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Factsheet No. 7 - Questions

Factsheet No. 7 - Questions

​Questions are an important way for Members of Parliament to seek information from the Government. Members are able to ask questions orally and in writing. The most well-known and public opportunity for Members to ask questions is during Question Time. This fact sheet explains what questions are, what types of questions can be asked in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, what the Assembly's rules for questions and answers are, and how you might go about finding questions and answers on the Assembly's website.

Content

  • What are questions?
  • Types of questions
  • Rules for Question Time
  • Rules for lodging written questions
  • Content of questions and answers
  • Questions and Answers Paper
  • Finding individual questions and answers


What are questions?

In the Legislative Assembly any Member may ask a question seeking information from:

  • a Minister, which relates to public affairs, matters under the Minister's administration or proceedings in the House that the Minister is responsible for; or
  • ​a Chair of a parliamentary committee, which relates to the affairs of the committee.


Types of questions

There are two types of questions which may be asked:

  • Oral questions – These may only be asked during Question Time, which occurs at 2.15 pm each sitting day.
  • Written questions – These may be lodged at any time while the House is sitting up to 12 noon on the Thursday of sitting week.


Rules for Question Time

  • The Leader of the Opposition is entitled to be called to ask the first question by the Speaker. After, any Member may seek the call to ask a question. The current practice is for questions to be asked alternatively between Government and non-Government Members.
  • Independent Members and minor parties are allocated a number of questions each week as part of the non-government allocation.
  • The duration of Question Time is 45 minutes or the answering of 10 questions, whichever takes longer.
  • ​A Minister's answer to a question must not exceed five minutes. At the conclusion of a Minister's answer to a question, the Member who asked the question may, at the discretion of the Speaker, seek additional information from the Minister. The Minister's additional information must not exceed two minutes.


Rules for lodging written questions

  • Members can lodge three written questions per sitting day or nine questions per sitting week (based on a three-day sitting week).
  • The Leader of the Opposition can lodge four questions per sitting day or twelve questions per sitting week (based on a three-day sitting week).


Content of questions and answers

The general rules about the content of oral and written questions are:

  • Questions cannot be debated.
  • Questions should not contain:
  • statements of facts or names of persons unless they are strictly necessary to render the question intelligible and can be authenticated;
  • argument;
  • inference;
  • imputation;
  • epithets;
  • ironical expression;
  • expression of opinion; or
  • hypothetical matter.
  • Questions should not ask for:
  • an expression of opinion;
  • legal opinion;
  • an announcement of government policy; or
  • confirmation of rumour or media reports.


The general rules about the content of answers to oral and written questions are:

  • Answers must be relevant to the question asked.
  • Answers should not debate the matter to which the question relates.
  • Ministers must provide answers to written questions within 35 calendar days after a question is first published.


Questions and Answers Paper

The Questions and Answers Paper is an official Legislative Assembly publication that records questions to which answers have been received on that sitting day and new questions received that day, together with a list of unanswered questions with the date that answers are due from the Minister (35 day after publication). The full text of questions is published two times only, once when a question is first published and then again when an answer to a question has been received.

The Questions and Answers Paper is published at the end of each sitting day. From time to time the Paper is also published during adjournments of the House of two or more weeks containing answers that have been received.

The Questions and Answers Paper for each sitting day can be accessed via the Legislative Assembly's House Papers webp​​age​.


Finding individual questions and answers

You can also find individual questions and answers using the Legislative Assembly's Questions and Answers tracking webpage.  This is a useful search tool which enables you to filter by Member, portfolio or subject.