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Tuesday, 7 October 2003
Page: 20637


Mr KELVIN THOMSON (3:35 PM) —Mr Speaker, in question time on 18 September 2003, you said to the Leader of the Opposition:

I point out to the Leader of the Opposition that the style of answering questions by asking rhetorical questions is not outside the standing orders ...

I would ask that you reconsider this statement on two grounds: firstly, there is no provision in the standing orders for ministers to ask questions. The purpose of question time is for the parliament, on behalf of the nation, to hold the executive accountable; secondly, the asking of questions across the table incites responses which are, in turn, disorderly. This was raised as far back as 1914. The House of Representatives Practice says:

... the Chair has suggested that Members refrain from adopting an interrogatory method of speaking which provokes interjections.

Mr Speaker, I took this up with your predecessor, Speaker Halverson, back in May 1997. He acknowledged in his reply that members should refrain from adopting an interrogatory method of speaking which provokes interjections. It also offends standing order 59 in many cases. Given this, I would ask that you review your statement of 18 September.