Chapter 15 | Questions

One of the more important functions of the House is its critical review function. This includes scrutiny of the Executive Government, bringing to light issues and perceived deficiencies or problems, ventilating grievances, exposing, and thereby preventing the Government from exercising, arbitrary power, and pressing the Government to take remedial or other action. Questions are a vital element in this function.

It is fundamental in the concept of responsible government that the Executive Government be accountable to the House. The capacity of the House of Representatives to call the Government to account depends, in large measure, on its knowledge and understanding of the Government’s policies and activities. Questions without notice and on notice (questions in writing) play an important part in this quest for information.

Question Time

Some historical features

Duration of Question Time

Number of questions

Allocation of the call

Supplementary questions

Rules governing questions


Private Members


Parliamentary Secretaries


Direction of Questions

To Ministers

Rostering of Ministers

To Parliamentary Secretaries

To private Members

To committee chairs, etc

To the Speaker

Length of questions

Form and content of questions

To relate to Minister’s public responsibilities

Statutory authorities

Questions to seek factual information or press for action

Debate, argument, etc.

Inferences, etc.

References to debates

References to committee proceedings

Information, comment, etc. in questions

References to newspaper reports, etc.

Questions seeking opinions

Announcement of government policy

Questions regarding persons

Questions concerning the Crown

The sub judice convention


Repetition of questions

Question without notice similar to question on Notice Paper

Personal interest

Questions requiring detailed response

Questions in writing

Notice of question

Form and content

Printing of questions on Notice Paper

Removal of questions from Notice Paper


No obligation to answer

Answers to questions put to Ministers representing Senate Ministers

Answers to questions without notice

Addition to or correction of an answer

Content of answers and relevance

Length of answers

Answers and the authority of the Chair

Answers to questions in writing

Unanswered questions