Printing standards for documents presented to Parliament are prepared by the Committee and ensure that documents included in the PPS conform to the series’ requirements.
The current Standards were last reviewed 10 years ago in 2007. In the years since the last review a number of developments have occurred which make further review of the Standards necessary. The key developments are:
from 2013, the availability of the PPS in electronic form;
in 2015, an independent Review of Whole-of-Government Internal Regulation (the Belcher Red Tape Review) was commissioned and made certain recommendations in response to a perceived burgeoning of regulation within the Commonwealth public sector;
the 2016 PPS being the last series available in hard copy; and
a continued growing community expectation for “government departments and agencies to use digital channels to provide information and communicate with citizenry”.
Biotext Pty Ltd suggested that, despite a reduction in numbers of each document required to be printed, the current standards impose significant restrictions and costs on parliamentary and government departments in relation to printed documents required to be provided to Parliament. The standards do not apply to documents presented electronically, and do not allow for the efficiencies and benefits of digital and online systems to be fully realised.
Most submissions received argued that the current printing standards should be relaxed in various aspects. Many submissions, however, maintained that there was still a requirement to maintain a minimum set of standards.
The Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS) noted that
[n]otwithstanding the transition to an…[electronic Parliamentary Paper Series (ePPS)], physical documents continue to be tabled in Parliament. Until the Houses elect to move to a wholly electronic process for tabled papers, minimum printing standards should be maintained, including the use of archival quality paper and binding, to enable the long term storage and preservation of these parliamentary records.
Although a growing emphasis has centred on electronic copies of documents; the importance of printed, hardcopy documents cannot be disregarded as the printed format is:
certified, recorded and archived as the official minutes of the House of Representatives (Votes and Proceedings) and the Senate (Journals of the Senate); and
still very important to facilitate the work of Senators and Members.
Therefore, the Standards set need to ensure the longevity and useability of documents presented to Parliament.
Thus while House of Representatives standing order 2 defines a document as a paper or any record of information, including:
anything on which there is writing, marks, figures, symbols or perforations having a meaning for persons qualified to interpret them;
anything from which sounds, images or writings can be reproduced with or without aids;
maps, plans, drawings or photographs,
House of Representatives Practice requires that only printed documents can be included in the PPS.
The following paragraphs review each of the Standards (as set in January 2008) and make a comment/observation on each of them. The standards are listed at Appendix C and the revised standards, effective from 1 January 2018 are listed at Appendix D.
Printing standards for documents presented to Parliament
Any document presented to Parliament may be included in the Parliamentary Papers Series (PPS). Adherence to these standards ensures that a tabled document conforms to the series’ standards, with minimal additional cost to author bodies.
All documents are required to meet a minimal standard and thus the Committee has no intention of changing this standard.
Production quality and value for money
Commonwealth Government agencies are expected to obtain value for money in procuring services to publish and print documents. Those responsible for the preparation of parliamentary documents should be aware that excessive or unnecessarily expensive production has, in the past, attracted criticism.
The parliamentary staff listed in the advice section of this document will provide advice on the PPS.
Value for money may be realised for author bodies by printing documents in-house wherever possible rather than procuring the services of an external print-provider. Removing the B5-paper size requirement and allowing documents to be presented to Parliament in the widely-used A4 size will assist author bodies to produce and print their documents internally. The reduced number of printed copies required will also assist author bodies in achieving value for money. This will facilitate in-house printing.
Author bodies are encouraged to print their documents in-house, however, the production quality of documents printed in-house must conform to minimum standards of archival quality and be useable for Members and Senators.
Colour and illustrations
Government policy encourages restraint in the presentation quality of documents, and, while restraint does not necessarily preclude colour printing, it has implications for the way in which colour is used.
Report covers may be printed in full colour.
Line drawings, graphs, charts, photographs and other illustrations may be included, provided that they add value to the understanding of subjects discussed in the text.
Black ink is to be used for text and illustrations, however additional colours may be used if essential for the proper understanding of information such as complex maps or diagrams. For most documents, however, black ink plus one additional colour is sufficient for text.
Whilst not encouraged, more than two colours may be used if this does not significantly increase printing costs and having particular regard to the purpose and audience of the document and also to ensuring that value for money is being achieved. The use of full colour printing should generally be restricted to those documents that fall within Class 3, as detailed below:
Class 1 – Reports that include information (text) only, e.g. returns under bounty Acts or the annual report under the Bankruptcy Act. The production standards are limited to black ink only and no illustrations.
