use lower case everywhere else.
- the Australian and New Zealand
governmentsof South Australia and Tasmania
- Road maintenance is a local
Government programs and agreements
Use initial capitals for the full names of:
- government programs
- protocols and similar agreements.
Use initial capitals for abbreviations that remain specific but not for generic references or abbreviations.
Greater Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative
Artesian Basin Initiative
Heads of state and prime ministers
Use initial capitals for the formal and abbreviated titles of current heads of state.
Prime Minister announced the new initiative this morning.
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom chairs Cabinet meetings.
Sultan of Oman comes from a dynasty of rulers. The
Sultan met with the
Prime Minister last week.
You do not need to use capitals for generic references to the position or when referring to previous incumbents.
Sir Edmund Barton was the first
prime minister of Australia.
Justin Trudeau is the eldest son of former Canadian
prime minister Pierre Trudeau.
Use government sources to check the titles of legislation, especially:
Use initial capitals for these terms when referring to specific legislation:
Use lower case for generic references to bills, regulations and ordinances. Use initial capitals for all references to Acts.
Act separated legal ties between the 2 entities. [A short-hand reference to an Act]
bills were rejected for the second time. [A generic reference to a set of bills]
Ministers and departmental secretaries
Use initial capitals for the official titles of ministers and departmental secretaries. Use lower case for generic references.
Minister for Education announced the new policy. Education groups met with the
minister to present their views.
Secretary of the Department of Social Services gave the opening address. Several
secretaries attended the forum.
The Minister for Education announced the new policy. Education groups met with the
Minister to present their views.
The Secretary of the Department of Social Services gave the opening address. Several
Secretaries attended the forum.
Apply this rule to the titles of other government office holders and department officials.
Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister.
Assistant ministersare designated as
parliamentary secretariesunder the Ministers of State Act 1952.
Deputy Secretary of Policy and Programswas one of 5
deputy secretariesto attend the interdepartmental committee meeting.
- She will take on the role of
first assistant secretaryresponsible for overseeing engagement with external stakeholders.
Always use ‘for’ (not ‘of’) for a minister’s portfolio.
Generally, use ‘of’ for anyone working at a department or agency.
- the Minister
ofthe Department of Health.
- the Minister
forthe Department of Health
Principals of Australian institutions
In many cases, you need to use initial capitals for the official titles of the principals and chief executives of Australian institutions. Check a dictionary or reliable reference if you are unsure of the correct title and format.
Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia
President of the University of Queensland
Secretary of the Department of Social Services
President of the University of Queensland
Premier of New South Wales
Chief Minister of the Northern Territory
Use lower case for most of these titles in general references that do not refer to a specific person.
- The average salaries of
vice-chancellorshave reached a new high.
attorneys-generalmet to discuss the issue last week.
premiersof New South Wales and Victoria met to discuss health reforms.
States and territories
To refer to an Australian state or territory:
- Use initial capitals for words in the formal name.
- Use lower case for generic or plural references.
Australian Capital Territoryhas a land border length of 306 kilometres. The
territory’stotal area is more than 2,000 square kilometres.
South Australian Governmentstarted the project. The
governmentwill meet regularly to review progress.
territoriesare responsible for health care and education.
Few situations will require you to use the shortened form for a state or territory.
‘Territory’ is an exception when used for the Northern Territory
‘Territory’ is a semi-official term for the Northern Territory. Use a capital ‘T’ when using ‘Territory’ instead of the full name for the Northern Territory. Use lower case for generic references.
Northern Territory road toll is a concern to the
territory. [Initial capitals for the full name; lower case for a generic reference]
Territory is a common destination for overseas tourists. [The semi-official term instead of the full name]
Use initial capitals for formal names connected with parliament. Generic references are in lower case.
- The problem was raised in the
- There was a change to
Use initial capitals for the formal titles of parliamentary office holders. These include:
- Clerk of the House
- Clerk of the Senate
- Leader of the Government in the Senate
- Manager of Opposition Business
- President of the Senate
- Speaker of the House
- Usher of the Black Rod.
Senator Lines is the
Deputy President and Chair of Committees in the 46th Parliament.
Use initial capitals for the formal titles of current members of parliament.
- Mr Adam Bandt MP
- Senator Pauline Hanson
- They met with Senator Griff.
Use lower case for parliamentary terms that are not formal titles. These words include:
- member of parliament; members of parliament
- senator; senators
- member; members
- frontbench; frontbencher
- backbench; backbencher
- crossbench; crossbencher.
She moved from the
backbench to take the new ministerial portfolio.
He was a former
senator for Tasmania, serving from 1947 to 1951.
The houses of the Australian, state and territory parliaments
Always use initial capital letters to refer to:
- the Senate
- the House of Representatives
- the corresponding bodies in the states and territories.
Senate referred the matter to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee.
Legislative Assembly will vote on the matter tomorrow. The
Assembly has been debating the matter for months.
The Senate and the House of Representatives are the ‘houses of parliament’, in lower case.
Use ‘the House’, ‘this House’, ‘lower house’ or ‘people’s house’ to refer to the House of Representatives.
Use ‘this house’, ‘upper house’, ‘house of review’ or ‘states’ house’ to refer to the Senate.
The digital edition consolidates the advice from the sixth edition and provides updated examples.
The capitalisation of ‘house’ used in the parliamentary context has changed. Style in the digital edition is consistent with Hansard style for the Australian Parliament.
The digital edition prefers ‘Cth’ over ‘Cwlth’ as the contraction for ‘Commonwealth’. This reflects a departure from the sixth edition based on a corpus check with the Australian National Dictionary Centre.
The Content Guide had brief advice on government names, consistent with the sixth edition.
About this page
Parliament of Australia (2020) Hansard style guide [internal style guide, version 8.1], Department of Parliamentary Services, Canberra.
APSC (Australian Public Service Commission) (2020) APS agency listing: agencies covered by the Public Service Act 1999, APSC website, accessed 14 June 2020.
Australian Government (2020) Directory, Australian Government Directory website, accessed 14 June 2020.
Office of the Legislative Assembly (2017) Hansard style manual, Legislative Assembly for the Australian Capital Territory accessed 14 June 2020.
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (2020) Parliamentary information, PM&C website, accessed 14 June 2020.
This page was updated Wednesday 24 March 2021.