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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 2 Hansard (21 February) . . Page.. 477 ..

MR SMYTH: Mr Quinlan, given that you have just confirmed what we have said all along-that there never was an additional $27 million that could be spent in education-where will the money now come from?

MR SPEAKER: Cut the preamble. Resume your seat. We have had the argument about preambles in supplementary questions.

Mr Smyth: Mr Speaker, in what manner was it a preamble? I am just confirming what the minister has just said in his answer. I am asking him to confirm that he said that.

MR SPEAKER: Resume your seat. Are there any further questions?

Mr Humphries: I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. Preambles disqualified in the past have been statements or assertions which are not part of a question.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Humphries, when a member climbs to his feet and starts off a supplementary question with the words "Given that" I think that is a good start to a preamble, and I am not going to allow it. Next question.

Mr Humphries: Mr Speaker, it is the usual courtesy-

MR SPEAKER: I have ruled on the matter. I am not going-

Mr Humphries: You have not heard my submission on the subject, Mr Speaker. I think it is the usual courtesy at least to hear the submission I make before you make your ruling.

MR SPEAKER: I was trying to read your mind. It was pretty open. But go for your life.

Mr Humphries: I am sorry to irritate you, Mr Speaker, on this matter, but it is a fairly important one. It has been the case in the past in this place that statements which are divorced from questions have been ruled to be preambles, in the same way that statements are often made before substantive questions are asked. It is perfectly fair and appropriate in terms of standing orders not to allow such questions.

But it is almost impossible not to have some subject matter within the body of a question. Saying, "Given the minister's previous answer, will you now say this?" or "Given what your colleague Mr Corbell has said, will you now say that?" is a perfectly appropriate question, surely. It contains no preamble whatsoever. To say that a question must be out of order because it includes the words "Given that" is far too broad a generalisation. You did not hear the whole of Mr Smyth's question. With respect, I have seen his question, and I know it does not contain a preamble at all.

Mr Corbell: On the point of order, Mr Speaker: if everything Mr Humphries says were true, he would probably have an argument, but unfortunately he fails to address the substantive part of Mr Smyth's preamble, which is an assertion that Mr Quinlan was agreeing with what the Liberal Party was saying. That was quite an inappropriate preamble to put to the question, and your ruling is entirely appropriate.

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