Class 2 – Reports with a wider readership than Class 1 documents, e.g. reports of most departments and authorities. Higher production standards are acceptable in terms of paper quality. Black and white illustrations and limited use of colour in text are the main features of standards for this class of document.
Class 3 – Reports of authorities in active competition in the private sector, documents that are also used for marketing or communicating with an audience beyond the Parliament, or where considerations of national prestige are paramount. Production standards are appropriately higher – more expensive paper may be used and colour illustrations are permitted.
Where full colour printing is used, author bodies should be able to demonstrate, if required, the necessity of using full colour.
The use of colour that ‘bleeds’ to the edge of the page is not permitted under any circumstances.
Over recent years, the Committee has noticed that agencies have employed an ever increasing use of colour and illustrations in the documents that are presented to Parliament, particularly in the case of annual reports. The Committee accepts that as printing methods and printers have become more sophisticated, the cost of colour printing has decreased.
While the Committee is prepared to relax the restrictions on colour printing, it agrees with the submission of the State Library of South Australia that “Parliamentary records should be statements of facts, not glossy advertising brochures” and therefore counsels agencies to have regard to limiting the use of colour and illustrations to where it enhances the reader’s understanding of the material and the mission and objectives of the agencies. Advertising activities should be conducted via the appropriate means.
Printed documents prepared for presentation to Parliament must be in the international standard size of B5 (250 mm deep x 176 mm wide. B5L (landscape) and ‘Canberra B5’ are not permitted. It is not necessary for delegated legislation presented to the Parliament to comply with this requirement.
This standard was initially put in place to enable individual documents to be bound together with other documents in an annually bound, set of volumes of Parliamentary Papers. As hard copies of documents are no longer provided to PPS recipients, and accordingly bound volumes no longer produced, this requirement should now be relaxed to allow documents to be presented in the widely used A4 paper size.
Paper should be of archival quality. Recycled papers and boards that have been deemed by the National Archives of Australia to be unsuitable for archival requirements should not be used. (Advice on selecting paper is provided in the National Archives Advice Note 30, Which Paper?, October 1998).
Paper for text and illustrations – up to 100 gsm coated or uncoated publication paper, A2 paper, or uncoated woodfree general book paper, white only. Expensive A1 quality art and cast-coated papers should be avoided.
Tinted insert paper – (up to 100 gsm) may be used for non-textual material, such as statistical or financial sections in annual reports. In saddle-stapled documents, tinted pages must be arranged to form either a complete wrap-around or an inserted section.
The National Archives of Australia (NAA) declared that “[t]here is no requirement to create a printed copy for archival purposes, and in fact, this would be contrary to the Archive’s [Digital Continuity 2020] policy position”. The NAA also stated that should the Standards be retained that the advice on archival paper be updated by removing the reference to “(Advice on selecting paper is provided in the National Archives Advice Note 30, Which Paper?, October 1998)”and replacing it with a link to the following: http://www.naa.gov.au/information-management/managing-information-and-records/preserving/choosing-paper.aspx. As the Parliament has not adopted exclusive electronic presentation of documents, the suggested advice on selecting paper provided in the link is agreed.
Cover and binding
Up to 250 gsm cover paper or art board. The caliper should not exceed 300 microns. Expensive materials such as cast-coated or metallic boards should be avoided.
Specifications for the binding of any publication presented to Parliament must allow for subsequent rebinding in annual parliamentary papers volumes. Thus loose-leaf binding, side stapling, cleat binding and spiral or plastic comb binding; gate-fold covers and die-cut covers are not permitted.
with a text thickness over 5 mm are to be perfect bound, burst bound or section sewn with drawn-on cover,
with a text thickness under 5 mm are to be saddle stapled,
of four to eight pages should be produced as an eight-page booklet (with blank pages as necessary) and have a separate cover,
of four pages or less (including a cover/title page) should be printed as a self-covered four-page unit.
As with the paper size requirement, this standard may be relaxed as 2016 is the last of the PPS to be provided in printed hardcopy form, the specifications providing for subsequent rebinding in an annual volume are no longer applicable. The Committee expects that covers and binding should still ensure useability and longevity. The use of metal spiral binding and bulldog clips are not acceptable.
