Page 472 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 10 February 2009

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MR SPEAKER: That question is out of order, being a hypothetical.

Economy—stimulus package

MR SMYTH: My question is to the Treasurer. Treasurer, yesterday the opposition received a briefing from your senior officials on the commonwealth government’s stimulus package that included such terms and answers as “guesstimate”, “not sure”, “still working out the detail”, “waiting for the numbers”, “all in the melting pot”, “forming on an hourly basis” and “we don’t know”.

Treasurer, part of the commonwealth’s stimulus package will fund construction of new government school buildings. What will be the impact in terms of recurrent costs of these new buildings on the bottom line of the ACT budget?

MS GALLAGHER: Thank you.

Mr Stanhope: It is hypothetical. That is assuming that the bill passes. That is a hypothetical question, isn’t it?

MR SPEAKER: Mr Stanhope, if you wish to raise a point of order, you need to rise.

Mr Stanhope: Mr Speaker, for the sake of consistency, if a question to the minister for education about the possible impact on schooling in the ACT that asks for the implications or the impact of the passage of a bill is out of order because it is hypothetical, then a question that asks about the recurrent expenditure of the same piece of legislation has to be treated in exactly the same way. It must be ruled out of order.

Mr Smyth: On the point of order, Mr Speaker, firstly, the Chief Minister was not at the briefing, so he does not know what was said. Secondly, at the briefing, at which there were also staff of Greens members, direct numbers were quoted, and the impact of those numbers can, of course, be included in the bottom line. So the question is entirely in order.

Mr Hargreaves: On the point of order, Mr Speaker, whether or not something occurred in the past in a briefing is actually irrelevant. It is the way in which the question is phrased in the house—

Mr Seselja: Yes, and it was phrased differently.

Mr Hargreaves: I am not talking to you, Mr Seselja. I am talking to the Speaker. Mr Speaker, this question is asking for an opinion or a statement of events on an occurrence that has not happened yet. That is the premise of Mrs Dunne’s objection. She was asking for a view on something that had not occurred yet. The same thing applies here. I suggest that we have an inconsistency if this question is allowed to go forward.

MR SPEAKER: My view is that there is no point of order. This ruling relates directly under standing order 114 to a matter with which the minister is officially connected as opposed to speculation about what may or may not pass in the Senate.

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