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Monday, 24 May 1965

Senator MARRIOTT (Tasmania) .- I appreciate the fact that at this late hour at the end of the sessional period the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Paltridge) has allowed me to debate this motion. After all, the Joint Printing Committee felt that there should be a select committee of the Parliament on parliamentary and government publications and the Government decided that there would be such a committee. Both Houses of the Parliament appointed their representatives. We sat long hours, we heard expert witnesses, and we worked very hard on the report. It is my view as an ordinary backbencher that when the Parliament appoints a committee and the committee makes its report, the Parliament and not the Government should debate the report.

All honorable senators have had a copy of the report, which contains over 70 pages. I think it would be very wrong for the Parliament to go into recess without having discussed this report. It is a report to the Parliament and not to the Government. It contains 67 recommendations. I am sorry that one of the most helpful members of the Parliamentary and Government Publications Committee, Senator Murphy, is not here. I hope that he will have an opportunity to join in a debate on this report, which I think is very valuable. We have had some results already. The Department of the Treasury has already taken certain action following our report. One of the greatest handicaps of the Government Printing Office was the lack of a typographer. I believe that as a result of our Committee's investigations, findings and recommendations, the Government took action to appoint a typographer.

Senator Wright - What is that?

Senator MARRIOTT - He is the expert who decides on the type of print, colour, set up and size. It was very difficult for the Government Printer to get a typographer but, I believe because of our Committee's findings and recommendations, we now have employed in the Government Printing Office a typographer who will do a lot to help us. I would not like, particularly at this late stage, to detain the Senate very long on this matter, although I should love to have an hour on it. There are several recommendations of which I think the Senate should take note and in which I hope it will support the Committee.

One of the chief findings is that there be set up in Australia an equivalent of Her Majesty's Stationery Office in Great Britain, where the ordinary person and/ or politician can purchase any paper printed by the government. There are government papers available at Sub-Treasury Offices in the various capital cities, but very few people know that. I understand that the previous New South Wales Government set up a stationer's shop. I believe that the Commonwealth should act on the recommendation in the report to confer with the States with a view to establishing a shop similar to Her Majesty's Stationery Office wherein one will be able to buy Commonwealth and State publications. A shop could be set up in a Government building. I believe that the people of Australia should be able to obtain publications that are issued by the State and Federal Governments.

I understand there is still in force what is called the Departmental Publications Committee. The Joint Committee strongly recommended that that Committee be abolished, because all the evidence that we took on that matter led to the unanimous opinion that the Departmental Publications Committee was not worthwhile. We were of opinion that a department which wanted to publish an annual report or even a statement should have to go to some authority in order to be able to publish it. We believe they should go to the Government Printer and the typographer before they are put into print. In my view, there has been a terrific waste of money by departments due to the lack of efficiency of the Publications Committee to which I have referred. Annual reports and other statements have been printed by departments, either using their own resources or the resources of private enterprise.

Senator Wright - What departments are represented on the Committee?

Senator MARRIOTT - Only the Treasury. There has been a terrific waste of money in the compilation and publication of reports from this Parliament and from departments. We urge the Government to adopt the recommendations in the report. If the Government will not, I believe that we will be able to take action in the Senate to compel it to adopt them. I am not too sure of that, but 1 believe, as a start, that the Senate should say: " Yes, we agree with this report ". 1 do not want to bore the Senate by listing the 67 recommendations contained in our 71-page report, but there are two items to which I wish to refer. One is uniformity of size of government publications. We have come down on the side of royal octavo - many honorable senators may not know what that is - and quarto size papers. We object to the foolscap size. I have in my hand the notice paper of the Senate, which is foolscap size, and the journal of the Senate, which is foolscap size. Many departmental reports are also foolscap size. Anyone with any knowledge of filing papers would know that you cannot file foolscap, quarto, and royal octavo papers together. We can learn from the House of Commons, the House of Lords and Her Majesty's Stationery Office about obtaining uniformity of size in papers presented to the Parliament and/ or printed by departments. I hope that the Senate will support the adoption of that recommendation.

Senator O'Byrne - On what size paper did the Committee print its report?

Senator MARRIOTT - We printed it on quarto size paper. Royal octavo is the smallest size. There must be some reports which can be printed on royal octavo. I was told today that it would be difficult for the Senate notice paper and the journal to be printed on the smaller size paper, but I still suggest that our recommendation be adopted.

The Senate has received this report and honorable senators have had an opportunity to read it. At this late hour, at the end of the sessional period, I do not think they want me to make a lengthy speech. I merely ask honorable senators to support our recommendation in relation to uniformity of size.

My lawyer colleagues or friends may come in on my next statement. At present a bill, and then an act, provide that the act will come into force, say, on the twentyfirst day of March in the year one thousand nine hundred and sixty-five. Our suggestion is that in government publications the date be shown as 21 March 65. Unless honorable senators have studied this aspect they will not know that the adoption of our suggestion would save in a year a terrific amount in the cost of paper and printing. The spelling out of the date goes back to the time when documents were handwritten and could be altered. We had expert evidence that printing cannot be altered. It would be quite safe to show a date as 21 March 65. Everyone knows that the year is 1965, not 1865 or 2065.

Finally, I ask the Senate to support another view of the Committee, which is that every government publication of any thickness - I have one in my hand at the moment - shall have the title printed on whit is called, in printing terms, the spine, so that when it is filed the title will be clearly visible.

There are other aspects of this report. As I have said, there are 67 recommendations, which no doubt honorable senators have read. All I ask is that the Senate support our recommendations so that they can be put to the Government. If the Government does not accept them, or at least the main ones, we can take further action in the next sessional period.

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