It is fundamental that Parliamentary proceedings should be given the fullest publicity and that the discussions by the people's representatives in Parliament should not be secret. 'Hansard' is one means of safeguarding this basic principle.
Speeches made in each House of the Parliament are reported by the Parliamentary Reporting staff and produced as the Official Reports of the Parliamentary Debates, which are commonly known as 'Hansard'. Hansard was the name of the first printer of the House of Commons debates. The head of the Hansard staff is called the Leader, and staff includes an assistant leader and reporters. Working on a roster, each reporter takes notes in the Chamber gallery for ten minutes, either using a shorthand machine or by using a shorthand pen in the traditional style; then they transcribe their notes, making allowable corrections in the process.
Within a short time after a Member makes a speech a transcript is available. On the next day 'Hansard' for the proceedings of the previous day in the Legislative Council and the House of Assembly are available. These daily copies are for internal use in Parliament and in Government Departments and are at this stage 'confidential and subject to revision'.
A weekly 'Hansard' booklet is published, and bound indexed volumes are produced after each session. Any member of the public may obtain from State Print copies of 'Hansard'. A South Australian 'Hansard' has been published every year since the inauguration of responsible Government in 1857. Hansard is also now available on-line.
In compilation of its report, the 'Hansard' staff is guided substantially by the definition of a 'Hansard' report as enunciated by a House of Commons Select Committee on Parliamentary Debates in 1907, viz.: "It is a full report in the first person, of all speakers alike, a full report being defined as one 'which, though not strictly verbatim, is substantially the verbatim report, with repetitions and redundancies omitted and with obvious mistakes corrected, but which on the other hand leaves out nothing that adds to the meaning of the speech or illustrates the argument'."
Corrections by Members are allowed, provided they do not alter materially the meaning of anything that was said in the House.