Earlier this year we wrote about the raft of sessional orders that had been adopted for this parliamentary term and how some of these sessional orders would change the operation of the House.
Now that the House has had nine sitting days in which to test out these new sessional orders, let’s check-in to see how those particularly relating to Questions are being used.
🎯 answers must be ‘directly relevant’ rather than ‘generally relevant’
Now that answers must be directly relevant and members have three minutes rather than four to answer a question, the efficiency of Question Time has increased with more questions asked and more answers being given.
🗨 following the asking of a supplementary question, a further supplementary question may be asked by a non-government member
Four further supplementary questions have been asked by non-government members on four separate occasions.
📔 a ‘take note’ debate following Question Time may be moved to allow members to canvass the answers to oral questions asked that day and answers to written questions received
This new sessional order has been used on 6 occasions since being adopted on 8 May.
❓ questions can be directed to Parliamentary Secretaries, not just Ministers
Two questions have been asked of Parliamentary Secretaries ― one question to the Parliamentary Secretary for Health, the Hon Natasha Maclaren-Jones MLC and another question to the Parliamentary Secretary for the Cost of Living, the Hon Catherine Cusack MLC.
🖊 at the end of Question Time, a member from each party and any independent member may ask a supplementary question to elucidate answers to questions that day, and Ministers must lodge written answers to these supplementary questions by 10 am the next working day
A total of 6 supplementary questions for written answers have been asked by members at the end of Question Time.
📝 written questions can be lodged on any business day by 4pm throughout the calendar year, not just sitting days
So far, members have submitted a total of 326 written questions of which 160 questions have been lodged on non-sitting days. These can be found on the Questions and Answers tracking page.
From the member’s use of these sessional orders we can see that they are working well, providing members further opportunities to examine, challenge and seek information about the work of the government.
Stay tuned for Part 2 where we look at how sessional orders relating to debate in the House are being used.