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Thursday, 22 August 1912

Senator RAE (New South Wales) . - I wish to call attention to a matter of some importance to other honorable, senators as well as myself, the imperfect distribution of Hansard. I have had occasion to complain of this on several occasions, and yesterday wrote to the Government Printer on the subject, as I had already done before, more than once, and spoke to the officers of the House regarding it. On making inquiry, I find that I am not the only one who has cause for complaint, but my case is particularly bad, and shows the need for some new arrangement, or some means of enforcing the present arrangement. Last year the bound volumes of the debates to which I was entitled failed to reach me, and some time after I had received the notification that they had been sent, I made inquiries about them, but could learn nothing definite. Eventually I found them in a news agency, fourteen miles from where I live. They had been taken there by a carrier who, when written to by the Government Printer after I had complained about the matter, stated that he had my receipt for their delivery. If he had a receipt, it had been forged, because the volumes did not reach me until I had paid for their carriage from where I found them. This year I have not yet received the bound volumes of last session. On inquiring why they had not come to hand, I was informed by the Government Printer, some weeks since, that they had been sent two or three weeks earlier. He promised to find out why they had not arrived, but I have not yet heard anything, although I wrote twice. I have been informed that the Government Printer of Victoria publishes and undertakes with a contractor to deliver the bound volumes of Hansard to every member's home. Members of the House of Representatives have the same complaint to make as I am making; indeed, I have been informed by old members that these delays have occurred ever since the beginning of Federation. Early next year members of both parties will desire, in view of the approaching elections, to be able to refer to the official reports. It is useless to complain without suggesting a remedy, and, therefore, I say that if we are at the mercy of the State Government, and therefore cannot control the distribution, we should arrange for an officer of the Commonwealth to take charge of it, or it should be understood that each member must call at the Printing Office for his own copy. I trust that the Government will see if this grievance can be remedied.

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