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Organisation of the Council

The Principals

The Principals of the Council are the Parliamentary Leaders of the four main political parties in the Federal Parliament. The Principals are:

  • The Hon Scott Morrison MP, Prime Minister and Leader of the Liberal Party of Australia
  • The Hon Bill Shorten MP, Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Australian Labor Party
  • The Hon Michael McCormack MP, Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of The Nationals
  • Senator Richard Di Natale, Leader of the Australian Greens

Council Membership


The Hon Alan Ferguson The Hon Alan Ferguson
Chairman of the Australian Political Exchange Council 
(appointed March 2014)


Members (in order of appointment)

Senator Dean Smith

Senator Dean Smith
Deputy Government Whip in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia 
(Appointed November 2016)

Senator Bridget McKenzie

Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie
Deputy Leader of The Nationals
Minister for Regional Services
Minister for Sport
Minister for Local Government and Decentralisation
Senator for Victoria
(Appointed December 2016)

The Hon Michael Danby MP

The Hon Michael Danby MP
Member for Melbourne Ports
(Appointed January 2017)

Mr Noah Carroll

Mr Noah Carroll
National Secretary, Australian Labor Party
(Appointed January 2017)

Senator Janet Rice

Senator Janet Rice
Senator for Victoria
(Appointed February 2017)

Senator Andrew Hirst 

Mr Andrew Hirst
Federal Director, Liberal Party of Australia
(appointed June 2017)

Past Chairs and Council Members


The Minister with portfolio responsibility for the political exchange program is the Special Minister of State.

History of the Council

In 1981, a program for political exchanges was established by the then Prime Minister, the late Rt Hon Malcolm Fraser AC CH, with the support of the leaders of the major Parliamentary political parties, to arrange visits of young political leaders between Australia and other countries. An Interim Committee was created with the leaders of the major federal Parliamentary parties as its Principals.

With the agreement of the Principals, the Interim Committee became the Australian Political Exchange Committee in August 1983 and subsequently the Australian Political Exchange Council in September 1991.

The first exchange took place in June 1982 when a delegation from Australia, led by Mr James Porter MP (then Member for Barker) travelled to the United States of America. This was reciprocated in November 1982 when a delegation from the United States of America, led jointly by Mr T Ryan Jr (Republican) and Mr R Spencer (Democrat), travelled to Australia.

Since that time the Council has established a number of successful exchange programs and continues to explore further opportunities that may benefit Australia's next generation of political leaders.