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Tuesday, 26 September 1972
Page: 1135

The PRESIDENT - I wish to refer to the discussion last Thursday evening on the authority of the Chair to examine matter when leave is sought to incorporate it in Hansard and to order its exclusion for any one of several reasons. The well established practice is that the President has final responsibility for the material that appears in the Hansard report of the Senate proceedings and for many years has exercised this authority to direct the Principal Parliamentary Reporter to expunge from the record objectionable matter, irregular questions and offensive remarks withdrawn at the direction of the Chair; or to exclude unread matter, graphs, tables, etc.. if the Government Printer advises that the incorporation of the material will present technical problems that wm be costly or will unduly delay the publication of Hansard. The President, of course, shall inform the Senate of his decision if it is made without its knowledge.

In exercise of that authority the Presiding Officer may, if he so wishes, examine any material for which leave to incorporate is sought or has been given. Similarly, as the inclusion of unread matter requires the leave of the whole Senate or Committee, 1 would uphold the right of any honourable senator to know exactly what is being incorporated. I point out that should any honourable senator disagree with the decision of the Presiding Officer to excise matter he has his remedy through the moving of a substantive motion. [ remind honourable senators that Tuesday, 12th September, from the Chair I ordered Hansard to take no notice of interjections during a division. A few minutes later I reaffirmed this direction to expunge the interjections from the record when a senator repeated one of them. The whole position is based on commonsense and good taste.

Finally, there is the technical consideration. The reporting department and the Government Printer are geared to report and publish expeditiously the spoken word. The incorporation of voluminous matter, complex tables and diagrams involving a photographic process would defeat the primary purpose of having a daily Hansard - that is, early publication and availability to senators and other recipients. I bear these considerations in mind and J feel sure that it will be agreed that there must be proper control over the incorporation in Hansard of unread matter. At the same time, 1 recognise that it is important that such control should be exercised in a way which avoids any undue interruption of a senators speech, cither from the Chair or from the floor. 1 think it is desirable that I should ask the Standing Orders Committee to examine the matter. In the meantime I ask all honourable senators, when seeking leave to incorporate matter in Hansard, to indicate to the Senate its length and the precise nature of the contents.

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