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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (7 August) . . Page.. 2468 ..

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, she raised other issues in the course of her question. It has never been the rule in question time that you cannot respond to the other issues raised, and that is what I am doing. It has happened every day that we have had question time in this place since you have been a member, Ms Tucker. I am sure you have noticed that fact. If I am required only to answer the questions that are asked of me then, with great respect, people should not ask questions with other things in them.

Ms Tucker: On that point, Mr Speaker, it is also my understanding under standing order 118 (a), and we had a discussion about this in the Administration and Procedure Committee, that the answer shall be concise and confined to the subject. I am trying to make that point because-

MR SPEAKER: Yes, but at the same time I have ruled repeatedly that you cannot ask a question and demand a yes or no answer from a minister.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, your predecessor, Ms McRae, made it very clear that "concise" does not mean short. It simply means to the point. I am answering directly to the point of the issues raised by Ms Tucker and saying that I think the people of this community are sophisticated enough and educated enough to be able to understand, at least between now and 20 October, what these issues mean for them and their community and make a considered balanced view about them. I am a small "d" democrat at heart. I believe in the capacity of people to make decisions on these matters. I will respect the judgment that the people pass on these issues if they are given the chance.

MS TUCKER: My supplementary question is this: Mr Humphries, have you sought advice on how such push polling can corrupt any future referendum on the same question? If so, what was that advice? If you have not sought that advice, why not?

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, the government is in the process of putting to the Legislative Assembly what it wants to do about these issues. On Thursday the Attorney-General will present a bill to allow for a referendum. The form of questions that will be put to the people if the referendum is approved is in the bill. I think it is in clauses 7 and 8 of the bill. Ms Tucker asked me in the first question what the questions are going to be. Well, she saw them if she bothered to read today. If she believes it is push polling, then she should support the legislation and amend it to make sure it does not amount to push polling. Ms Tucker, like the Labor Party, has said, "We don't believe in this. We are not going to support this, so we are going to step aside-

Ms Tucker: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: seriously, I do not think Mr Humphries heard my question. Am I allowed to repeat it?

MR SPEAKER: Mr Humphries understood the question.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, we will put to the Assembly the questions we propose to ask. If they amount to push polling at the end of day it will be because the Assembly determines that that should be the case. I am confident that this Assembly can make a rational decision about these matters, and I am even more confident that the people of this city can make a rational decision about the issues if they are put before them in the form of a referendum.

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