Parliamentary papers include reports from government departments, Royal Commissions, Committees of Inquiry and other documents which have been presented to a Parliament and then ordered by Parliament to be printed. Each Australian Parliament (Commonwealth, State and Territory) publishes parliamentary papers and each has their own system for organising and numbering them.
Each year thousands of papers are tabled in the various parliaments of Australia. Most are not ordered to be printed. Those papers that are tabled but not ordered to be printed are listed in the 'proceedings' or 'journal' of the parliament concerned which are usually bound with the printed papers. Copies of papers 'not printed' can usually only be viewed at the relevant Parliament.
The Library holds a facsimile collection of British Parliamentary Papers concerning Australia. They provide valuable historical sources on penal settlement in Australia as well as early correspondence relating to South Australia including the Colonization Commissioner's early reports.
A complete set of Parliamentary Papers of South Australia is available in the Government Publications Collection. Indexes are found in the first annual volume of each session. Current Session Papers and some Tabled Papers and Petitions from 2001 onwards are now available online.
Collections of indexes for the South Australian Parliamentary Papers are held at the Information Desk, and on the website of the Parliament of South Australia.
The House of Assembly Digest (1967-2013) which indexes Parliamentary papers, Bills, and Petitions is located at the end of the SA Bills in the Government Publications area.
Papers produced annually retain the same number from year to year with any non-serial papers fitted into any gaps. There is an alphabetical list of agencies and associated paper numbers in the front of the Index to Papers and Petitions. Note: the Auditor-General's report has become so large that since 1986 it has been shelved separately at the end of the sequence. It is not bound with the annual volumes.
Commonwealth Parliamentary Papers include Royal Commissions reports, committee reports, Annual reports of Departments and agencies, Budget papers and White Papers (statements of government policy on significant matters).
Papers dating back to 1901 can be found on the website of the Australian Parliamentary Library as part of their Parliamentary Papers Series. They can be searched by keyword and browsed by year or Parliamentary session. (See also Royal Commissions and commissions of enquiry and Treasury Budget papers.)
Hard copy versions of Commonwealth Parliamentary Papers dating from 1901 to 2016 can be located on the State Library catalogue and retrieved by year. Hard copies of Parliamentary Papers from 2017 onwards have not been retained.
Each Commonwealth Parliamentary Paper is allocated a number. The first paper of each Commonwealth Parliamentary session is allocated number 1, and subsequent papers are numbered serially. Hence the Annual reports of Commonwealth Departments will usually have different numbers each year, unlike the South Australian departmental annual reports which tend to keep the same numbers.
The following indexes to Commonwealth Parliamentary Papers are available on open access:
Indexes from 1996/97/98 onwards can be found online.
The Library has collections of Parliamentary Papers for each State, but most of these are incomplete. Holdings for Tasmania are very incomplete. Holdings can be checked on the GovPubs website (Please note this page is no longer updated and may contain out of date information.). Most interstate parliamentary papers are now held offsite and can be retrieved within three days. Ask at the Information Desk for assistance.
Parliamentary Papers relating to the Northern Territory during the years it was administered by South Australia are held in South Australiana periodicals Parliamentary Papers etc relating to the Northern Territory, 1861-1909.
Parliamentary Papers for the States and Territories may also available on the Internet. (Archived date ranges can vary)