Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 4 Hansard (2 May) . . Page.. 1030..
MR SPEAKER (continuing):
In applying the standing order, it would not be in the public interest to rule a question out of order merely because its subject matter coincided with that of a committee inquiry. I do, however, believe that I have a responsibility to ensure that matters raised in evidence are not used in the Assembly to pre-empt committee deliberations.
To balance the competing needs of public interest and safeguarding committee deliberations, I intend to allow questions which only coincidentally refer to matters which are the subject of a committee inquiry. The appropriate practice is to allow questions seeking information on public affairs for which there is ministerial responsibility, provided that such questions are not of a nature which may attempt to interfere with a committee's work or anticipate its report. For example, I will not allow questions which refer to evidence taken in camera, nor will I allow questions relating to evidence not yet authorised by a committee, nor will I allow questions which speculate on potential findings by a committee.
I will, therefore, continue to rule any question out of order which, and whether intentional or not, in my opinion is framed in such a way that it has the potential to adversely affect the operations of committees. This is subject, of course, to whatever course of action the house might in its wisdom wish to adopt in relation to this matter.
In framing questions I request members to give consideration to this statement so as to avoid potentially disruptive calls for my approval for the rephrasing of questions on the floor which may lead to disorder because of, firstly, the undesirable inconvenience and, secondly, the unnecessary interruption to business this can cause the house, not to mention the unintended consequences of a hastily redrafted question without notice.
Mr Smyth was invited by me to rephrase the question and did so in a form which did not directly refer to the unreported proceedings, therefore "merely coinciding in subject matter with current committee inquiries", as stated on page 540 of House of Representatives Practice. I table the following paper:
Letter from Mr Smyth (Leader of the Opposition) to the Speaker, dated 31 March 2006.
Sitting suspended from 12.14 to 2.30 pm.
Questions without notice
Budget—functional and structural review
MR SMYTH: My question is to the Treasurer. Treasurer, as we know, the budget is set to report a series of deficits over the next few years. Has the government received any advice that the latest estimates show the deficit expanding out to $190 million in the outyears?
MR STANHOPE: No, I do not believe it has. I thank the Leader of the Opposition for the question. Certainly it is the case, as members are obviously aware, that the government has been deliberating and continues to deliberate on the budget, which will be delivered by me on 6 June. In the context of that, the government is seeking, of course, to address issues identified in the midyear review in relation to predictions—if