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Thursday, 9 May 1985
Page: 1718

Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Resources and Energy)(11.11) —I will ensure that Senator Reid's remarks about a health centre in Canberra are directed to the attention of the Minister for Health (Dr Blewett). I listened with considerable interest to what Senator Missen had to say on the situation in South Africa. I agree completely with the remarks of my colleague Senator Aulich, both in what he said about Senator Missen's contribution and his rather more free ranging comments on the general situation there.

I too would say, as Senator Aulich did, that Senator Missen's remarks on codes of conduct, economic boycotts and related matters were generally consistent with the Government's position on these matters and, moreover, were marked by a degree of sensitivity and understanding of the condition of black people, coloured people, in South Africa, which is conspicuously lacking in the approach of so many of his colleagues and in particular was lacking in the contribution to the debate at lunch time today by his colleague Senator Jessop. It is important that we maintain a strong, civilised, bipartisan approach to these very grave matters of morality that are involved in apartheid and our response to it. I welcome the contributions that have been made to that debate and that consciousness raising exercise tonight by Senators Missen and Aulich.

It was a gracious apology from Senator Lewis with respect to his misleading the Senate today. I am sure that Mr Scholes will take the whole affair in good part, even the chiding which accompanied what was otherwise, as I said, a gracious apology by Senator Lewis in circumstances which I can understand him having misunderstood what might have occurred.

The PRESIDENT —Last night in the adjournment debate Senator Missen raised the matter concerning the delay in the production of the Senate Hansard for Tuesday, 7 May. I undertook to refer Senator Missen's comments to the relevant Minister. This I did. I now seek to have incorporated in Hansard for the Senate's information a copy of the reply I have received from the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism, Mr John Brown, who has ministerial responsibilities for the Government Printing Office. Might I say that I appreciate the Minister's prompt reply to my letter. I take it that leave is granted to have the contents of that letter incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The letter read as follows-


9 May 1985 Senator the Hon. Douglas McClelland

President of the Senate

Parliament House


My dear Mr President I wish to advise you of the reasons the Australian Government Publishing Service is having problems in the timely production of parliamentary publications including Hansards.

Operating under a very tight staff ceiling requirement, AGPS productivity has been seriously affected by an epidemic of repetitive strain injury and a shortage of qualified keyboard print production staff. You will appreciate that the incidence of RSI among staff is unpredictable and makes orderly planning and scheduling particularly difficult.

To alleviate the situation, AGPS has been contracting out core typesetting work which does not require to be held on file for updating purposes. Several issues of the Public Service Gazette, for example, have been contracted out to private typesetters.

During the recent Parliamentary session there have been abnormally heavy workloads of Bills and Explanatory Memoranda. For example, on Wednesday of this week there were 39 Bills, 26 for Issue and 13 for Supply, with their accompanying explanatory memoranda, all required by 8.30 am on Thursday.

The consequence has been that over the last two Parliamentary sitting days, production of Hansards has been seriously delayed to both Houses with today's Hansards being scheduled for delivery by 2.30 pm for the Senate and 6.30 pm for the House of Representatives.

I note that in a comment in the Senate last night Senator Missen raised the issue of priorities allocated by the Printing Office to various Senate and House of Representative publications.

I assure you that Printing Office allocation of priorities for Parliamentary work is in accordance with long standing practices agreed with the Parliament. Notice Papers, Bills and Explanatory Memoranda, Votes and Proceedings, Journals and Hansards are produced with that order of priority.

Manuscripts for Hansard for both Houses is received progressively during the night. Both the Senate and Representatives Hansards are progressed at the same time depending on the amount and timeliness of copy received. Generally, the Senate Hansard is published earlier because it is smaller in page content.

AGPS is making every effort to meet the situation. A close examination is being made of scheduling of Bills, especially those for Issue, to see if some typesetting can be deferred for the day shift staff instead of being processed during the night. All available staff resources are being utilised.

Yours sincerely JOHN BROWN

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senate adjourned at 11.14 p.m.