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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 3092 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

confusion, threw a few grenades across the chamber-not unusual or surprising-then offered to take the question on notice. A week passed, and the question having been asked of the minister again in this place, an answer was finally forthcoming.

But in a supplementary question further information was sought to clarify what was being said, and that question was taken on notice. As of a quarter past six on the final sitting Thursday no answer has been provided to answer that question.

I cannot go out to the electorate with any confidence, and neither can any of my colleagues, and say exactly what the waiting list figures are, even though arguably this has been the subject of intense questioning for the better part of six sitting days.

We had the example of a question being asked of Mr Corbell which essentially he declined to answer. He got up and said, "This question has been answered before" and sat down. Mr Corbell well knows that there is no standing order which prevents a question asked in the Estimates Committee from being asked again on the floor of the Assembly, nor should there be. Members who sit on the Estimates Committee are not the same members who sit in the chamber.

The effect of that, Mr Speaker, is that the level of accountability which this Assembly engineers over government is diminished. Of course, it is acceptable for ministers to use question time to postulate government policy. It is also perfectly acceptable for ministers to have a go at other people, particularly the opposition. I have done it plenty of times. Ministers in this government are doing it, and they are entitled to do it. I make no bones about that.

But embedded in all the rhetoric, criticism, barbs, jokes and gibes there also need to be facts. There also needs to be, I would argue, the answer to some questions. We were promised a higher rigour about question time from this government. If anyone was capable of taking a bird's eye view of what is going on and ask themselves whether they have got higher rigour from this government, the answer would have to be a very clear no.

Snowy River

MRS DUNNE (6.18): Mr Speaker, I want to return to one of my perennial subjects: water. We saw yesterday much chest beating by the premiers of New South Wales and Victoria, premiers Bracks and Carr, the new men from Snowy River, as they congratulated themselves about returning water to the Snowy River. In many ways it was a great day indeed. As someone, I think Peter Garrett, said, it has been a long time between drinks for the Snowy.

We should look at what has happened to the Snowy. What did they do yesterday? After years of lobbying and political influence being brought to bear, to the extent that electors in northern Victoria elected a single-issue candidate to return water to the Snowy, yesterday we returned 3 per cent of the environmental flows to the Snowy River.

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