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Wednesday, 10 February 1999
Page: 2349

Mr KERR —I have a question for you, Mr Speaker. This is a very small matter but one which, in the last couple of days, has arisen in respect of questions asked by me and I think by the member for Prospect. Both I and the member for Prospect, and a number of other members, have asked for ministers to answer questions which have been outstanding on the Notice Paper for some period of time. On advice of the Clerk, you have responded in a couple of instances that the matters that had been raised had in fact been answered.

I sought your assistance in relation to the matter which I raised with you yesterday. An answer had neither been prepared for publication in Hansard nor been delivered to me. So in the ordinary course one would not have said that is was a proper use of the English language to say the question had been answered, although I understand that an answer had been prepared and was en route to delivery.

Although it is a trivial matter, I would draw your attention to the point that someone who stands and asks for your assistance to direct a minister to answer a question does feel a bit of a goose when advised by the Speaker that the question has been answered when the member has not received that answer in their office and nor has it been included in Hansard. They would not be asking for the assistance of the Speaker were that the case. I would just ask you, Mr Speaker, to reflect on that matter and perhaps ensure that some more diplomatic way of addressing the matter is found.

Mr SPEAKER —Does the member for Canberra want to raise a similar point or a different one? Is the member for Canberra's matter related to the issue raised by the member for Denison or not?

Ms Ellis —It's not, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER —I will respond to the member for Denison's inquiry. The member for Denison raises a matter that did cause me some concern because it was not the intention of either the Speaker or the Clerk to reflect unkindly on the member for Denison. In fact, the Clerk had seen the response, hence the comment that I made to the member for Denison that the response had not been printed in Hansard or delivered to the member's office. We are both aware of that and we had in fact followed it up yesterday. We will ensure that in future, if we do indicate that an answer is on the way, it will be that it is on the way—and no implication of receipt.