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Friday, 30 May 1902

Mr MAHON (Coolgardie) - Despite the remarks of the honorable- member for South

Australia, Mr. Poynton, I think that a great deal more might be done by the Printing Committee in reducing expense. No later than this morning a printed document, containing a copy of a telegram from the Secretary of State for the Colonies to the Governor-General, and the GovernorGeneral's reply, was circulated to honorable members, although the whole text of both telegrams had already been published in the morning newspapers.

Mr Poynton - That document was printed by order of the House.

Mr MAHON - I think that if the Printing Committee is to control this expenditure it should have the sole control. At the present time the control is divided, and the House authorizes the printing of some documents, whilst the committee authorizes the printing of others. We need only turn to the files in order to see an enormous amount of printed matter which is useless. I do not see the value of the " "Votes and Proceedings " in their present form. If they contained even the names of honorable members who favoured particular proposals they would be of more use, and they should certainly include the answers to questions, as does a similar publication in connexion with the Senate. As far as Hansard is concerned, I think that a great many of the complaints are absolutely baseless. This House has certainly the best staff of reporters in Australia, and there have been absolutely no complaints about the way in which the work has been done. The reports are already condensed to some extent, and condensed well. The honorable member for Gippsland, who is always well treated by both the morning newspapers in Melbourne, invariably securing very full reports, is indifferent whether or not there is an official record of his remarks. But honorable members from the other States to which the reports of our proceedings have to be telegraphed are not in the same fortunate position. It is, therefore, absolutely necessary that the Government should pursue a fairly liberal policy in regard to the distribution of Hansard. I have tried to impress this upon the Government from the beginning, but they have not responded as I should have liked. The honorable member for Gippsland has a very rigid idea regarding Hansard reports, holding that they should be an exact transcript of the reporters' notes, but exempt from correction. If the honorable member had had any practical experience in reporting, he would know that many observations may be uttered which the reporter fails to catch, or which he catches imperfectly. If only what ,is recorded in the reporter's notebook is to find a place in Hansard, a great deal of time must be taken up in personal explanations. I am not now attacking the members of the Hansard staff, because I know that, from the number of interjections, it is almost impossible in some cases to accurately reproduce what is said.

Mr A McLEAN (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) - The reporters would not miss any material point.

Mr MAHON - But the honorable member can surely conceive of a misrepresentation taking place under some circumstances. If an honorable member were misreported lie would not care to have the misstatement recorded in Hansard. It is therefore desirable that we should have an opportunity of seeing the proofs of our speeches. The honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon, has stated that the use of the linotype would materially lessen the cost of composition. I would point out, however, that if honorable members are to be allowed to sub-edit Hansa/rd and to make additions and corrections as at present, the use of the linotype will not result in any economy, because if a correction has to be made in any particular line, the whole line lias to be re-set.

Sir George Turner - I think the Government Printer favours the monoline

Mr MAHON - A select committee who have had practical experience in journalistic and typographical work should be appointed to take the testimony of the chief of the Hansard staff, and one or two other experts, who are in a position to make practical suggestions. If these were considered by practical men, Parliament would, no doubt, be guided to a wiser decision than that to which, without such aid, it is likely to come.

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