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Wednesday, 8 June 1994
Page: 1503


Senator PANIZZA —I seek leave to ask the chair for an explanation.

  Leave granted.


Senator PANIZZA —Mr Deputy President, I would like you to explain to me how the process of finishing question time operates. Normally the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Gareth Evans) stands up and asks that further questions be put on the Notice Paper, but today I distinctly saw him with his back to the chair at about the time the President called him. I ask you to explain to me whether it is the job of the Leader of the Government to ask that of his own volition or whether it is up to the President to call him to do so when he thinks fit. The previous President left it entirely to the Leader of the Government in the Senate to do so, and if he was asleep or looking the other way we would get another question.


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —I think we both know the answer, Senator Panizza. Your understanding is correct. It is a longstanding convention that question time be for one hour. That is at the pleasure of the Leader of the Government, until such time as there is an order from the Senate. There was a time when question time was unlimited, until the opposition was exhausted. Question time concludes when the Leader of the Government requests that further questions be put on the Notice Paper.