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Wednesday, 27 June 2001
Page: 28712

Mr McCLELLAND (3:44 PM) —On that issue, I think it was last December that you ruled a question out of order—I think appropriately, with respect—where we asked the Deputy Prime Minister a question regarding the policy of the National Party. My research is that that is entirely consistent with Barlin. The issue is, however, that government members—

Mr Reith —Mr Speaker, there are forms and procedures in the House. If a member wishes to make a statement, he should seek your leave to do so. He has not even sought a personal explanation or a point of order or anything.

Mr SPEAKER —As the Leader of the House would be well aware, it is not the character of the member for Barton to abuse the forms of the House. For that reason, I believed the member for Barton was in the process of asking me a question.

Mr McCLELLAND —The issue is that the government tends to avoid that challenge by asking a general question: is the minister aware of any alternative policies? My question to you is by way of clarification of your last answer, which I think implies that, in answering such a general question, ministers should nonetheless be relevant to their portfolio responsibilities.

Mr SPEAKER —The member for Barton may be interested to know—and I may need to report this to the House later—but I have, as the member for Barker is aware, spent the last weekend during what flying I have done checking a heap of Hansards of question time from 1990 through to 2001. I am very satisfied, if that does not sound too smug, that the arrangements I have made in question time during the three years I have occupied the chair have been entirely consistent with the arrangements that applied when former Speakers occupied the chair.