Why can’t members of the government ask the opposition questions during question time?

The government does not ask the opposition questions because it is the government that is being scrutinised – closely examined – during Question Time.

The opposition, minor parties and independents ask ministers to explain their decisions and actions in their areas of responsibility. Government backbenchers can also ask ministers questions but rather than scrutinising the government, these questions usually allow the minister to promote the work of the government.

Question Time happens in both the Senate and House of Representatives. In the Senate, questions can only be directed to senators who are ministers and must be about the work of the government.

In the House of Representatives, questions can be directed to members who are not ministers only if the question is about a bill, a motion or some other business that the member is responsible for. For example, the chair of a committee can be asked about a report their committee has just finished.