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How do you moderate comments?

Ideally, we won't. If everyone keeps to the House Rules, that is. But we're not naive enough to think that life online is that simple. OpenAustralia.org operates a 'reactive moderation' policy. We will only check whether a comment breaches our House Rules if someone lets us know of their concerns via the 'Report this Comment' link, which can be found next to every comment. If we decide that the comment has breached our House Rules, we will delete it and let the original author know via email. We will also give them opportunity to rephrase and resubmit their orginal comment. If we deem the comment to be legit, we'll leave it up, and email the complainant to let them know why. We will do our utmost to respond to reports of potential breaches of our House Rules within forty-eight hours, but please bear in mind that this service is run by volunteers, and sometimes it might take us slightly longer.

Is this the whole of Hansard?

Not quite. This is everything in the Hansard for the House of Representatives and the Senate excluding written questions, petitions, and the divisions (voting) and so far goes back to the beginning of 2006. It also does not include committees. Think of what we've done thus far as a mere taster of what could be possible. If you want the complete, definitive record, go to the Australian Parliament site, and you might be able to find what you want.

What is your Privacy Policy?

Our Privacy Policy is very simple:

1. We guarantee we will not sell or distribute any personal information you share with us

2. We will not be sending you unsolicited email

3. We will gladly show you the personal data we store about you in order to run the website.

What is your Cookie Policy?

We use cookies to save you from having to repeatedly log in to the site, and also to remember your electoral division. The site will work with cookies disabled, but it won't be as good.

What's that weird 'urchin' javascript I spy in your page source?

We use Google Analytics to track aggregated traffic through the website. It captures nothing that you won't find in an Apache logfile, but has an interface we like, and is dead easy to use. Rest assured, we only track usage data for one reason only: to help us understand how we can make the site work better for you lot. If anyone wants to whinge about 'Web Bugs', expect short shrift.

What is RSS?

RSS files contain information about a list of things: diary entries, speeches, etc. and are formatted to be readable by computer programs, rather than humans. So what use are they? You can use a program called a news reader to store the locations of RSS feeds, and each time one is updated - with new diary entries or speeches - you can easily see what's new. It saves you visiting web pages on the off-chance anything new has appeared. Popular RSS readers are Sharpreader for Windows or NetNewsWire Lite for Macs. Bloglines and Google Reader are online RSS readers.

How is the voting record decided?

The voting record is not affected by what MPs and Senators have said, only how they voted in relation to that topic in the house - i.e. "aye" or "no". Votes on each topic were examined, and strength of support determined based on these votes. Follow the "votes" link next to each topic for details.

Why should I read in more depth than just the numbers?

A few people have asked why we publish statistics on how often Representatives use alliterative phrases, such as "she sells seashells".

Simply put, we realise that data such as the number of debates spoken in Parliament means little in terms of a Representative's actual performance. Representatives do lots of useful things which we don't count yet, and some which we never could. Even when we do, a count doesn't measure the quality of a Representative's contribution.

On the UK site TheyWorkForYou, they used to publish absolute rankings of, for instance, the most verbose MPs. Then, they were hearing from real MP's researchers who admitted to tabling questions to increase their boss' rankings. So, TheyWorkForYou became concerned about the use of these statistics

We've followed their lead by doing two things. We have silly statistics, to catch your attention. And we don't have absolute rankings. Instead of saying a Representative is exactly 5th for giving out verbiage in the chamber, we just say that they are "well above average".

Our advice — when you're judging your Representative, read some of their speeches, check out their website, even go to a local meeting and ask them a question. Use OpenAustralia as a gateway, rather than a simple place to find a number measuring competence.

If you have other suggestions for useful metrics, send them to the usual address. We have a few ideas ourselves to keep you on your toes.

Do you have the data as a spreadsheet file, XML or in an API?

Yes. If you just need a spreadsheet of representatives, you'll find one on the right hand side of this page. If you need a full-blown API (Application Programming Interface), which gives you the power to do almost anything with our data, we have that too. We also give you direct access to the XML data which gets loaded into our database.

Please mail us if you want help working out how to use the data, or want to hire us to make something specific for you.

What is the Register of Interests and how can I use it?

The Register of Interests contains information of financial interests, stocks and shares held, gifts received over a certain value, and memberships of Clubs and Associations for Senators and Representatives. These are the things that have been considered to be a potential influence on their behaviour in Parliament.

Find out more at the Senate Standing Committee of Senators' Interests and the Standing Committee of Privileges and Members' Interests.

You might also be interested in a searchable database of the register, compiled by SMH. Note that this was created in 2012 and may not be up to date.

Why are there two Register of Interests links for some MPs?

In early 2009, OpenAustralia.org was the first to publish the important Register of Interests online. We're happy to say that Australian Parliament House now publishes this register online themselves.

That's also why you'll see two links on some MP pages. One links to the latest entry from parliament house and the other links to the last update that was sent to us. You should only ever need the latest copy from Parliament house, but you never know so we've kept our (older) copy available too.