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Tuesday, 18 August 2009
Page: 5166

Senator FERGUSON (12:38 PM) —In the broad, I support all of the statements that you have made in this statement to the chamber but I would also refer to the second to last paragraph and I ask you to consider two things. One is that the statement that was made by President Beahan in 1995 was actually made prior to standing orders being changed. At that time a minister was only required to be relevant, whereas standing orders have been changed now to require ministers to be directly relevant. So I am not sure that President Beahan’s statement carries weight today in the same way that it did prior to the standing orders being changed.

Mr President, the only other issue that I raise—and this relates to the current state of the chamber—is that I noticed in the last paragraph that you said you draw senators’ attention to the question and you sometimes ask them to return to the question while reminding them of the time they have available to answer it. Can I respectfully suggest that prior to the addition of the digital clocks in this chamber a minister had no idea how much time they had left to answer a question. Because all they had was a light on in the last minute, nobody knew how much time they had left. Since the addition of digital clocks in the chamber, which ministers can look up at and see exactly how many minutes or seconds they have left, it might not be necessary to remind ministers of the time that they have available. By simply glancing up at a clock in the chamber they know how much time they have left. I respectfully ask you to consider that as well.

Question agreed to.

The PRESIDENT —In respect of the matters that have been raised I will take those into further consideration and if needs be I will come back to the chamber.