Role of the Chief Whip

Joanne is the Chief Government Whip in the Albanese Labor Government. 

The term 'whip' comes from the sport of fox-hunting in England. The whipper-in was the person who whipped all the hunting hounds into a pack, pointed them in the right direction to chase the fox and ensured that the pack did not stray. The use of the term 'whip' may date back as far as the seventeenth century in the British Parliament.

The Whip is a member of parliament who is chosen by their colleagues to be 'a team manager'. 

Each parliamentary party has whips who work in the Senate or the House of Representatives. The whip's role is so diverse and busy that the major parties have a chief whip and 2 deputy whips. They have several responsibilities, including:

  • meeting with the whips of opposing parties to plan the parliamentary day, set the agenda and sort out procedural details
  • organising a list of members who wish to speak on bills and other business and giving this to the Speaker of the House of Representatives
  • making sure that all party members attend and vote as a team in a division
  • counting and recording the votes in a division
  • providing advice and support for party members
  • ensuring that party decisions are carried out
  • negotiating 'pairs' from opposing parties, so that numbers between the government and opposition are kept in balance if members of parliament are absent.

In the House of Representatives, whips sit in the back row behind their party. The whips are given seats so they can see who is present and what is happening among party members.

Whips are quite visible as they move around speaking to colleagues, organising the business of the party and making decisions with opposing party whips, the Clerks, the President or the Speaker.

For more information on the role of the whip, head to the Parliamentary Education Office