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Thursday, 24 June 2010
Page: 6537

Mr HAYES (11:26 AM) —On behalf of the Joint Committee on Publications I present the committee’s report entitled Inquiry into the development of a digital repository and electronic distribution of the Parliamentary Papers Series.

Ordered that the report be made a parliamentary paper.

Mr HAYES —by leave—It gives me great pleasure to present today the joint committee’s report of the inquiry into the development of an electronic parliamentary papers series. The Parliamentary Papers Series (PPS) is a unique series which brings together information that documents many aspects of public policy formulation and the administration of government since Federation, including all the committee reports presented to this House and the Senate.

When it first began the series was widely distributed. There have always been issues associated with the series and how regularly and widely the series should be distributed. As early as 1917, in the interests of ‘cost, distribution and efficiency’, the joint committee recommended that members of parliament only receive the series upon request. Since then many decisions have been made, which has resulted in the series no longer meeting one of its main objectives: to be available as widely as possible.

I report that in 2006, still maintaining its interest in the ‘cost, distribution and efficiency’ of the series, the committee held an inquiry into the distribution of the Parliamentary Papers Series. A principal recommendation from that report was for the chamber departments to ‘investigate and implement the development of an online digital repository for the Parliamentary Papers Series’.

The initial efforts to progress this recommendation were not fruitful for a number of reasons. There was a lack of technological capability and concerns about the capital and human resources required to develop a digital repository were problematic. However, in light of Commonwealth innovations in using the internet and the development of systems within Parliament House which could support an electronic series, the committee decided last month to revisit its 2006 recommendations to try to make an electronic series a reality.

The committee contacted various organisations by letter requesting submissions and I would like to thank those who kindly responded and made contributions to the committee. As a result of their overwhelming support for the development of an electronic Parliamentary Paper Series, the committee has made a number of recommendations in this report which will result in the parliamentary departments developing a digital format repository for the PPS to be based in the parliament.

Further, the committee has recommended that the repository be implemented in time to coincide with the start of the 2011 PPS. I would like to stress at this point that there is no intention to stop the printed copy of the series. The committee acknowledges that the electronic access may result in a decreased demand for the printed series. However, the committee also acknowledges that the series needs to be maintained in perpetuity and that paper is the only medium in which this can be guaranteed.

I am personally proud to be the Chair of the House Publications Committee and Deputy Chair of the Joint Publications Committee which, through the recommendations in this report, will enable anyone, at any time, anywhere, to access the PPS online. This will go a long way to making the series more relevant in today’s society and will ensure the continuing existence of the series into the future.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank Sue Blunden and Matt Keele—the secretariat has diligently assisted the committee in formulating these recommendations, assembling the submissions and coordinating the final development of the report. I commend the report to the House.