Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 10 Hansard (Tuesday, 12 September 2017) . . Page.. 3556 ..
Answers to questions on notice
Questions 358, 361 and 363
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra): In accordance with standing order 118A, I ask the Minister for Health and Wellbeing for an explanation as to the lateness of answers to questions on notice which were due on 3 September: that is, question 358, which relates to the flu season; question 361, which relates to the Canberra Hospital Medihotel; and question 363, the answer to which I received during question time today, which was nine days late. I ask for an explanation as to why these three questions on notice were not answered in the time frame set out in the standing orders.
MS FITZHARRIS (Yerrabi—Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Minister for Transport and City Services and Minister for Higher Education, Training and Research): Yes, our answer to 363 was signed off this morning; I do apologise for that. I wanted to provide a full answer to Mrs Dunne, and I have asked ACT Health for more information so that I can provide that to her. I expect that will be with me by the end of this week.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (3.37): In accordance with standing order 118A(c), I remind members that the standing order says that if a member cannot answer a question within 30 days, the member has the option of making that explanation to the member beforehand. In accordance with standing order 118C, I move:
That the Assembly take note of the Minister’s failure to provide an answer to questions on notice Nos 358, 361 and 363 in the time provided for by the standing orders.
Madam Speaker, this is an ongoing issue for members of the opposition. We come to the beginning of a sitting period and there are a number of questions. I have five questions outstanding as of this morning, and I will get to the others in a minute. The answer is often, “I have just signed something off,” or “I am trying to get a better answer.” But the standing order is quite clear: a member has 30 days to answer the question and if the member cannot answer the question in 30 days they have a responsibility to make an explanation to the member who has asked the question, essentially asking for an extension. Or this Assembly has the option of taking note of the failure to answer. This is an opportunity for the Assembly to note that a series of questions have not been answered within the statutory time frame. It is a very simple motion.
MR BARR (Kurrajong—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development and Minister for Tourism and Major Events) (3.38): Whilst all ministers in this place go to great lengths to answer questions from members, many of those questions are multifaceted and involve an extraordinary amount of work. I would not want to even begin to quantify the dollar cost associated with answering questions on notice, because that element—
Mr Coe: The cost of democracy.