Legislative Council: Wednesday, May 18, 2022



Questions on Notice

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI (Leader of the Opposition) (15:51): I move:

That, during the present session, once a notice of question has been given and placed on the Notice Paper pursuant to standing order 98b, an answer to the question shall be delivered to the Clerk, pursuant to standing order 98c, not more than 30 days after the date on which it had been first printed on the Notice Paper.

It has become apparent early in this parliamentary term that the Premier, Peter Malinauskas, the Leader of the Government in this house, their ministers and the Labor government want to keep South Australians in the dark. In their true form, Labor is once again showing their contempt for democracy by not continuing with the Liberal government's changes to parliamentary sessional orders.

When we came to government in May 2018, we—that is, the then Liberal government—committed to being transparent and accountable to the South Australian people and implemented changes to the sessional orders, ensuring that questions with notice receive answers within 30 days—within one month. We did this because it was the right thing to do, because it was the honest thing to do and because it was what the people of South Australia deserved.

Mr President, let me step you through the history of questions on notice in this chamber from 2014 to 2022. Between 2014 and 2018, when Labor was in government and the Leader of the Government in this place was a minister in the Weatherill government—and indeed also Leader of the Government during that time—there were 138 questions taken on notice. Of those 138 questions only 52 were answered.

I am sure all of us can do the maths to work out that 86—or roughly two-thirds—of those 138 questions were not answered, delivering an answer rate of just 37.7 per cent. Essentially, for every two out of three questions that the Labor government promised they would bring back an answer for, they did not. The stats do not lie.

Let me move to between 2018 and 2022. Between 2018 and 2022, when the Liberals were governing this chamber, when the Liberals ensured we were transparent and accountable by changing the sessional orders, there were 173 questions taken on notice. Of those 173 questions taken on notice all of them were answered—I repeat: all of them were answered. We had an answer rate of 100 per cent. Not only were they answered but the answers were given in a timely fashion, because we believe in being transparent.

This current government clearly does not believe in being honest with the South Australian community, they clearly do not believe in being transparent with the South Australian community and they clearly do not believe in being accountable to the people who showed them faith in electing them on 19 March—and shame on them.

We have already seen in this chamber, two weeks ago, that they are not prepared to answer our questions and, what is more, using every excuse under the sun to not answer our questions. Is this what they think the people of South Australia deserve? Well, I hope not. The Labor government promised that they would hold their government to a higher standard, but those promises, like most of the promises we see from the Labor Party, are empty.

I stand here today to say: enough is enough. I did not want to move this motion. I went to the Leader of the Government and I asked him to move this motion himself, but he, his Premier and his government refused. So again, I stand here today moving this motion to ensure that the Malinauskas government is held to account and that questions on notice are answered within what I think is a very reasonable time frame of 30 days.

I am sure the public of South Australia also think it is reasonable to have questions answered within a 30-day time frame. We could do it when we were in government; I am not sure why they cannot. It is a sad state of affairs when the opposition and the crossbench have to force the government to be open, accountable and transparent to the people of South Australia.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. I.K. Hunter.