Records of the Parliament
Official records are kept of everything that is said and done in the Australian Parliament. These records include Hansard, Journals of the Senate, and Votes and Proceedings. This fact sheet explores the function and history of these official records of Parliament.
Anyone can check the records of the Australian Parliament to see what is being said about a bill – proposed law – or issue and to find out about decisions made by Parliament. As well as informing people about its work, these records are an important way of keeping Parliament open and accountable.
Hansard is an edited transcript – written record – of what is said in the Senate, House of Representatives, Federation Chamber and committee hearings. Hansard records things such as members' speeches and witness statements made to committees. It also includes votes, the text of petitions, ministers' written statements and answers to questions. The transcript is edited to remove repetition and grammatical errors but not to change the meaning. Hansard is available online.
Journals of the Senate and Votes and Proceedings
Official records are also kept about the actions and decisions made by Parliament. In the Senate this record is called the Journals of the Senate and in the House of Representatives it is called Votes and Proceedings. Unlike Hansard, they record what is done rather than what is said by individual members of parliament. For example, they list the bills introduced and who introduced them, every vote held and how each member of parliament voted, as well as documents tabled in – presented to – the Parliament.
The Standing Orders – rules – of both the Senate and House of Representatives state that the Clerks must keep and publish these records. The Journals of the Senate and Votes and Proceedings are legal records that provide the most accurate information about the activities of Parliament.
Examples of Hansard; Journals of the Senate; House of Representatives Daily Program; and Senate Daily Summary.
This image shows the front cover of the following records of the Australian Parliament: Journals of the Senate, Hansard, House of Representatives Daily Program and Senate Daily Summary.