What’s it like to be a Hansard editor?

When a new Hansard editor goes into Parliament’s debating chamber for the first time, it can be quite an experience. The members of Parliament (MPs) are very close to the Hansard table, and there are 121 of them, so it gets loud sometimes, especially during question time.

And no matter what’s being debated, Hansard staff must always keep a straight face—even if an MP tells a good joke. A key principle of Hansard is that it’s non-partisan, so there is no bias towards any party or MP in the House.

When their turn is finished—typically five or ten minutes—editors head downstairs to transcribe each speech from the digital recording. They’ll also refer to notes they made in the chamber—often editors can hear interjections that aren’t caught by the recording system.

By the time the Hansard editor has transcribed and checked the speech, it’s time to go back up to the chamber. Meanwhile the speech is published on the web as a draft transcript. Others in the Hansard team will check and proof the speech before it’s published as the final version. Expert translators help Hansard editors when MPs speak in Te Reo Māori, providing official transcriptions and translations.

For more info on what it's like to work as a Hansard editor, check out this article on The Wireless. Hansard editors are employees of the Office of the Clerk. Find out more about the Office of the Clerk.

Working with other Hansard services overseas

A view of the Solomon Island Debating Chamber. Enlarge image

Solomon Islands Parliament

Source: Solomon Islands Parliament Media

People from Hansard services in other parliaments—especially the Pacific—have similar goals and responsibilities, so we are able to help each other. Our editors and other staff have worked with Hansard services in Fiji, the Solomon Islands, and the Cook Islands.