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University of Wollongong Australia

Government Information: Types of Government Publications

Overview

Government publications cover an enormous range of materials and subjects. They include reports of Select, Standing and Joint Committees, Royal Commissions, Commissions of Inquiry, together with the more regularly issued annual reports etc. of government departments and agencies.

For a good overview consult GovPubs: The Australian Government Publications Guide. This archived site has useful explanations of the different types of publications, series title changes over time and any accompanying official indexes available - all useful when tracking down past publications.

Also helpful:

Harrigan, M. (1990), The Guide to Government Publications in Australia. A copy is held in the Wollongong Campus Library's Law Collection at the KZ/015.94053/HAR/1 call number.

Parliamentary debates

See the information provided under the 'Parliamentary Debates, Speeches and Announcements' tab in this guide.

Parliamentary papers

See the information provided under the 'Reports and Papers' tab in this guide.

Reports

Many reports published as parliamentary papers are also published in a non-parliamentary paper edition. Many libraries often receive the individual report edition as well as the parliamentary paper edition. If so these are listed individually in the relevant library catalogue. The catalogue record may also include a reference to the corresponding Parliamentary Paper number.

The word 'department' is sometimes abbreviated to 'dept' and it is important to try searching by the abbbreviated term if your first search doesn't work. Try, for example a Keyword search on: dept immigration ethnic affairs

Official records

The official records are summary records of proceedings and therefore do not record everything said, apart from the wording of motions. They contain information regarding members of committees, records of attendance and details of papers tabled but not printed. The official records of the Commonwealth Parliament and State Parliaments have different names.

Commonwealth

The Journals of the Senate is the official record of the activities of the Senate; the Votes and proceedings is the official record of the House of Representatives. They are prepared after each sitting day and are republished at the end of each parliamentary session in bound volumes.

New South Wales

The official records of the NSW Upper House (Legislative Council) are known as the Minutes of the Proceedings (and in their bound volume format they are known as the Journals) ; the records of the Lower House (Legislative Assembly) are known as the Votes and Proceedings.

Green papers and White papers

Green papers are policy discussion papers. They are intended to promote public debate on proposed government policy. They may give details about the policy being promoted, or set out alternative courses of action and show the policy options available.e.g. higher education policy discussion paper

White papers are policy information papers Issued after this period of debate, they set out a policy that has been adopted and the philosophy and reasoning behind it.

These papers are not common with state governments, but have been issued at regular intervals by the Federal Government since the 1970's. (Since 1978, the distinctively coloured covers are no longer used). Federal green and white papers are tabled in Parliament and are published as parliamentary papers and in plain-cover editions.

Note: the words green, white, or policy paper do not always occur in the titles of these papers.

Royal Commissions

The main functions of Royal Commissions are to inform Government. This is achieved either by gathering information to assist in the formulation of policy or by establishing the facts relating to a particular topic. Interim and final reports produced by Royal Commissions as a result of their investigations are tabled before Parliament. Nearly all these reports are released as parliamentary papers.

Final reports that are published as parliamentary papers can be identified through the following source: Borchardt, D.H. Checklist of Royal Commissions, select committees of Parliament and committees of inquiry. Copies are held in the Wollongong Campus Library at the 016.35494/2 call number.

The Wollongong Campus Library also holds many Royal Commission reports catalogued individually according to their subject matter. Search the Catalogue using a Keyword search (use 'royal' as well as keywords from the title of the report), e.g. royal deaths custody

A list of all Australian Government appointed Royal Commissions or Commissions of Inquiry since 1902 is available on the Parliament of Australia website.

Legislation

See the information provided in the Legislation tab in the Law guide.

Other Publications

The Australian journal of politics and history - Published three times a year. The second and last issue of each year includes a POLITICAL CHRONICLE; the second issue covers the last six months of the previous year and the third issue covers the first six months of that year. The chronicle is a summary of events in both the Commonwealth and State Governments.

Commonwealth of Australia Gazette - the official means of notifying other governments and government agencies, as well as the general public, about government actions and decisions.The Gazette in the past was divided into a number of specialised series (e.g. Public Gazette, Business Gazette). Notices in the gazettes cover local government and electoral matters, appointments and vacancies in the Public Service, and other matters depending on the particular gazette.

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