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Hansard Proofs Box #1999-1331King’s Hall, North Wing, Main Floor

Cedar box with panelled sides and hinged lid on tapering ring turned legs; with inscription `HANSARD PROOFS’ painted in gilt on the lid.


This Hansard Proofs Box was one of two of this design that were located in King’s Hall. They were placed outside each Chamber and used as a box where Members and Senators could place amended Hansard proofs. The term ‘Hansard’ refers to the transcripts of the speeches given in the Commonwealth Parliament and comes from Thomas Hansard, a publisher who printed the reports of the proceedings in the British House of Commons in the early 19th Century. As it was the official account of proceedings it was important to record all that was said when Parliament was in session and to ensure that the transcripts were factual and complete.

A lot of work went into printing Hansards. Two teams of nine Hansard reporters were assigned to each Chamber when it was in session. Each reporter had a five or ten minute shift recording the proceedings in the Chamber. During their shift, the reporter would sit on a stool (1999-1423 in the Senate and 1999-0479 in the House of Representatives) at the end of the large table (1999-1431 in the Senate and 1999-0429 in the House of Representatives) in the centre of the room. They would record everything that was said in shorthand (an abbreviated writing method), using paper and pen. Once their turn recording the proceedings was over, the Hansard reporter would return to the Hansard office, which was located in the Provisional Parliament House (initially in the front east corner of the lower floor, later on the third floor of the Senate wing), and dictate their notes to a high speed typist. This ‘proof’ would be typed onto paper with carbon copies (four copies in total for Question Time and three copies for other proceedings). The copies consisted of a white copy that was sent to the Government Printing Office, a pink copy for Senators (also referred to as ‘pinks’), a green copy for Members (also referred to as ‘greens’) and a yellow copy that was kept by Hansard staff. The reporter then took the white copy, checked all the details such as names and quotes were correct, and marked it up for the Government Printer. This was also checked by a supervisor for editorial purposes. This whole process happened in 40 minutes. At the end of the 45 minutes from commencing the turn, the reporter returned to the Chamber, and the cycle started again.

Before the white copy of the proceedings was sent to the Government Printer, the pink or green copy (depending on whether it had been recorded in the Senate or House of Representatives Chamber) needed to be checked by the Senator or Member who had delivered the speech. The appropriate copy was rolled up and inserted into a Lamsom tube container, which was then delivered via pneumatic tubes to the Chamber. The Member or Senator would then make amendments on the copy and send it back to the Parliamentary Reporting Staff office. However, if they had already left the Chamber the document would be delivered to them. The Member or Senator then placed the copy with their amendments into this box so it could be collected by an attendant and taken to the office. Minor amendments were accepted by the Parliamentary Reporting Staff and recorded on the white copy, but politicians were not allowed to rewrite the document. Once this process had been completed the white copy was sent off, via pneumatic tubes, to the Government Printing Office to be printed.

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Statement of values

This Hansard Proofs Box is significant as evidence of the Parliamentary Reporting system both in terms of the importance of having an accurate record of proceedings and the democratic value of having this available.

This Hansard Proofs Box is significant as a component of the Heritage Collection, which comprises those pieces of furniture which were used in the Provisional Parliament House between 1924 and 1988. The collection has associations with the process of government, the ceremonial, administrative, promotional and recreational functions conducted within the building, and with the individuals who governed Australia between 1927 and 1988. The building is a primary example of the Inter War Stripped Classical style of architecture prominent in Canberra’s government architecture of the 1920’s to 1940’s. The characteristic expression of the building’s style is due to the design work of the Commonwealth’s first government architect, John Smith Murdoch. The Old Parliament House building has a richness of internal fabric and collections, which include the purpose designed furniture and furnishings, that convey the way in which parliamentary functions were conducted, the everyday use of the building, and the hierarchical nature of parliamentary staffing practices. This furniture is significant as it has remained within the building for which it was designed.


Harris, Bernie, Interview with Freya Clawley, 2011.

  • Hansard Proofs BoxHansard Proofs Box —


Width 496mm
Height 920mm
Depth 315mm
Medium Cedar; timber; metal
Creator’s name Unknown
Date created Circa 1920s