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Tuesday, 26 June 1906

Mr JOHNSON (Lang) .- I desire to direct the attention of the Government to a practice which has grown up of late in furnishing answers to questions, and especially to questions put by members on the Opposition side of the House, of using language which is almost discourteous, and of answering some questions, which should be answered fully, with a curt " Yes " or " No." Many of the questions which are asked demand a fuller answer than a direct negative or an affirmative. I should like the Government to request their officers, when furnishing information in answer to questions by honorable members, to be as courteous as possible, and not to confine the answers to a curt " Yes " or " No," unless that is a complete answer to the question put.

Sir William Lyne - Would it not be better for honorable members on the Opposition side to give notice of the questions, in order that they may be completely answered ?

Mr JOHNSON - I am speaking of questions of which notice has been given. I have put several questions on the businesspaper, and have found it necessary to follow them up later on with others, because of the incompleteness of the answers given to them, and sometimes because of direct evasions. The matter is one which affects, not honorable members on this side alone, but in every part of the House, and it also concerns the privileges of honorable members.

Mr Frazer - Perhaps if Ministers, instead of saying "yes" or "no," said " yes-no." the honorable member would be satisfied I

Mr JOHNSON - I am speaking in the interest of all honorable members in bringing this matter forward.

Mr. WEBSTER(Gwydir) [10.31 1- I desire to bring under your notice, Mr. Speaker, a matter which seems to require attention, and that is the editing of the speeches of honorable members before they are published in Hansard. A striking illustration of that occurs in the last number of Hansard, wherein is published the speech of the honorable member for Parramatta, delivered in this House last week on the Supply Bill. He said, in reply to an interjection,- that he had never signed any pledge to any party. That reply was definite and distinct - that he did not sign any pledge to any party. It was made on two occasions, and reported in the daily press. But I find that that reply is not recorded in the Hansard report, and that the method of Mr. Close, in New South Wales, has been adopted here - that the honorable member has no recollection, and that his memory fails. I think that Hansard should be a true record of what is said by the members of this House;- and whatever honorable members may do with regard to altering the verbiage of their remarks, they should not be allowed to take out of a report essential matters that have been openly stated and amplified in speeches in this House.

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