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Wednesday, 29 March 2006
Page: 83


Mr RUDD (2:51 PM) —My question is again to the Prime Minister. I refer to his previous answer, which did not answer any element of the question that was asked of him. So I repeat the question: can the Prime Minister confirm that the Cole commission does not have the power under the current terms of reference to investigate—


Mrs Bronwyn Bishop —Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. I refer to the standing orders which prohibit a question, having been answered, and answered in full, being asked again. By his own admission, he was repeating the question. He has already had a fulsome answer. It is totally out of order.


The SPEAKER —The member for Mackellar is aware that the member for Griffith has not finished his question. I am listening carefully. I call the member for Griffith.


Mr RUDD —Thank you, Mr Speaker. Given the fact that the Prime Minister’s previous answer did not in fact answer any element of the question that he was asked, can the Prime Minister confirm that Commissioner Cole does not have the power under his current terms of reference to investigate and make findings on whether ministers discharged their responsibilities under Australian domestic regulation and law? Prime Minister, a simple yes or a simple no.


The SPEAKER —Order! In calling the Prime Minister, I say that the member for Griffith would be aware that he cannot demand that answer.


Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —Can I say to the member for Griffith that, in answering his earlier question, I explained what the terms of reference were and what matters they covered. I also explained that, if the commissioner believed that other people, including ministers, had broken the law, he would ask for an extension of the terms of reference and those terms of reference would be granted. I do not know how more complete my answer could be.