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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (7 May) . . Page.. 1658..


Standing order 118-proposed amendment

MR CORNWELL (4.02): I move:

That this Assembly amends Standing Order 118, in accordance with the Australian Labor Party's Labor's 2001 ACT Election Commitments (page 35, paragraph 8 'We will limit Ministers' answers to Questions to five minutes), by adding a new sub-section (c) shall not be longer than five minutes in length, and amends existing sub-section (b) by adding 'and' after 'refers'.

Mr Speaker, I have heard the comment that promises of opposition are often lies of government. I would not for one moment suggest that I should apply that comment to what has not happened in respect of one of Labor's 2001 ACT election commitments. On page 35 of their policy document they say:

We will limit Ministers' answers to Questions to five minutes.

They go on:

We will ensure question time is treated with respect. While it is undoubtedly a time for point scoring, under Labor there will be no avoidance of questions and no diatribes in response to questions.

If my colleague would just stop laughing for a moment, I would like to get on with the debate. The fact is that that is in the Labor election platform. I am sorry to say that I think whoever drew that up may have been a little enthusiastic as to what could and could not be achieved. The fact is, however, that it is in the platform and it has not been followed.

I have drawn attention to this matter on several occasions. On 16 May last year I pointed out to the Chief Minister that, in spite of this election commitment, on 7 May Mr Quinlan took 51/2 minutes to answer a question; Mr Corbell took seven minutes, and then followed it up with a four minute answer to a supplementary question; and the Chief Minister on the same day took six minutes to answer another question.

On Wednesday 8 May, Mr Stanhope took nine minutes to answer a question from Ms Tucker. On Tuesday 14 May he took another five minutes to answer a question asked by to Mr Stefaniak and then another four minutes on a supplementary. On 14 May he took six minutes to answer Ms Tucker and four minutes on a supplementary. On 15 May, Mr Quinlan took six minutes to answer a question and on the day in question, 16 May, Mr Stanhope took nine minutes to answer a question from the Leader of the Opposition.

I have to say, sadly, that Mr Stanhope, as Chief Minister, rather brushed off my criticisms. The fact is, however, that it is an election promise and I believe it is capable of being implemented. All that is needed is a bit of control. I am sure that most people in this chamber, if they tried hard enough, would join Mr Wood and me in saying what we have to say and sitting down. We seem to be able to get our


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