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 13 sec
|Opening credits showing images of the Parliament in action.
Title: Snapshots of Parliament—Question Time.
|Footage of the House of Representatives at work.||Narrator: An important job of the Parliament is to scrutinise, or look very closely, at the work of the government. In Question Time members of parliament ask the government to explain its actions and decisions.|
|Footage of Question Time in the Senate. The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator the Hon Penny Wong, stands to speak.
Caption: ALP. Hon. Penny Wong. Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.
The Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, stands to speak.
|Senator Wong: My question is to Senator Cash, the Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. Can the Minister advise the Senate of the current capacity, how many people are currently held, and how many further people can be accommodated at the Manus Island Detention Centre?
Senator Cash: I don't have the statistics on me at this present point in time. However I will obtain a brief and provide them to you at the end of Question Time.
|Footage of the House of Representatives at work.||Narrator: Question Time takes place in the House of Representatives and the Senate at 2pm every day Parliament meets.|
|The Speaker, the Hon Tony Smith MP, conducts Question Time in the House of Representative.||Speaker: In accordance with Standing Order 43 the time for members' statements has concluded. Questions without notice.|
|The President, Senator the Hon Stephen Parry, conducts Question Time in the Senate.||President: We now move to questions without notice and I call Senator Ketter.|
|Footage of Question Time in the Senate and in the House of Representatives, including footage of people in the galleries.||Narrator: It lasts about one hour and is one of the most watched parts of the day. The public galleries are often full and most of the press gallery—or media—are there. The Prime Minister and ministers are expected to attend to answer questions.|
|The Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, stands and speaks at the Despatch Box.||Prime Minister: Thank you very much Mr Speaker and I thank the honourable member for his question.|
|The Leader of the Opposition, the Hon Bill Shorten MP, stands and speaks at the Despatch Box.||Narrator: In the House, the Leader of the Opposition usually asks the first question.
Speaker: The Leader of the Opposition.
Leader of the Opposition: Thank you Mr Speaker. My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister please explain whether or not he supports David Gonski's recommendations for needs-based funding for all Australian schools?
|The Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, stands and speaks at the Despatch Box.||Speaker: Prime Minister.
Prime Minister: Thank you Mr Speaker. I thank the honourable member for his question.
|Footage of various members of parliament standing and speaking.||Narrator: Then government and non-government members take it in turns. On the government side, only backbenchers ask questions.|
|Footage of the Minister for Finance, Senator the Hon Matthias Cormann, and the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator the Hon George Brandis, speaking in the Senate.||Narrator: There are strict rules about how Question Time is run. In the House, questions can only be 30 seconds long and answers 3 minutes. In the Senate the time limits are slightly longer.
A question cannot be used to debate an issue or argue a point. Ministers are expected to give answers that are relevant to the question.
|The President of the Senate calls on Senator Doug Cameron to speak.
Senator Cameron stands to speak.
|President: Senator Cameron on a point of order.
Senator Cameron: Point of order on relevance. There was a clear question, unequivocal question: who is right, the Prime Minister or the Treasurer. The Attorney-General has not gone near that question. He should address the question.
|The Treasurer, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, speaks from the Despatch Box in the House of Representatives.
Opposition and minor party senators speak in the Senate.
|Narrator: While Question Time looks unrehearsed, it's actually carefully planned.
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. Ministers have to be well-prepared so they can answer these questions immediately.
|The Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, speaks in the Senate.
Caption: LP. Hon. Marise Payne. Minister for Defence.
|Senator Payne: Indeed Australia continues to make one of the largest contributions to the counter Daesh campaign.|
|Dr John McVeigh MP, the Member for Groom, stands to speak in the House of Representatives.
Caption: LP. Dr John McVeigh. Member for Groom, Qld.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, stands at the Despatch Box and speaks.
|Member for Groom: Thank you Mr Speaker. My question is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Will the Minister update the House on the Australia-United States Foreign Affairs and Defence Ministers’ meeting next week?
Speaker: The Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Minister: Thank you Mr Speaker and I thank the Member for Groom for his question and his interest in this very important meeting.
|Footage of government backbenchers in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The Hon Paul Fletcher MP stands at the Despatch Box and speaks.
|Narrator: Government backbenchers ask ministers about what the government has achieved or how it is responding to a problem or crisis. This allows ministers to say what a good job the government is doing.
Minister for Urban Infrastructure: I do thank the member for her question and acknowledge her interest in the delivery of communication services to her constituents.
|Image of Dorothy Dix and her newspaper column.||Narrators: Ministers plan these questions with the backbenchers. 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, the Hon Tony Smith MP, in the Speaker's Chair in the House of Representatives.||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.|
|Footage of the House of Representatives and the Senate at work.||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.|
|Title: Parliamentary Education Office. Copyright Commonwealth of Australia 2017.
Parliamentary Education Office logo.
Parliamentary Education Office website: www.peo.gov.au