New-look Senate just the job for a person who likes a challenge

Parliament is looking for someone armed with a big stick to keep the new-look Senate under control.

New and disparate faces will pack the upper house from July including car-loving, kangaroo-poo-throwing Ricky Muir, former rugby league front-rower turned Palmer United prop Glenn Lazarus, and Liberal-Democrat David Leyonhjelm, who agrees mistaken identity probably played a part in his ascension to the red chamber.

But at least the person overseeing them will carry a 1.3 metre weapon, even if it is only ceremonial.

The job of Usher of the Black Rod is up for grabs for the 18th time since federation.

It is Bronwyn Notzon's at the moment. She is only the second woman to have held the position in the Australian parliament after Andrea Griffiths made history as the first female usher in 2001.

The usher turfs misbehaving Senators, marks them off the roll on sitting days and arranges for the removal of anybody causing trouble in the Senate, its committees or galleries.


The advertisement describes a ''challenging opportunity'' for someone with high-level parliamentary or government experience, legal and procedural knowledge and exceptional liaison skills.

The new usher, who has not carried a sword since 1996 but still has the rod, will be classified as a band one senior executive.

Beginner senior executives often have salary packages exceeding $200,000 while their base median salary is more than $170,000, according to recent Public Service Commission reports.

The usher's role dates back to the 14th century in Britain.

Historically the rod could be used when arresting or expelling anyone who offended the Most Noble Order of the Garter but is now entirely symbolic.

A modern feature of the usher's security work is to provide advice to the President of the Senate on managing demonstrations and the physical security of the building, according to parliament's website.

A central figure at openings of parliament, the usher announces the arrival of the Governor-General and escorts the Governor-General and the official party into the Senate chamber.

The Governor-General then directs the Usher of the Black Rod to request the members of the House of Representatives to attend the Senate chamber.

On a normal sitting day the usher announces the arrival of the president into the chamber and ensures the safe delivery of messages from the Senate chamber to the House of Representatives.