Question Time

In Question Time members of parliament ask the government to explain its actions and decisions. This video explores the purpose, function and format of Question Time in the House of Representatives and Senate.

Teachers can use this video with their class as part of an exploration of Question Time in the Australian Parliament.

Duration: 4 min 12 sec

 

Transcript

Vision

Audio

Opening credits showing animated shapes with the words, Understand, Teach, Book, Connect.

The Parliamentary Education Office logo.
Music.
Footage of the House of Representatives and the Senate during Question Time. Narrator: One of the Parliament's important jobs is to scrutinise, or closely examine, the work of the government. In Question Time members of parliament do this by asking ministers questions about the government’s actions and decisions.
The Member for Hunter speaking at the Despatch Box in the House of Representatives. The Member for Hunter: Thank you very much Mr Speaker. My question is to the Prime Minister. Yesterday the National Farmers’ Federation released its drought plan. Today the National Party backbench released its own plan in response to ministers going missing on the drought. When will the Prime Minister release a national drought strategy?
Footage of the House of Representatives and the Senate during Question Time. Narrator: Question Time takes place in the House of Representatives and the Senate at 2pm every day Parliament meets.
Footage of the House of Representatives as members come in for Question Time. The Speaker: In accordance with Standing Order 43, the time for members’ statements has concluded. Questions without notice. The Leader of the Opposition.
Footage of the Senate as senators come in for Question Time. The President: It being 2pm, we’ll move to questions without notice.
Footage of the House of Representatives and the Senate, including the public galleries and the Press Gallery during Question Time. Narrator: It lasts about one hour and is one of the most watched parts of the day. The public galleries are often full and many of the journalists and photographers in the Press Gallery at Parliament House attend.
The Leader of the Opposition speaking at the Despatch Box in the House of Representatives. The Leader of the Opposition: Thank you Mr Speaker. My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. By Christmas, 160 000…
Footage of the House of Representatives and the Senate during Question Time. Narrator: The Prime Minister and ministers are expected to answer questions about the government’s actions and decisions. The first question of the day comes from the opposition, then government and non-government members ask questions in turn. On the government side, only backbenchers ask questions.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives in the Speaker’s Chair. Narrator: There are rules about how Question Time is run and strict time limits on the length of both questions and answers. A question cannot be used to debate an issue or argue a point. Ministers must give answers that are relevant to the question.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives in the Speaker’s Chair. The Speaker: In the remaining time he needs to at least outline what the policies are, if he’s going to outline what the risks are. Otherwise we’ll move to the next question.
A government senator from South Australia speaks in the Senate. Senator from South Australia: Can the Minister update the Senate on how Australia’s military contribution to the Middle East is supporting efforts to increase security and stability in the region?
A minister in the Senate. Narrator: Government backbenchers ask ministers about what the government has achieved, how it is addressing an issue or how it is responding to a crisis.
The Member for Fisher, a government backbencher, speaks in the House of Representatives. The Member for Fisher: Would the Minister please outline to the House what this government is doing to address the tragedies in relation to youth suicide, mental health and eating disorders?
A minister at the Despatch Box in the House of Representatives. Narrator: This allows ministers to provide information about the work the government is doing. Ministers plan these questions with the backbenchers.
Image of Dorothy Dix and her newspaper column. Narrator: These types of questions are called Dorothy Dixers. They are named after a newspaper advice columnist who wrote her readers' questions as well as the replies.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives in the Speaker’s Chair. The Speaker: I say to members if they wish me to hear these things, they shouldn’t carry on like a soccer crowd. I didn’t hear what the minister said. I’m finding it very difficult to hear what the minister said.
Members of the opposition in the Senate and the House of Representatives. Narrator: As well as keeping a check on the government, the opposition wants people to see it as a better alternative. Opposition questions often focus on mistakes the government may have made or weaknesses in a minister's performance
A minister in the House of Representatives. Narrator: Ministers must be well-prepared so they can answer these questions immediately.
Footage of the House of Representatives and the Senate during Question Time. Narrator: A lively part of Parliament, Question Time is covered by the media. It will report if the government performs well in Question Time or if it does a bad job of explaining itself. For the public, Question Time is another way to find out about the work of the government.
The Parliamentary Education Office logo. www.peo.gov.au.

Narrator: This is our Australian Parliament. To find out more and how you can get involved, visit the Parliamentary Education Office website: PEO.gov.au

 

Music.