Legislative Council Standing Orders - Chapter 8



8.01    Questions to Ministers or other Members

(1)    Questions may be put to -

(a)    Ministers of the Crown relating to public affairs for which the Minister is directly connected, or has responsibility when representing a Minister from the Assembly, or to any matter of administration for which the Minister is responsible; and
(b)    Other Members relating to any matter connected with the business on the Notice Paper of which the Member has charge.

(2)    Questions may be asked orally without notice for immediate reply and placed on the Notice Paper for written reply.


8.02    Rules relating to questions

(1)    Questions should not contain -

        (a)    offensive or unparliamentary language;
        (b)    statements of facts or names of persons unless they are strictly necessary to explain the question and can be authenticated;
        (c)     argument or opinion;
        (d)    reflections on Court decisions and sub judice matters;
        (e)    hypothetical matter; or
        (f)      reflections upon persons whose conduct may only be challenged on a substantive motion.

(2)    Questions should not ask for -

        (a)    an expression of opinion;
        (b)    legal opinion; or
        (c)     a statement or announcement of the Government's policy.

(3)    Questions cannot refer to -

        (a)    debates in either House in the previous six months of the same Session; or
        (b)    proceedings in committees which have not been reported to the Council.

(4)    Questions may be asked to elicit information regarding business on the Notice Paper but debate on the matter must not be anticipated.

(5)    A question cannot be asked again if during the previous six months of the same Session -

        (a)    it has been fully answered; or
        (b)    an answer has previously been refused.


8.03    Matter not to be debated in answer

In answering any such question, the Minister or Member will not debate the matter to which it refers.


8.04    Questions without notice

Questions without notice may be asked at the time prescribed by Standing Order 5.02 when any business before the Council will be interrupted.


8.05    Supplementary questions

(1)    At the conclusion of each answer the Member may ask a supplementary question of the Minister to elucidate or clarify the answer.

(2)     Supplementary questions must be actually and accurately related to the original question and must relate to or arise from the Minister's response.


8.06    Consideration of answers

On motion without notice the Council may order that an answer to a question and/or supplementary question be taken into consideration on a future day.


8.07    Questions on notice

(1)     A Member may lodge a question on notice by delivering or causing to be delivered to the Table Office a copy of the question in writing or electronically.

(2)     A question on notice lodged with the Table Office must be signed by, or in the case of a question lodged electronically, be provided in a manner that clearly identifies, the Member asking the question.


8.08    Questions may be omitted from Notice Paper

Any question or part of a question which, in the opinion of the President, contains material not in conformity with the Standing Orders may be omitted from the Notice Paper by order of the President.


8.09    Question may be altered

After a question has been lodged, it may be altered by the Member, on delivering or causing to be delivered to the Table Office an amended question.


8.10    Answers to questions on notice

(1)    After questions without notice have concluded a Minister will advise the Council the numbers of the questions on notice to which answers are being provided.

(2)    A copy of the answer will be given to the Member asking each question, and all answers will be incorporated in Hansard.


8.11    Procedure when answers to questions on notice not provided

(1)    If a Minister does not furnish an answer to a question on notice within 30 days of the asking of that question and does not, within that period, provide to the Member who asked the question an explanation satisfactory to that Member as to why an answer has not been provided -

       (a)   at the conclusion of the normal time for answering questions on notice, a non-Government Member on a Wednesday, and a Government Member on a Thursday, after that period, may ask the relevant Minister for an explanation; and

       (b)    at the conclusion of any such explanation the Member may move, without notice, "That the Council take note of the explanation".

(2)    In the event that a Minister does not provide an explanation, notice may forthwith be given of a motion regarding the Minister's failure to provide either an answer or an explanation to a question on notice which can only be debated during General Business.

(3)    Members may also make a statement within the time allocated for "Statements on reports and papers", provided that at least one day's notice of intention to make such statement is given by a Member.


8.12    Rules relating to answers to questions on notice

(1)    Ministers have a responsibility to provide, within a reasonable time, an answer which is relevant to the question.

(2)    The answer to a question may be limited in nature if in the opinion of the Minister the expense associated with the provision of all of the information which has been sought is too great. Where a Minister has formed this view, he or she should contact the Member to determine whether a compromise is possible by withdrawing the question and substituting another in a mutually acceptable form.

(3)    An answer to a question may be refused if in the opinion of the Minister the commitment of resources to, and costs associated with, its preparation cannot be justified. There must be reasonable grounds for this opinion and any refusal is limited to genuine cases.

(4)    Immediately it is apparent to a Minister that it will be difficult to provide an answer to a question within 30 days he or she should advise the Member accordingly.

(5)    If in the opinion of the Minister the information sought in a question is of a nature that is not normally provided, the Minister may inform the Member of that view.

(6)    Before placing a question on notice a Member should consider whether the information to be sought is readily available in known documents.

(7)    When a question is placed on notice and the information is found to be readily available in accessible documents, the Minister should advise the Member accordingly.

(8)    A Member intending to ask for an explanation as to why an answer has not been provided in response to a question should acquaint the Minister or his or her office of that intention the day before failure to supply an answer is to be raised in the Council.


8.13     Reinstatement of questions on notice to the Notice Paper

The President may direct that a question or part of a question on notice which has been answered be reinstated to the Notice Paper, if following a request of the Member asking the question, the President is of the opinion that the question has not been fully answered.