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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 3 Hansard (8 March) . . Page.. 879 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

standing orders of this place. They do everything to avoid answering questions. Their questions are way beyond the reasonable tolerance of standing orders in that they are supposed to be concise.

We had four questions answered this afternoon. In fact, we did not get to hear the full answer to the fourth, and it was approaching over three-quarters of an hour from the beginning of question time. Mr Speaker, that is not concise. It is not consistent with the standing orders, and government members do it deliberately. So I do take offence at the government.

I apologise to you, Mr Speaker. It was in the heat of the moment. I do not know whether the government ought to proceed with their adjournment debate. I am quite happy, if I am the catalyst for some ill feeling, to leave the chamber for the rest of the afternoon anyway. That will solve the problem. But the government may find that it needs my vote on a couple of issues later today so it is entirely up to the manager of government business as to whether he persists with this nonsense or not.

I think some of us in this place are provoked by the government's behaviour. They should be aware of it. Hopefully, after today, they are, and they will stop playing games with question time, use it in the sense meant by the standing orders, and respond to questions by non-government members in a sensible way in accordance with the standing orders, not play some stupid game of evasion or avoiding the question.

I repeat, Mr Speaker: I apologise to you. I am quite happy to withdraw, if that is the wish of the Assembly, for the rest of today's session, or for three hours or whatever the punishment is, but I do think it is an absurdity to adjourn the house when there is serious business before it. If I am the catalyst for all of this I am happy to leave the chamber and let you get on with your business, but it depends on the will of the house, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr Kaine, for your apology. Mr Berry, I have spoken to the Clerk and I think the way to resolve this is to put the question about the adjournment. Perhaps we can speed things up a little. I am not stopping you from speaking, but perhaps the way to resolve this, according to the Clerk, is simply to put the motion for the adjournment and if it is defeated we go on with our business. That is all.

Authority of Speaker

MR BERRY (3.43): Mr Speaker, as the manager of opposition business I need to express briefly the Labor Party's view in relation to this matter.

MR SPEAKER: Then go ahead.

MR BERRY: Mr Speaker, we will be supporting the motion for the adjournment. We think the government has brought this crisis on itself. Its behaviour in question time has been unacceptable for a long time. Mr Speaker, the government has forgotten that it is a minority government. On today's performance I think they have expected far too much loyalty from you as the Speaker, and I think the Speakership has been drawn into this as well.

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