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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 12 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 3728 ..

MR KAINE: I ask a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. On the basis of your answer, Minister, would it not be the manner in which Ms Follett raised this matter and raised doubts in people's minds that was in fact disgraceful, rather than any action that you took or failed to take?

MR HUMPHRIES: I do not actually blame Ms Follett. I can understand her philosophy about these things. She was the woman who put in place the Wastewatch hotline, which cost taxpayers $74 a phone call - - -

Ms Follett: Mr Speaker, on a point of order, I ask you - and I realise that this may be beyond your wit and wisdom: Is Mr Kaine's question not purely hypothetical? The answer is yes.

Mr Kaine: On that point of order, Mr Speaker: My supplementary question, I submit, was quite in order and I think the Minister is entitled to answer it.

MR SPEAKER: I do not uphold your point of order, Ms Follett. The question is not hypothetical.

Ms Follett: I did not think you would, Mr Speaker.

MR HUMPHRIES: I will not take the point of order, Mr Speaker, about aspersing the Chair which Ms Follett herself has taken in the past plenty of times. I know that she is bristling about this, but the fact is that she herself put in place a Wastewatch hotline which cost taxpayers $74 per phone call. Obviously, she is not a person much concerned about the waste of taxpayers' money in circumstances like this. As a Government, we will attack this kind of poor expenditure when it occurs.

Mr Moore: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think we really have to work question time by the rules. Standing order 117(c)(i) states that questions shall not ask Ministers for an expression of opinion. Mr Kaine clearly said, "Are you the disgraceful one or is Ms Follett the disgraceful one?". It clearly seeks an opinion, and I think it ought to be ruled out of order.

Mr Kaine: Mr Speaker, on that point of order: I did not ask the Minister for an opinion; I asked him for a comment on the matter.

Ms Follett: On the point of order: Mr Speaker, you might care to explain to us why when Mr Kaine asked Mr Humphries a question which related totally to my actions and my motives - a matter for which the Minister has no responsibility whatsoever - you did not rule that supplementary question out of order.

Mr Kaine: On that point of order, Mr Speaker: Clearly, the Minister has a responsibility for the matter that the honourable member raised and he is entitled to comment on it.

MR SPEAKER: I will examine the matter for you, Ms Follett.

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