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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 5 Hansard (14 May) . . Page.. 1187..


QUESTION TIME AND SUB JUDICE CONVENTION
Statement by Speaker

MR SPEAKER: Before I call on questions, I wish to address the Assembly on the conduct of question time in recent sittings of the Assembly and on a matter relating to a question on notice. During the April sittings, and on Thursday, 18 April 1996, in particular, a number of points of order were taken throughout question time. The points of order generally related to two matters - one concerning supplementary questions and the other concerning the answers given to questions.

One point of order was raised by Mr De Domenico in relation to comments made by Ms McRae, who he thought had asked a supplementary question when the Minister had taken the original question on notice. Ms McRae informed the Assembly that in fact she was speaking to a point of order taken by Mr Humphries. However, I would like to clarify the issue of whether a supplementary question can be asked when the principal question has not yet been answered. Standing order 119, relating to supplementary questions, states in part:

Immediately following the oral answer to a question, one supplementary question may be asked by the Member who asked the original question: Provided that the supplementary question is relevant to the original question or arises out of the answer given, ...

I will pause there. The standing orders do not stipulate that a supplementary question can arise only out of the answer given, although this is generally the practice, but provide that it can also be asked if relevant to the original question. Clearly, where a Minister has not been able to answer the original question, a supplementary question still can be asked. Standing order 119 further states:

Provided that the supplementary question ... contains no preamble, introduces no new matter and is put in precise and direct terms.

This part of the standing order relates directly to other points of order taken during the April sitting week. On 18 April 1996 Mr Humphries, on a point of order as Mr Whitecross asked a lengthy supplementary question of Mrs Carnell, asked whether statements were permitted. The standing order leaves no room for doubt or interpretation on this issue. A supplementary question must be asked in precise and direct terms and without a preamble or opening statement. Given the circumstances under which a supplementary question can be asked, there should be no need to extend the latitude of this standing order. The member should have acquainted the Assembly and the Minister of the relevant facts when asking the original question.

The third issue that was raised in April related to whether a supplementary question can ask for the same information as the original question but in a different manner. Mr Kaine took this point of order in relation to Mr Wood, who indicated that he would "ask the question in a slightly different way". I responded at the time that asking the same question may result in the same answer being given. I must remind members that, while standing order 117(h) states that a question fully answered cannot be renewed,


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