Keating, Hawke & Howard to return with Australian parliament video on demand

The Australian Department of Parliamentary Services will launch video on demand this year to allow people to see footage from parliament dating back to 1991.

If you miss the days of hearing zingers from former Prime Minister Paul Keating across the chamber, or want to relive the Peter Costello smirk, the Australian Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS) is working to make it happen this year.

Currently, if you want to go back and look at old footage from Question Time, you're reliant on someone having uploaded an old, grainy VHS recording to YouTube. But those days will soon be gone, with DPS planning, by the middle of this year, to launch on-demand video for parliamentary recordings dating back to the latter days of Prime Minister Bob Hawke's era in 1991. DPS chief information officer Eija Seittenranta told ZDNet in an interview that the content would be searchable, and would not only contain all the old broadcasts, but would quickly capture new broadcasts for viewing.

"It captures content from the internal broadcast of parliamentary chambers and committees, and manages the meta data for the content to make sure it is searchable and easily available," she said. "And we've started investigating methods to add captioning to content, near real time, so it meets the accessibility requirements for people who might have hearing difficulties."

The metadata would allow people to search through and find the most interesting parts, rather than having to endure hours of procedural footage just to find that one outburst or memorable passage of legislation.

Seittenranta said that DPS is looking to potentially stop using the often-complained-about Windows Media streaming format for the live broadcasts, and while the department plans to roll out the on-demand service by the middle of the year, ensuring that it is compatible on a number of devices is one factor that is causing it to take longer than expected.

"We're looking at how we can make it available on a broad range of devices," she said. "One of the things we are trying to work through at the moment is how do we do it on devices that don't support Flash. That's some of the things that are causing us to go slower than we would like to, ideally."

Seittenranta was appointed to the new role of CIO for the department at the end of October , after previously working in the Department of Human Services (DHS). Her role was created in response to a review by former public servant Michael Roche.