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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 8 Hansard (5 August) . . Page.. 3508..

MR SPEAKER (continuing):

response it is up to him. He has given you a short response and I cannot do much about that.

Mr Smyth: Mr Speaker-

MR SPEAKER: I have ruled on it.

Mr Smyth: You have the power to compel a minister to answer a question.

MR SPEAKER: No, I do not.

Mr Smyth: You can determine-

MR SPEAKER: No, Mr Smyth. Do not start making the rules up!

Mr Smyth: I am not making the rules up, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: I do not have the power to compel a minister to answer a question. I have the power to sit a minister down if he is not answering the question but it is the prerogative of the minister to answer the question how he wishes. That is a longstanding convention, applied in this and in many other parliaments. I have ruled on the matter.

Mr Smyth: On a different point of order: the standing orders say that a question that has been fully answered cannot be asked again. Would you rule on whether this question has been asked before?

MR SPEAKER: It is not a matter for me. The Chief Minister has responded by saying he has answered the question before. If you do not think he has, that is a matter for you to deal with.

MR PRATT: I have a supplementary question. Chief Minister, is your failure to answer the question-your shyness-an attempt to avoid an issue going to the heart of whether or not you failed in your duties on 17 January 2003 to warn this community about the oncoming bushfire approach?


Child protection

MRS BURKE: My question is directed to the minister for education, youth and family support. I understand that your government has introduced what is known as a "centralised first intake"system for reports of child abuse. My advice is that, under this system, the most urgent cases are supposed to be followed up within 24 hours of being reported, while cases assessed as less urgent are supposed to be followed up within seven days.

Can the minister assure the Assembly that all the child abuse cases reported to her department are being seen within the relevant period of 24 hours or seven days? If your department is not handling all reported cases of child abuse within the specified period, how long is it taking for these reports to be followed up by your department?

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