NZ and Australia practise closer parliamentary relations

The New Zealand and Australian parliaments have demonstrated that closer economic relations apply to more than just the commercial realm.

Australia has allowed New Zealand to implement a system for recording parliamentary proceedings which was developed for the federal government in Canberra. The hansard production system (HPS) was modified for New Zealand’s one-chamber parliament (Australia has a house of representatives and senate), and has been running for several months.

Clerk assistant Wynne Price, who manages reporting services in the Office of the Clerk, says the New Zealand parliament has a licensing agreement with Australia which allows Canberra to use any modifications made to the system. But no money changes hands.

“We were looking for an application that streamlined the delivery and security of our transcription services while being easy to use and allowing efficient and effective maintenance of the system,” Price says. New Zealand parliamentary officials were impressed by the efficiency of the Australian system and asked if it could be used here.

The system was tailored for New Zealand needs by Sydney-based IT services company KAZ Group. It runs on Windows 2000 and integates Office 2000, SQL Server 2000, Filenet, and Dragon Dictate speech recognition software.

Price says the system replaced DOS-based WordPerfect 5.1 and the move to a graphical user interface is providing benefits of itself.

“It’s not just HPS – it also using Windows.”

The system’s two dozen users have become more efficient by being able to switch between windows without having to close applications and using the richer interface of the GUI, Price says.

Hansard reporters aim to get a first cut of the parliamentary proceedings to members within four days.

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