The Rann Government had refused to answer almost 1,200 questions on notice in the Parliament, some of which had been first asked six years ago in December 2002.
“This is an increasingly arrogant Rann Government snubbing its nose at any pretext of Parliamentary accountability by simply refusing to answer important questions,” Liberal MLC Rob Lucas said today.
“As at December 2008 there were exactly 1,160 unanswered questions on notice to Rann Government Ministers on the Legislative Council Notice Paper.
“Given the Rann Government’s refusal to answer questions, it may well be that the Legislative Council has to consider changes to its Standing Orders to force Ministers to reply within a fixed time period.”
Most other jurisdictions in Australia now have set time limits of about 30 calendar days within which Ministers have to respond as outlined in the following table:
Parliament Time to answer
New South Wales 35 calendar days
Victoria 30 calendar days
Queensland 30 calendar days
Senate 30 calendar days
ACT 30 calendar days*
West Australia 9 sitting days
* If not answered within 30 days, Minister has to explain reasons to Parliament
“It would appear that such a change might be the only way of ensuring the Rann Government is kept accountable for answering questions,” he said.
Examples of some of the questions unanswered by the Rann Government are listed below:
• Details of frequent flyer point usage by Ministers;
• Details of long-service leave liability including the highest level of untaken leave for any employee;
• Details of public servants, who had received separation packages, then being re-employed as contractors;
• Details of Ministers' overseas travel including costs being met by departments and not the Ministerial office budget as well as whether staff or Ministers extended travel for private purposes;
• Details on Thinkers in Residence programs, government advertising costs, short term contract and trainee positions.
“For decades, governments in South Australia, both Labor and Liberal, have generally responded to most questions on notice within a reasonable time frame,” Mr Lucas said.
“However, the increasingly arrogant Rann Government is the first government ever to just decide to refuse to answer hundreds of questions for up to six years.
“It is obvious that Mr Rann is desperate to cover up embarrassing information from becoming public.”