MP pushes for QT reform

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DUNKLEY MP Peta Murphy is pushing to reform parliament’s question time. 

The first term MP made a co-submission to the standing committee’s inquiry into the practices and procedures of question time, saying that the system is “broken” and “plays into broader concerns around declining trust in government, politics and the institutions of our democracy, including parliament.”

Among the reforms offered by Ms Murphy include the addition of a constituency question time to allow backbenchers to ask ministers questions relating to their electorate.

Ms Murphy said in her co-submission that question time was “the forum where robust questioning and detailed answers should allow oppositions to hold ministers to account, ministers to explain the government’s work, and individual parliamentarians to prosecute issues that matter to their electorate. However, it is clear that question time is broken.”

“As new members, we have been struck by the way in which question time has descended into a forum that displays little of this,” she said.

The proposed reforms include the removal of “Dorothy Dixers”, which are questions asked to government ministers by members of their own government.

“Routinely, government members ask ministers Dorothy Dixers that give rise to campaign speeches and personal attacks on opposition members, while ministers avoid giving genuine answers to the cross-bench and opposition,” the submission read.

Other proposed reforms include forcing ministers to address only the specifics of the question asked, the inclusion of a question from a member of the public once a fortnight, and a ban on mobile phone use during the one hour question time session.

First published in the Frankston Times – 4 November 2019

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