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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 2 Hansard (27 February) . . Page.. 340..


MS FOLLETT (continuing):

It is now two months since the Chief Minister first advised me that this question would take some time to answer. My view is that two months is quite long enough. It is a long way from being an extremely complex question. I have seen many other complex questions - indeed, Ms McRae has one now - that will clearly take a long time to answer. I have asked questions to which the Government's response has been, "We are not going to answer it because the resources required would outweigh the public benefit in answering that question", and I have accepted that. I do not make a habit of asking unreasonable questions, but I do not think the Government should make a habit of taking an unreasonably long time to answer any member's question.

I believe that this question is reasonably straightforward. The Government has had three months to answer it, and I believe that I am well within my rights in asking the Assembly to support me in my request for an answer to that question. We have seen debates in this place previously about a member's right to information. Indeed, it was the Assembly members' own action that brought into being standing order 118A, which put time limits on government responses to questions. We were in government at the time, and I do not believe that we opposed this provision either.

I believe that the request I have made is in every way reasonable. Mrs Carnell's last contact with me on the matter was on 28 December, so she has had two months since begging for more time to address the question. In my view, the question should have been answered. There is nothing complex about it. It is merely a matter of checking records, checking financial data for a period which is now some three months past. I do not accept Mrs Carnell's explanation - indeed, she has not made an explanation - of why the question has not been answered, and I believe that I am within my rights in requiring that it be answered today.

Mr Humphries: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I draw your attention to the wording of standing order 118A, which provides in relation to an explanation for a question on notice not being answered within 30 days:

(a) at the conclusion of questions without notice on any day after that period, that Member may ask the relevant Minister for such an explanation;

Ms Follett: I have done that.

Mr Humphries: This has occurred, indeed. It continues:

(b) the Member may, at the conclusion of the explanation, move without notice "That the Assembly takes note of the explanation";

She has not done that.

Ms Follett: I do not have to do that.


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