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Friday, March 20
Dont change Hansard
In "Joyce to be grilled on Grimes sacking" (AFR, March 16) Laura Tingle reports Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce will come under concerted parliamentary attack from Labor over the sacking on Friday of Mr Joyce's department head, after he apparently sought to insist that his department not be implicated in a misleading of Parliament. This all began as a rewriting of Hansard of an answer given by Mr Joyce in Parliament which has now spread to a much broader controversy after Dr Grimes' appointment was terminated by Mr Abbott on Friday. In this respect, Joe Fitzgibbon is also seeking a broader inquiry into the practice of rewriting the Hansard record in recent years. But what begs the question is why the tradition continues in the first place,which allows Ministers and MPs seven days to make minor changes to the Hansard record, inviting a subjective judgement.
Imagine a court allowing subsequent amendments to be made to the court transcript of what was said during a trial, which is often relied upon in further proceedings.
Hansard also needs to record exactly what was said, regardless of poor grammar, unintended omissions or references. The protocol of issuing a revised statement by the Minister to correct any omissions or unintended inaccuracies, should always be followed, which may have avoided the spectacle of the termination of Dr Grime's tenure.