Commonwealth government publications

Guide to the range of publications, both online and in print, from the Commonwealth Parliament and Government

About Hansard

Hansard is the name given to transcripts of parliamentary proceedings. The term comes from the early printer of British parliamentary proceedings, Thomas Curson Hansard (1776–1833).

Hansard contains a record of debates about new legislation and proposed changes to legislation. It includes second reading speeches, where bills are debated.

This guide includes information about debates from the House of Representatives; the Senate; and Commonwealth Parliamentary Committees that investigate single topics, issues or areas of concern.

Online

House of Representatives & Senate

Complete Hansard from 1901 available online

Direct link to Hansard page -- this page is reasonably simple and a little easier to use than ParlInfo. Search defaults to current parliament. For older material choose More options and then change to relevant parliament.

Search using ParlInfo

ParlInfo has fully searchable PDFs of Commonwealth Hansard for the House of Representatives and Senate from the first Parliament commencing in 1901. Narrow search by date, and for more recent issues, by parliament number, party, electorate, speaker, questioner, responder, interjector, party, or electorate. You may need to reload the page to get all the options to show.

If you are using the ParlInfo site regularly you can register which allows you to save searches and create lists of resources that can be accessed later.

If you are trying to find debates on particular legislation note that the colloquial name for a bill is often different than the actual title. You can often find the exact title through searching newspapers or general internet searches. For example the conscription legislation in World War 1 was actually titled the Military Service Referendum Bill. The recent bill colloquially described as 'carbon tax' was actually called the Clean Energy Bill. If you search under the actual title of the bill you will get better results.

Here are some example searches:

To find debate on the conscription bill in 1916 I can search under 'Military Service Referendum Bill' (the quotation marks will limit the search to the complete phrase). I can tick Hansard for the House or Senate or both. There are various other options to limit the search, including date and speaker.

To trace debate around immigration legislation I could start with the Immigration Restriction Bill of 1901. A search by bill name will bring up various debates over the years, but I can narrow down the first debates using the date options at left of the results screen.

To trace Gough Whitlam's parliamentary statements on 'National Service',  search using that phrase and tick 'Hansard' under the House of Representatives, and limit to 'Whitlam' as Speaker in the search fields at the right.

To trace a debate about technological change, when Barry Jones held up a circuit panel from a computer from 1970 and compared its size to a microchip, just click 'Hansard' under 'House of Representatives' in Advanced search, then use a few keywords and browse the results to find the speech.

Browse using ParlInfo

Under the House or Senate tick the box next to 'Hansard' and then click on the magnifying glass icon next to 'Hansard' -- this will open a window that will allow you to browse. Using the options to the left narrow down by parliament number or year.

From 1990 you can further choose speaker/ questioner/ interjector / electorate/ context from the options at left of the screen. See this example for the 1990s. In this way you can quickly browse for particular periods, politicians and issues. Prior to 1990 you can easily browse to a particular day.

A useful alternative to ParlInfo covering Hansard from 1901 to 1965:

This site has limited functionality but is easy to use and was developed by Parliamentary staff: http://historichansard.net/

Committees

Try the Parliament of Australia site for a definition of 'Committees'.

ParlInfo - Advanced Search 

Choose 'Committees' (heading in blue) to search all Committees, or select a specific Committee (Senate, House of Representatives, or Joint).

To browse by date, parliament number, or context (type of notice), click magnifying glass next to relevant Committee type.

Includes:

  • Senate Estimates Committees (1988 to date)
  • House of Representatives Committees (1993 to date)
  • Joint Committees (1994 to date)
  • Senate Committees (1995 to date)
  • Committees considering bills (1996 to date)

Indexes

House of Representatives & Senate

Hansard from 1901 onwards can be searched on the ParlInfo website.

There are no separate printed indexes. Printed indexes for each sitting period (usually about half a year) are at the back of the printed volumes of Hansard. They are in two parts:

  • Part 1: speeches
  • Part 2: subjects

Newspaper indexes can also be used to locate significant debates.

Committees - indexes

Online

ParlInfo - Advanced Search (c1990s to date)  

Choose Committees to search all Committees, or select a specific Committee (Senate, House of Representatives, or Joint).

To browse by date, Parliament number, or context (type of notice), click magnifying glass next to relevant Committee type.

Print

Committee Hansards (c1972 to c2000) 

Some Committee Hansards are catalogued individually to Dewey number appropriate to subject of inquiry of Committee.

Search the catalogue to find required committee.

If all Committee Hansards are wanted, use the canned search link above.

Print

The Library also holds all printed copies of Hansard for the Senate and the House of Representatives.

House of Representatives & Senate 1901-1952

Prior to 1953, the House and Senate Hansards were issued together

Parliamentary debates (1901-1945)

Parliamentary debates (1946-1952)

House of Representatives 1953-

From 1953 the House and Senate Hansards were issued separately.

1953-2009

 Check locations tab of the catalogue record for other specific dates and locations. 

Use online version in preference to requesting printed volumes from offsite.

2010 to current

Senate 1953-

1953 to current

Check locations tab of the catalogue record for other specific dates and locations.

Use online version in preference to requesting printed volumes from offsite