Debates in the Senate are recorded and published in Parliamentary Debates, more commonly known as Hansard. A proof Daily Hansard is produced, in which errors of transcription may be corrected. Corrected Hansards are then incorporated in a paper bound Weekly Hansard and finally are bound in hard covers for the record. Hansard is also entered in a database for ease of access and electronic searching, and on the internet.
The publication of Hansard is authorised by standing order 43(3), and is therefore absolutely privileged.
Soon after they deliver a speech, senators receive a copy of the transcript from Hansard. Senators may make necessary corrections to the transcript, but changes altering the sense or introducing new matters are not admissible. The President has control over requests for alterations to Hansard. Following an incident in 1989 in which a minister was censured by the Senate for deleting words appearing in the Daily Hansard, the Senate resolved that the President should “enforce strictly the rule that senators’ corrections to Hansard must not have the effect of deleting from the record words actually spoken in debate so as to alter the sense of words spoken”. In a subsequent statement, the President informed the Senate of the procedures for dealing with requests for alterations to the transcript or to the Daily Hansard. The President had asked that “where there is any doubt as to whether the request comes within the established rules”, the matter be referred to him.
Although Hansard is a record of debate, to save time or to illustrate a point senators often ask to incorporate material in Hansard. This material may include quotations, documents, tables or graphs. As there is no provision in the standing orders for the incorporation of material in Hansard, this is done by leave of the Senate, that is, unanimous consent of senators present. Senators will generally ascertain of senators from other parties whether there is likely to be objection before seeking leave for incorporation.