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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (8 December) . . Page.. 3993 ..

MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, I am more than willing to provide any information, after asking the Commissioner for Public Administration for that information, but it is not information that flows to Ministers. That is the point I continue to make here. I am happy to find out whatever information Mr Corbell wants, but it is not something that I can take in the Assembly, because it is simply not something that flows to Ministers. That is why those opposite set up a Commissioner for Public Administration under the Act that they put forward in 1994. The purpose was to have a person at arms length from government, at arms length from the Executive, to make decisions with regard to Public Service employment. They created the position. They created an Act under which those sorts of decisions are not made by, or even referred to, Ministers. It is their system. It is also a very appropriate system.

Mr Corbell is very capable of putting questions on notice, I know, because he does. He knows how to do it. Questions that a Minister has no capacity to answer simply because the information would never - - -

Mr Stanhope: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am concerned that what we are hearing here is a statement by the Chief Minister that she will not take questions in this place on anything to do with the Public Service commissioner. I want your ruling on whether, if the Opposition wishes to ask questions about the role and function and responsibilities of the Public Service commissioner, we can any longer do it. The position that is being put by the Chief Minister here today is simply a declaration that the Government will no longer answer questions on the role or responsibility of the Public Service commissioner. In other words, is it worth our while ever again asking a question on the role of that office? It appears to us that what is being said here is that we cannot. I am interested in whether you will rule whether questions in relation to the Public Service commissioner are out of order.

Mr Humphries: Mr Speaker, on the point of order: The Chief Minister has been asked about this matter and is taking the question on notice. She suggested that questions of that kind should be put on notice in the future, but she is answering the question Mr Corbell has asked. She is suggesting that the information he requires or wants can be provided on notice. I have three points I wish to make. First of all, standing order 114 provides that questions may be put to a Minister relating to public affairs with which that Minister is officially connected, to proceedings pending in the Assembly or to any matter of administration for which the Minister is responsible. However, the Chief Minister has indicated that if the matter is put on notice then an answer can be provided.

Mr Berry: One day.

MR SPEAKER: No, Mr Berry. If you read your standing orders, you will find that there are limits to how long questions can stay on the notice paper before they are answered. I would also refer members to standing order 117(h), which states:

A question fully answered cannot be renewed.

We have run through this on a number of days, and I am fast coming to the conclusion that we are now dealing with repetition. Chief Minister, do you wish to continue?

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