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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 10 Hansard (4 September) . . Page.. 3042..

Statement by Speaker

MR SPEAKER: Following question time last Tuesday, Ms Horodny asked a question of Mr Humphries under standing order 118A. She sought an explanation concerning an answer to a question on notice that had taken 58 days to answer. At the time of asking the question Ms Horodny indicated that she had already received an answer and, following a comment from Mrs Carnell, I ruled that a question could not be asked under standing order 118A. My recollection of the initial adoption of this standing order was that it was proposed as a means of encouraging the timely provision of answers to questions that were placed on the notice paper.

I have considered the matter and reread the standing order. I am now of the view that standing order 118A does allow a member to seek an explanation after 30 days has elapsed, even if the member has received the answer. However, if a Minister is unable to provide an answer within the 30 days and provides an explanation satisfactory to the member who asked the question within that period, then a request for an explanation under standing order 118A will not be permitted.

Statement by Speaker

MR SPEAKER: Last Thursday Ms Follett took a point of order concerning a ruling I had made in relation to a personal explanation made by Ms Tucker. Ms Follett asked that if I have a particular interpretation of what constitutes a matter of a personal nature it would be a good idea to advise the Assembly of such a decision in due course.

Personal explanations are made pursuant to standing order 46. Provided that no other member is addressing the Assembly, the member wishing to make a personal explanation obtains the leave of the Chair, not the Assembly, to explain a matter of a personal nature. The member must not debate the matter. Members may recall that on 21 February this year I made a statement concerning the operation of standing orders 46 and 47. It is of interest to note that in certain other jurisdictions - the Australian Senate and the New Zealand House of Representatives - it is necessary to obtain the leave of the house, not the Chair, before a personal explanation can be made. House of Representatives Practice states:

In making a personal explanation, a Member must not debate the matter and may not deal with matters affecting his or her party or, in the case of a Minister, the affairs of the Minister's department; the explanation must be confined to matters affecting the Member personally. A Member cannot make charges or attacks upon another Member under cover of making a personal explanation.

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