Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (18 November) . . Page.. 4236 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
tussle about standing orders? I am just interested to know what it actually means for the capacity of people to ask questions and get answers if there is a tussle on standing orders, which quite often happens. It can be an important question that I would have thought the Assembly would want to hear the answer to.
Mrs Dunne: I think question 3 on 21 October did in fact involve a long tussle on standing orders.
MS TUCKER: Mrs Dunne is interjecting. Maybe we could give her leave to speak again, because I am seriously interested, if she understands this.
Mr Hargreaves: No, I will do it in my close.
MS TUCKER: I will listen, but I am inclined to not support it, because I just think the process is bad. Also, I do not understand what this actually means-what that 11 minutes meant and what that eight minutes meant, when all the other answers were in fact under three minutes. It seems a rather unnecessary overreaction, but I will listen to Mr Hargreaves.
MR HARGREAVES (5.04), in reply: The reason I have moved that the report be adopted is that it is a very straightforward piece of machinery, and it goes like this. Standing order 118, on page 25 of this beautiful booklet with the lilac cover that we have been given so generously by the chamber support, says:
The answer to a question without notice:
(a) shall be concise ...
(b) shall not debate the subject to which the question refers,
To that we are adding a new subsection (c) which says:
(c) shall not be longer than five minutes in length.
Ms Tucker: Does that include interjections and standing orders?
MR HARGREAVES: This is how it will happen in practice. People can in their preamble talk for a cubic fortnight and then eventually get to the actual question. Under this change, the minister will rise to answer the question and-click!-the clock up the back here will start. And that will just run, interjections or none. It then will be up to the minister whether they want to use up their time addressing interjections or they want to totally ignore the interjections.
Ms Tucker: The Speaker has to deal with interjections and points of order.
MR HARGREAVES: Nonetheless, it ticks down-and after two minutes the gong will go, and people will understand that the minister has to stop. This has been in response to people saying that what we have had has been a rabbiting-on preamble and then people have just run the clock down and gone for it. That is what happens, and it has happened in the past. There is nothing in my view to misunderstand about this: you either like it or you do not. If you do not like it, do not vote for it. If you do like it, vote for it. If you do not care, vote for it.