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 Anthony Albanese MP, Prime Minister and Leader of the Australian Labor Party
  • The Hon Peter Dutton MP, Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Liberal Party of Australia
  • The Hon David Littleproud MP, Leader of The Nationals
  • Mr Adam Bandt MP, Leader of the Australian Greens

The Patrons

  • Senator the Hon Sue Lines, President of the Senate
  • The Hon Milton Dick MP, Speaker of the House of Representatives

Council Membership


The Hon Dr Craig Emerson

The Hon Dr Craig Emerson
Chair of the Australian Political Exchange Council
(Appointed November 2022)

Members (in order of appointment)

Senator Andrew Hirst

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

The Hon Mark Coulton MP
Member for Parkes 
The Nationals
(Appointed September 2018)

Justine Elliot MP

The Hon Justine Elliot MP
Member for Richmond
(Appointed August 2019)

Mr Paul Erickson

Mr Paul Erickson
National Secretary
Australian Labor Party
(Appointed August 2019)

Senator Peter Whish-Wilson

Senator Peter Whish-Wilson
Senator for Tasmania
Australian Greens
(Appointed February 2021)

Senator Slade Brockman

Senator Slade Brockman
Senator for Western Australia
Liberal Party of Australia 
(Appointed August 2022)

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.