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Australian Legislation

Parliamentary Debates

The transcripts of parliamentary proceedings are known as Parliamentary Debates or Hansard. 

Hansard is important as it contains the second reading debate (or second reading speech) of a bill and provides an insight into the workings of Parliament.

The second reading debate is the discussion of the motion moved by the Minister and is usually the most substantial debate that takes place on a bill. Its purpose is to consider the principles of the bill. Debate may cover, reasons why the bill should be supported or opposed, the necessity for its proposals, or alternative means of achieving the same objectives. The second reading speech is often used in legal research to understand the motivation or purpose of a bill and is useful as a tool in statutory interpretation.

Publication Stage

Daily Hansard, which is a proof version, is available on the internet 4 hours after the house adjourns for the day and in hard copy by 8.30am the next day. Daily Hansard is a draft proof and is marked as such on each page. Daily Hansard must not be quoted as it is subject to alteration. Once the revised book becomes available, Daily Hansard ceases to exist.

Weekly Hansard, (which comprises the revised daily Hansard for the week), is available on the internet three working days after the end of the sitting week and in hard copy approximately one week afterwards. The books are later incorporated into bound sessional volumes. Refer to the relevant jurisdiction in this guide for links to Parliamentary Debates.

Votes and Proceedings of the House of Representatives/Journals of the Senate

Tools to help students gain an understanding on the proceedings of what was debated and voted on in a particular parliamentary sitting are the Votes and Proceedings of the House of Representatives and Journals of the Senate.  The Votes and Proceedings are the official record of the proceedings of the House of Representatives. This record contains the proceedings and decisions of the House and the Main Committee; and the attendance of Members in the House, including any leave.

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