The primary task of Reporting Services is to provide a clear and independent record of all the proceedings of the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly.
Reporting Services publishes Hansard, the official record of parliamentary debates.
We also report and provide transcripts of evidence given to select and standing committees of the Parliament, both in-house and throughout the state.
Reporting Services provides television and audio services for the Parliament. The proceedings of the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly are televised in-house and streamed on POWAnet, the intranet, and the internet.
Approximately 30 staff are involved in reporting and disseminating the parliamentary debates.
The history of parliamentary debates is similar to the description given of the history of a newspaper. The first day it is read with eagerness, the next day it is thrown away; after the lapse of some years it is worth its weight in gold. The ancient volumes of Hansard, imperfect as they are, are often intensely interesting reading for the light they throw on dead statesmen, or past conditions of society, legislation and controversies.
Lord Cadogan, Lord Privy Seal, in a draft report submitted to the Joint Committee of the British Parliament on
Debates and Proceedings in Parliament. Lords Sessional Papers, XV, 1988.
Official reporting of parliamentary proceedings began in the British Parliament in 1803 when the press were allocated seats in the public gallery of the House of Commons. The reports were published in William Cobbett’s Parliamentary Debates. Luke Hansard was the British Government’s printer at that time. Luke’s son, Thomas Curson Hansard, in 1811 purchased Cobbett’s interest in the publication of parliamentary debates, and in 1829 he decided that the title page should bear his name. Since then the Official Report of the House of Commons has usually been known as Hansard, and the name has been adopted for the official reports of a number of legislatures throughout the commonwealth.
Since 1896, Hansard reporters have been providing clear and independent reports of the debates of the Parliament of Western Australia.
In 1996, public access to parliamentary debates was increased when in-house broadcasting of the chambers began, and the broadcast of parliamentary debates is now streamed to the internet.
Hansard is not a verbatim transcript; rather, it is a full report in the first person. The member’s words are used. However, obvious mistakes are corrected and redundancies and needless repetition are removed. Clarity is provided; ambiguity and elegant variation are avoided. Nothing is omitted from the transcript that adds to the meaning of the speech or illustrates the arguments advanced, and nor are words altered unless they are incorrectly used.
(Erskine May’s Parliamentary Practice).
Hansard reporters sit at the end of the table of the House to take their report. Each reporter spends 10 minutes in the chamber recording the debates, and then has about an hour to transcribe and edit that portion of the debates. About seven or eight reporters are rostered on to each chamber.
A variety of methods are used to record the debates. Most reporters use a Stenograph machine to write shorthand, which is translated instantaneously into conventional written English (computer-aided transcription). Some reporters use Pitman’s shorthand and dictate their shorthand using voice recognition technology; and others transcribe turns directly from audio using voice recognition technology. Shorthand reporters are capable of writing between 180 and 200 words a minute.
The debates are edited to conform to Reporting Services’ editing guidelines, which are based on the brief provided in Erskine May’s Parliamentary Practice.
Subeditors review the reporters’ copy of debates, and are responsible for ensuring consistency and making decisions on style. Subeditors are also responsible for preparing the daily and weekly Hansard for publication.
The senior word processor operator/indexer compiles the questions on notice and paginates the weekly Hansard for printing. She also compiles the index of speeches and subjects, which is published in March each year.
Committees are reported in a variety of ways, depending on their location and the resources available at the time. Committee hearings held in Perth are generally covered by reporters working on a 10-minute rotation. However, if a number of committee meetings are being held at the same time, one or two shorthand reporters may cover a hearing for up to two hours. Committees held outside Perth are generally reported using digital audio recorders, and are transcribed at a later date.
Transcripts of evidence given to parliamentary committees can be found on the Committees page.
The AV Control Room is responsible for ensuring a broadcast-quality recording of the debates in each chamber that is reticulated around the building through the CCTV system, to ministerial offices and to the internet.
A full-time audio visual operator/supervisor coordinates four casual audio visual operators. All operators have experience in broadcasting.
All proceedings have been recorded and archived since May 2003. Recordings of recent sitting days can be found on the Parliament’s website.
Audio visual operators also assist with AV requirements for parliamentary functions and chamber events.
Hansard is published by the State Law Publisher in daily proof and weekly editions, and in bound volumes at the end of each year. A cumulative index is published in a separate volume. The bound volumes are the official and permanent record of parliamentary debates, and they incorporate corrections made after the publication of the weekly Hansard.
Uncorrected Hansard (the proof version) is available on the Parliament’s website about three hours after the house rises. This version is placed on the internet for public information only, and may not be quoted. At this point, the transcript is still undergoing an exhaustive checking and correcting process.
The final, corrected Hansard is available on the Parliament’s website progressively from the Friday of the sitting week. The corrected Hansard incorporates corrections made to the proof version.