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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (7 August) . . Page.. 2475 ..

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, the government is committed to seeing the WAT plates used appropriately. That is the purpose of them: they are there to look after those who need a wheelchair accessible taxi. Our dilemma is that Canberra Cabs have been failing to direct those cabs, which has resulted in their not being able to meet the requirements as set out in the agreement, and Yellow Cabs have said that they will physically direct drivers of the nearest wheelchair accessible cab to answer these calls, which was the intention of issuing the extra plates.

Mr Humphries: I ask that all further questions be placed on the notice paper.

Answers to questions on notice

MR KAINE: Mr Speaker, under standing order 118A (a), I ask the Minister for Business, Tourism and the Arts for an explanation as to why he has failed to answer questions taken on notice. To recapitulate, on 14 June I asked the minister questions about the GMC400 car race. He took those questions on notice, and the fact that he took them on notice is recorded in the Hansard for that day. In accordance with standing order 118A (a), the minister should have responded to those questions by the middle of July. As of today, he has failed to do so. I gave him another opportunity to answer them during question time, and his comment boiled down to the fact that he would give me the answers at some unspecified time in the future.

Mr Speaker, I submit that the minister is in breach of our standing orders, and I would like an explanation from him as to why he has chosen not to answer my questions, given that this is a matter of public concern. Some $23 million worth of public money has been injected or will be injected into this event, and I think the people are entitled to know the outcome, financially, of each annual event. I would like an explanation from the minister first of all of why he did not answer my question at the due time and, secondly, of why he continues to refuse to answer.

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I am happy to reiterate what I said in my answer to the question, which Mr Kaine obviously failed to hear. I did take the question on notice and, as soon as I have the final, accurate, audited figures, I will table them in this place. I expect to do so before the end of this sitting period, but I cannot give Mr Kaine something I do not have.

MR KAINE (3.38): The minister has again declined to answer and merely says he will answer at some time in the future, which is not his prerogative under the standing orders. I move:

That the Assembly takes note of the explanation.

The minister has had ample opportunity to respond to these questions, and it is not as though the matter is trivial. It is not trivial; it involves a great deal of public money. The minister is obligated under our standing orders to answer a question that he took on notice. Presumably he took those questions on notice knowing that there was a responsibility on his part to respond to them.

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