Question Time is not Answer Time

In the Commonwealth Parliament yesterday, Speaker Bronwyn Bishop rejected a complaint from the Opposition that the Prime Minister had not answered their question: “Resume your seat! The member would also know that, under the standing orders, ministers are not obliged to answer questions.” While order 104 of the House of Representatives Standing Orders requires that answers are “directly relevant to the question”, it does not prohibit ministers from simply refusing to answer at all. The Courier-Mail‘s Dennis Atkins complains that Question Time does not fulfil its purpose: “[G]overnments do all they can not to answer.… In one form or another it’s always been so but in recent years it has slipped into genuine disrepute and does more to annoy, frustrate and anger viewers and listeners.”