Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 March 2021) . . Page.. 582 ..
and its business. I note that we are almost at a record low in terms of sitting days. There are reasons for that, but if we are in a position where we have fewer sitting days and we are going to spend question time with a whole bunch of dorothy dixers then there is insufficient scrutiny of government through that process.
I also believe that, as happens in other parliaments, should the opposition choose that a member—the shadow minister for health perhaps—wants to ask a whole bunch of questions, they should be entitled to ask them on behalf of the opposition. We should not have to all ask a question each on an area that is not part of our expertise. Again, that degrades the quality of the questioning and the scrutiny of government.
I highlight those issues; they are important. We will bring them forward at a later date, hopefully with some support from our government colleagues who do not mind the scrutiny. Hopefully, they will be prepared to expose themselves to scrutiny rather than just have endless dorothy dixers from their Labor and Greens backbenchers.
MR BRADDOCK (Yerrabi) (11.51): The Greens will be supporting these changes to the standing orders, but I highlight to the Assembly two areas that we anticipate will require further examination in the extensive review of the standing orders that will happen later in this term. Firstly, question time. Although we might not be in 100 per cent alignment with what Mr Hanson has just said about the quality of the Greens’ questions to ministers—we hold that we are asking substantive, constructive questions in this space and will continue to do so—we do need to examine whether question time is working to its maximum effectiveness as an accountability mechanism.
There have been discussions between the parties about how we weigh expert accountability questioning versus democratic equality, with each member in this house having the opportunity to pose a question. That in itself indicates that it requires more considered debate. Hence, we are keen to see that discussed as part of the standing orders review.
I also wish to highlight one part of question time where the practice has not achieved the intent—second supplementaries have rarely yielded new or unique aspects to questions. Some may suggest that questioners need to jump up faster. To this end, I will endeavour to propel my spreading and ageing frame upwards as soon as a minister has finished speaking, to grab that elusive goal—the second supplementary. I only hope that you, Madam Speaker, in your ineffable wisdom, share my faith that the incentive of new, insightful accountability from a second supplementary is not just a figment of standing order possibility but is something achieved in actual practice to reward those MLAs who jump with vim and vigour. I look forward to seeing how this afternoon’s question time goes, but I highlight that this is an area ripe for reform.
Secondly, in moving matters of public importance, I am keen to bring an enhanced level of input from the residents of Canberra. The question has been put why this needs to be done when there are 25 representatives who are all paid to do exactly that, to which I respond with the example of petitions as an area where the performance of members has not met the community expectation. Any resident can submit a petition here to the Assembly. We have a very nice process for petitions—more than one signature and you get a government response. More than 500 signatures and it is