"It's brutal." What happens in Parliament House the week after the election.


Technically right now we don’t have a prime minister.

Yes we voted to leave Scott Morrison in the top job, along with his Liberal National party over the weekend, but at the moment the government is still in caretaker mode.

“You can’t become prime minister until you’re asked to become prime minister by the Governor General,” Shadow liberal Victorian minister Tim Smith told the Quicky.

When we have a federal election the parliament is dissolved and there are a lot of things that have to happen behind the scenes once the new leader and party is chosen.

Inside an election, what you don’t see. Post continues after podcast.

“What people don’t realise is that all the advisers of the previous government lose their jobs if they lose the election,” Smith explains.

So on Friday hundreds of people went home from work unsure if they had a job to go to on Monday.

“Canberra is famous for a transition to government leak where you have secure bins out the back.

“So if it’s a shock result they go back to Canberra, clean out their office, shred any secret documents, they get a payout and then they are on their own. It’s brutal,” said Smith of what those hundreds of people would have been preparing themselves for.

For the prime minister the stakes are even higher, within a weekend he could lose not just his job, but a house for his family.

It’s become a tradition that the outgoing prime minister hands over the keys to his successor in an awkward photo shoot on the lawns of The Lodge.


We saw this happen in 2013 when Kevin Rudd handed over the reigns to Tony Abbott.

Of course that’s not happening this time around and Morrison’s family don’t have to evacuate.

However Scott Morrison will choose a new cabinet, and once again that leaves hundreds of staff members up in the air.

“An election is considered the end of their contract so everyone who was working for a minister has to reapply for their job this week,” said Smith.

But what if your minister’s portfolio changes in a cabinet reshuffle?

Your expertise might be in defence and suddenly your minister is in health. This could mean there’s no job for you to go to.

This election parliament house won’t have a huge restructure office wise, but if the result went the other way that’d be the other mammoth task this week.

If Bill Shorten's Labor won the election, there would have been a whole reshuffle of Parliament house. Image: Getty.

Inside parliament there are different wings. There's a ministerial wing where the government is, a house of representatives wing where the opposition is, and a senate wing.

But there's no switching of seating plans this year.

It'll take about a week for the new (old) government to be officially sworn in by the Governor General, and in the meantime, it's the secretaries of departments who keep the wheels of government in motion.

"People don't realise it takes months for a new government to settle in, swear in all the ministers, appoint all the staff, and then get all the little bits like stationery and letterheads sorted out. Democracy is expensive," Smith told The Quicky. "I can't imagine the paper and stationery bill."

We aren't changing a lot this time around, so hopefully it won't take so long for the government to 'settle in'.

Right now, we are waiting to see if Morrison and the Liberals will claim a majority government.

They need 76 seats to do that, and are on 75 with three seats undecided.

In the previous parliament the numbers were: Liberals 58, Nationals 16, Labor 69, Greens 1, Centre Alliance 1, Katter's Australian Party 1, and independents 4.