Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 10 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 3810..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
within shorter and shorter periods of time. That is just something to reflect on and something that we may need to think about down the track.
That being said, the government will be supporting these changes. I did give consideration to having a time limit in terms of the operation of these changes and a period for review—six months, 12 months or something like that. That is difficult in the context of how the standing orders are drafted. I would simply say that the government does see this very much as a trial. Even though there will not be any formal provision for revision in the standing orders, we would like to give this a reasonable go over the next six to 12 months. If there are problems, I would foreshadow that the government would want to come back and ask the Assembly to address any problems that were identified.
That said, Madam Deputy Speaker, the government welcomes the proposals and we will be supporting the motion.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (11.49): The Canberra Liberals will be supporting Mr Rattenbury's proposal. I thank Mr Rattenbury for the courtesy with which he dealt with this matter and the proposals for innovation to make question time more effective in the ACT Legislative Assembly.
As I said, the Canberra Liberals will support this. We see it as an innovation worth trying, but we will also be watching to ensure that it has the intended effect. In responding to Mr Rattenbury's letter to me in relation to these amendments, I said that it would be appropriate for the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure to review them, as we should always be doing, keeping in mind the extent to which the standing orders are alive. But this is an innovation. At the end of this sitting year, perhaps we should look at it and then keep it under observation. If it needs to be tweaked, we should be prepared to tweak it. That being said, we are happy to support this amendment.
MS HUNTER (Ginninderra—Parliamentary Convenor, ACT Greens) (11.50): As we know, question time is a central part of the process of holding members in the Assembly accountable in the discharge of their duties—particularly, obviously, the executive. However, as members in this place know, sometimes question time as it operates here can be less than satisfactory. We can have short replies that contain little information or seek to evade the question, or we can have political attacks on opponents or talking up achievements in the minister's portfolio.
The essential elements of a good question time include the opportunity to ask supplementary questions; that time limits are applied; and the opportunity for all members in the Assembly to ask questions. This is the situation in our Assembly. I am pleased that we are not in the same position as the New South Wales parliament, where there are no time limits for ministers in answering questions. Mr Rattenbury visited there recently; he was telling me that he went to a question time where he heard only three questions answered in a 45-minute period. I am sure we would all agree that that is not a situation we would like to see here in the Assembly.
The Greens agree that we need to continue to look at improvements in making this crucial democratic process of accountability in the Assembly even better. That is why