Senate debates

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Questions without Notice


2:14 pm

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (President) Share this | Hansard source

The minister, I think, spoke for seven seconds then. It was a factual question; it does not allow—

Honourable senators interjecting—

Order on my right! Order on my left! The first principle I have is that I cannot instruct the minister how to answer a question. The second principle is that this was a straight, factual question, so it does not allow for commentary, and I do not believe the minister was providing any commentary. I believe he was addressing the issue of gross debt. I am reluctant to instruct a minister, if they are being very specific to the question in my view, to get to the point of how to answer a question. I cannot instruct a minister to provide a particular number, fact, statement or observation to the chamber. There is an opportunity to debate the merit of answers afterwards. I believe the minister was constraining himself to the directly relevant issue raised by the question. I can't instruct him any further than that. Senator Birmingham.


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