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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 29 June 2010) . . Page.. 2722 ..

MS BURCH: What I will do is go to the fact that last year we put in 666 places; this year there will be over 450 places.

Mrs Dunne: Mr Speaker, on a point of order, Mr Coe asked a very direct question. Would the minister correct the record and apologise for misleading us—we do not want to know about how many childcare places there were this year; we know the figures. There was a very direct question: did she mislead the Assembly and, if so, did she apologise? She has to answer the question directly.

MR SPEAKER: I think the nature of the question, in which Mr Coe has made a level of accusation, invites the minister to provide some context.

Mrs Dunne: Mr Speaker, on the point of order, standing order 118A says the answer has to be directly relevant to the question.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, but I think, as I said, Mrs Dunne, the nature of Mr Coe’s question was to level an allegation at the minister. The minister surely has some latitude to try to answer that allegation.

Mrs Dunne: Sorry, on the point of order, the allegation from Mr Coe was: did she mislead the Assembly.

MR SPEAKER: Are you expecting a yes or no answer, Mrs Dunne?

Mrs Dunne: And therefore, yes, I do expect a yes or no answer. And if the answer is a yes answer, it should be immediately followed by an apology.

MR SPEAKER: Minister Burch, would you like to just answer the question?

Mr Corbell: Mr Speaker, on a point of order, I simply make the observation that ministers cannot be directed how they answer a question, as long as they remain consistent with the standing orders.

MR SPEAKER: This is all relatively clear: I have ruled that Mrs Dunne does not have a point of order. Minister Burch, you have the floor.

Mr Smyth: Mr Speaker, on a point of order, just in response to Mr Corbell, referring to standing orders 118A and 118B, 118A says “shall be concise and directly relevant to the subject of the matter” and 118B says “shall not debate the subject to which the question refers”.

MR SPEAKER: I said “consistent with the standing orders”.

Mr Smyth: The minister is actually debating, by moving away from the direct question. The questioning has been: were there, as she said, 110 new positions, or were they simply relocations? If they are relocations, they are not new and therefore she should apologise and correct the record. It is very simple, Mr Speaker, under your standing orders.

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