Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 4 Hansard (2 April) . . Page.. 1240 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
The fifth inquiry-the Wilson Tuckey spectacular, a select committee of the House of Representatives, eight members of the Liberal and National parties, four members of the Labor Party and a Green, open, public, submissions called for, parliamentary privilege applying, take until after Christmas, all welcome to make submissions, all welcome to appear, all welcome to be examined by the eight members of the Liberal and National parties, the four members of the Labor Party or the Green on every aspect of every fire in Australia.
The sixth opportunity is the inquiry proposed by the Prime Minister-the COAG process. I table the letter from the Prime Minister inviting the ACT's participation in that inquiry and congratulating the ACT on its response to the fires.
Mr Smyth: I take a point of order, Mr Speaker, under standing 118 (a). An answer should be relevant, concise and confined to the subject matter of the question. Nowhere in the question did Mr Pratt talk about the Prime Minister, New South Wales, the standing committee, the Victorian inquiry or any of the other inquiries the Chief Minister chooses to use as a smokescreen. The question was specifically about the Chief Minister's words. I would ask that you direct the Chief Minister to speak about what he said and how he would make that happen, not about what everybody else is doing.
MR SPEAKER: I am not going to direct the Chief Minister or any other minister on how they ought to answer questions or on what the content of their answers ought to be. Mr Pratt raised this issue in the context of an inquiry. It is hard to imagine a situation in which other inquiries in relation to the same event are not relevant to a response from the government. I think it is unreasonable for you to insist that ministers not stray from other inquiries that are occurring into the same matter.
Mr Smyth: Mr Speaker, by your own words, you have just admitted that the Chief Minister is now straying from the subject matter of the question.
MR SPEAKER: I think that is reasonable.
Mr Smyth: I would ask you to bring him back to the point. It is not a matter of whether it is reasonable; it is a matter of whether the standing orders permit it. The standing orders require that he be concise and confine himself to the subject matter of the question. He has not once mentioned the subject matter of the question.
Mr Stanhope: I will get to it.
Mr Smyth: The Chief Minister says, "I will get to it."That is an acknowledgment that he has chosen not to answer the question. I would ask that you direct him to answer the question, Mr Speaker.
Mr Hargreaves: Mr Speaker, Mr Pratt's question went to transparency and accountability. The Chief Minister has been describing those elements with respect to the other inquiries. He has been relevant to Mr Pratt's question.
Mr Pratt: I take a point of order. My question went to the heart of the McLeod inquiry, no other inquiry. Mr Hargreaves is wrong.