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Mr Berry: What about an unequivocal commitment that no library service will close?

Mr Hird: You are not listening, Wayne.

Mr Berry: I would not mind a direct answer to the question.

MRS CARNELL: I just did.

Mr Berry: This is an important issue for people in the community and young children who need to get access to these libraries. They want an unequivocal position on this issue.


Mr Hird: I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. I would remind Mr Berry that he is making a statement on the point of order.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Berry, as you are well aware, Ministers answer questions as they choose to.

Ms McRae: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: There is a directive in the standing orders which says that Ministers shall answer questions. This parliament is under your control, and your hiding under what may or may not have been done in previous parliaments is simply hype. This is a different point of order. With the greatest of respect, you are now the Speaker. The standing orders require that Ministers answer questions. Mr Berry is asking for an answer to a question. I think it is about time we got some answers.

MR SPEAKER: Order! I would also remind members of standing order 117(c), which says that questions shall not ask Ministers to announce Executive policy.

MRS CARNELL: I am very happy to answer the question again if that would be easier. We have given a direction that library hours and services will not be cut, but we will make them more efficient. We will ensure that the services are available to the people of Canberra in a better way and we will ensure that information technology is used more efficiently to link our libraries.

Budget Deficits

MR KAINE: Mr Speaker, I address a question to the Chief Minister and Treasurer. Chief Minister, your budget this year is in a new format. It uses the GFS format.

Ms Follett: Yes, incomprehensible.

MR KAINE: For those uninitiated, including the former Treasurer, that is the government finance statistics format. Chief Minister, using the new methodology, you are forecasting a $44m deficit this fiscal year. Can you tell us how that deficit compares with previous deficits, say, over the last five years, if those deficits were converted to the same format for a direct comparison?

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