Question Time a 'total sham': ex-Speaker

Former speaker Peter Slipper says Question Time in federal parliament should be reformed.
Former speaker Peter Slipper says Question Time in federal parliament should be reformed.

Parliamentary Question Time has become a "total sham" abused by the government to tout propaganda and abuse opponents, a controversial former Speaker says.

Peter Slipper was due to appear at a parliamentary inquiry into the hour-long question and answer spectacle on Thursday, but cancelled due to an urgent meeting.

In his written submission to the inquiry, Mr Slipper said Question Time should be extended but questions and answers limited to 30 seconds each.

MPs would then get an extra three to five questions to lob at government ministers.

"This would permit a forensic pursuit of the truth of a particular matter relating to the minister's responsibilities," Mr Slipper said.

Question Time as it was currently conducted only encouraged the election of loopy, single-issue politicians, Mr Slipper said.

"There is a general perception in the Australian community that Question Time in the House of Representatives has become a total sham," he wrote.

"To be frank (making party political statements) renders the original aim of Question Time utterly useless; destroys community respect for the parliament."

The committee is weighing up a raft of recommendations including a ban on "dorothy dixer" questions and having no mobile phones in the chamber.

Australian Associated Press