Tip-ins and inserts
Tip-ins (individual leaves loose or glued into a folded section) should be avoided wherever possible because they slow down production and add to cost. Loose inserts will be omitted from documents included in the PPS. Maps are to be folded and inserted in a B5 envelope glued to the inside back cover of the document.
Tip-ins are to be avoided for the reasons mentioned above as well as the likeliness of tip-ins and loose inserts becoming lost and thereby rendering the document incomplete.
Number of copies required for the PPS
NOTE: This section details the quantity for the PPS only. Author bodies must also include in the print run quantities required for tabling, the two Government distribution systems, and the author body's own quantities.
150 bound B5 international portrait size copies are required for the PPS. The quantity comprises:
110 copies trimmed to B5 size (250 mm deep x 176 mm wide); and
40 untrimmed copies (this is approximately 258 mm deep x 180 mm wide and is necessary for subsequent rebinding into annual volumes).
All 150 copies are to be delivered to:
Canprint Communications Pty Ltd
1 Tralee Street
HUME ACT 2620
It is in the interests of author bodies to file a dispatch docket signed by Canprint staff as proof of delivery.
In 1996, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet announced that author agencies were to pay for the cost of printing the extra copies required for the PPS.
The number of copies of documents required for the PPS has been under continued review since the Standards were set in 2008. The required quantities have progressively decreased from 150 copies in 2008 down to 30 copies in 2016 when the provision of hardcopies ceased at the end of the year. As the 2017 series, and beyond, is available only in electronic form, this standard is now redundant and has been dispensed with.
When making printing arrangements, author agencies may seek advice on whether the document is likely to be required for the series:
agencies whose name commences with A-M
Department of the Senate
(02) 6277 3037
agencies whose name commences with N-Z,
Auditor-General's reports and Budget documents
Department of the House of Representatives
(02) 6277 4800
As a general guide, if a document was included in the PPS last year, it is likely to be included in future years.
These arrangements continue to remain in place.
Other responsibilities and costs
If a tabled document is ordered to be printed but is of a quality below that specified for Parliamentary Papers, the production costs involved to address any poor quality aspects will be borne by the author agency.
Author agencies must also bear all costs incurred in the resetting, reformatting, reprinting or binding of documents to be included in the PPS if their document:
has not been produced in accordance with the standards;
has not been provided to the Parliament's distribution agent in a timely fashion; and
the 40 copies have been left untrimmed, but oversize, requiring pre-trimming to 258 mm deep x 180 mm wide.
Although the Committee is prepared to relax the printing standards, author agencies nonetheless maintain a responsibility to ensure that all documents they present to Parliament are of archival quality, readable and useable.
An author body finding errors or omissions or needing to notify corrections in its tabled document, should prepare and arrange corrigenda or erratum slips in accordance with instructions issued by the Tabling Officer, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. (Refer to paragraph 52 of the Guidelines for presentation of ministerial statements, reports and government responses to the Parliament.)
For advice on the provision of slips for documents in the PPS, author bodies should contact the parliamentary staff listed in the advice section.
Apart from updating the reference to the PM&C’s guidelines, the advice for corrections to documents presented to Parliament remains unchanged.
Final Committee comment:
The current printing standards should be relaxed to a minimum standard for hardcopies presented to Parliament (including tabling and stock copies), allowing for greater flexibility and value for money, while ensuring the ongoing integrity of access to parliamentary records (including for distribution to Senators and Members and long term storage, handling and archiving).
The Department of the Senate and other submitters have argued that there are significant advantages in enhancing online publication of tabled papers and that “the online publication of documents meets standards appropriate for the publication and preservation of digital records”.
The PM&C’s guidelines for the presentation of documents to Parliament stipulate that copies must be made available online as soon as possible after tabling and that Parliament must be notified that copies are available on the relevant website.
Presently the only standards in relation to digital copies for parliamentary papers are that the document be available in “PDF and one other format, such as Word”.
The NAA has a set of standards for base metadata but do not provide any requirement for a particular type of format. Section 12 of the Belcher Red Tape Review refers to a digital design standard (now termed the Digital Service Standard) which falls within the responsibility of the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA). The DTA were invited to make a submission to the inquiry and to appear before the Committee at its roundtable discussion but declined to do so.
That the Digital Transformation Agency in consultation with the Department of Finance develop a minimum set of publication standards for digital documents with suitability for possible future electronic tabling.