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University of Wollongong Australia

Government Information

Other types of government publications

  • Explanatory guides
  • Parliamentary Business and Official Records
  • Green Papers and White Papers
  • Royal Commissions
  • Political Chronicles (summaries of events)

Explanatory guides

The term 'Government publication' covers a wide range of materials.

GovPubs: The Australian Government Publications Guide is an archived but still extremely useful resource that explains the different types of official publications, series that have changed their title over the years (this tends to happen quite often!) and any accompanying official indexes that may be available. Details like these can all be very helpful for you to know when you are trying to track down a harder to find publication.

Another resource especially useful for overviews of older types of publications is 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 business and 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.


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 sources: Borchardt, D.H. Checklist of Royal Commissions, select committees of Parliament and committees of inquiry and The Literature on Royal Commissions, Select Committees of Parliament and Boards of Inquiry held in Australia 1856-1980. Copies of these multivolume sets covering Australia and the individual states are held in the Wollongong Campus' Archives Collection at call number 016.35494/2 and /3 respectively.

The Wollongong Campus Library also holds many Royal Commission reports catalogued individually according to their subject matter. Search 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.

Political chronicles

The Australian journal of politics and history - Published three times a year. The second and last issues 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.

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