Fact Sheet F2

Fact Sheet F2: Questions on Notice

 

Summary: Questions on notice allow members to ask other members (usually ministers) for information. Members ask written questions through the question paper published each sitting day. Non-government members ask most questions, usually seeking information about government administration.

Difference between questions on notice and question time

Questions on notice deal with complex issues

How members ask questions on notice

Publishing questions

Question structure

Asking a Council minister a question

Rules for asking questions

Process for answering questions

Finding questions and answers online

 

 

 

Difference between questions on notice and question time

Questions on notice are written questions published each sitting day.  These are not the same as question time (which is officially called questions without notice).  Question time is the most well known part of a parliament’s day and attracts a lot of media interest.  Members ask ministers questions in the Chamber and they reply immediately (see Fact Sheet B2: Question Time).

This fact sheet outlines the procedure and rules for questions on notice.  They are called ‘on notice’ as they are written, giving the minister time to research before replying, also in writing.  

Questions on notice deal with complex issues

Members generally ask questions on notice when the answer is likely to be detailed, or include complex information.  They often ask for statistics and comparative information over a number of years.

How members ask questions on notice

Members give signed or emailed copies of their questions to the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly. Questions received by midday on sitting days, are usually processed that day.

Publishing questions

After members submit questions to the Clerk, Procedure Office staff check the questions meet the Legislative Assembly's rules for asking questions. Then the staff publish the questions on our website using the questions and responses database.

The Procedure Office also produces a question paper at the end of the day and publishes it online. This document contains all questions asked on a single sitting day in a print friendly format.

Question structure

Questions normally have three distinct parts. We give each question a heading, to indicate that it is a question on notice. This separates them from constituency questions and adjournment matters, which are also entered in the database. The second part states who is asking the question and who it is directed to.  The third part contains the actual question.

We give each question a unique number for easy tracking.

An example

7553 QUESTION ON NOTICE

Ms Britnell to ask the Minister for Roads and Road Safety —

With reference to the Macarthur-Myamyn Road in South-West Victoria:

(1) How much funding has the Government allocated to upgrade Macarthur-Myamyn Road.

(2) What date will works commence on upgrades to the Macarthur-Myamyn Road.

 

 

Asking a Council minister a question

Legislative Assembly members can ask ministers in the Legislative Council questions, by directing the question through an Assembly minister. The government decides which ministers in the Assembly represent those in the Council.

An example

1081 QUESTION ON NOTICE 

Ms Ryan to ask the Minister for Education for the Minister for Training and Skills —

With reference to the vacancies as of 16 September 2015 on the board of Wodonga Institute of TAFE:

(1) On what date did each vacancy expire.

(2) On what date was the Minister formally notified of each vacancy.

 

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Rules for asking questions

Any member can be asked a question on notice, but questions to a minister are the most common.

The wording must not breach the Legislative Assembly’s rules. Questions must be clear and factual, and not contain unsuitable, controversial or offensive language.

Questions to a minister must relate to state government administration, and the minister’s current responsibilities.  Those to members, rather than ministers, must be about business of the Assembly that the member is responsible for.

Questions must also not:

• cover internal party matters or Commonwealth government issues

• be facetious, frivolous, vague or meaningless

• ask for a solution to a hypothetical proposal

• ask if media statements are accurate

• relate to issues royal commissions or parliamentary committees are dealing with

• ask for an opinion, or a legal opinion

• ask for information that is easy to get from available documents

• be on the same topic as an issue the Assembly is due to consider

• repeat a question which has already been asked.

Questions should be asked in a straightforward way, and should not contain:

• arguments, opinions, inferences or imputations

• any information not needed to explain the question

• unauthenticated statements

• quotations or extracts from newspapers, books, speeches or other source material, unless they are strictly necessary to ask the question

• criticism of decisions of either House

• comments about court cases (see Fact Sheet E3: Sub Judice Convention)

• allegations about someone’s conduct or character, as this can only be done in a specific debate about that person.

Process for answering questions

Answers should be direct, factual and succinct. They sometimes contain information such as graphs and tables and can be quite detailed. Ministers have 30 days to reply in writing to questions.

Ministers give their written answers to the Clerk. Procedure Office Staff, on behalf of the Clerk, publish the answers online in the database. When the answer is published online, the member recieves a notification email. See 'Finding questions and answers online' below.

Finding questions and answers online

The Procedure Office publishes all questions on notice and their answers in the questions and responses database. You can use the database to search for questions and answers based on who asked the question, who it was addressed to, the date, keywords and whether or not it has been answered.

You can find new questions on the database at the end of each sitting day and new answers whenever they are submitted to the Clerk.

We also publish a question paper in both word and pdf format at the end of the sitting day.

Phone the Assembly Procedure Office on 03 9651 8563 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for assistance.

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