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Tuesday, 13 March 1973
Page: 465

Mr STALEY (CHISHOLM, VICTORIA) - I ask the Prime Minister: Is an effective parliamentary question time an important element in the achievement of open government? Will the Prime Minister allow the length of question time to be doubled in order to provide that openness of government which he promised to the Australian people?

Mr WHITLAM - The answer to the first question is yes. The answer to the second question is that I shall be very happy to discuss any such proposals with the Leader of the Opposition or the Leader of the Australian Country Party. The Leader of the House has made arrangements to see that an ample regular period is available to honourable gentlemen to discuss matters on the motion for the adjournment of the House at night. The Government proposes, as far as possible, to see that general business proceeds on Thursday mornings and that when motions are moved the opportunity will be given to vote on those motions wherever possible. I have never given less than 45 minutes for questions without notice. I do not propose to give less than that time. I remember that in the 1950s the time allotted for questions was an hour on Tuesdays, three-quarters of an hour on Wednesdays and half an hour on Thursdays. Later an arrangement was made for three-quarters of an hour for questions each day. I am quite open to suggestions to vary the procedure in this way. From time to time there have been suggestions that time be provided for questions on notice to be answered and for supplementary questions to be asked without notice, as happens in the House of Commons at Westminster. I shall be happy to discuss any of these matters with the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Australian Country Party. The Leader of the House is ready to discuss them with the Whips.

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