Page 3540 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 12 September 2017
order, but the issue of the AAA credit rating is on the notice paper and has been listed for debate tomorrow. I wonder whether, in light of that, a question about the AAA credit rating is out of order, given the reasonable time rule that is in the anticipation debate.
MADAM SPEAKER: I understand there have been interest in and comments about rates this morning. Is there not a motion on the notice paper for tomorrow about rates?
Mrs Dunne: That is my point.
MADAM SPEAKER: As I understand it, the question from Mr Coe was around rates, and there is a motion on rates tomorrow in private members’ business. So the same rule would apply.
Mrs Dunne: Quite possibly. I do not know that this is something you necessarily would need to rule on now but perhaps it is something to reflect upon. There has been some change in thinking in the Assembly about this. If people are asking questions today about something which is clearly on the notice paper for tomorrow, and that applies across the board, it is something to think about.
MADAM SPEAKER: It is a point I will take.
MR BARR: On the point of order, Madam Speaker, in the 11 years I have been in this place the interpretation of the standing orders has certainly evolved from what was a very strict rule that you could not even go near the subject area to a much more liberal—with a small “l”—approach to these issues. That is why we did not raise a point of order in relation to Mr Coe’s question which related to a matter that he himself put on the notice paper for tomorrow. Obviously you will need to reflect on these matters but, from the government’s perspective, I do not think that a very strict interpretation of that standing order assists in the free flow of debate in the Assembly. The practice that has more recently evolved gets the balance right.
MADAM SPEAKER: Thank you. I think that was part of my comment as well—that there were questions that were already reflected. The members have had discussions with their whip about reviewing standing order 117 and getting some clarity about that, and about 118, so we can throw 59 into the mix. But this question will be asked and answered.
MR BARR: Thank you Madam Speaker. The benefits of maintaining a AAA credit rating—
MADAM SPEAKER: We can mark 12 September as the funniest day, I think.
Opposition members interjecting—
MR BARR: I can generally predict the opposition’s questions too.