Secret plan to allow residents to quiz MPs and ministers

A SECRET plan to allow anyone in NSW to lob a question in state parliamentary Question Time is being considered by the government under Gladys Berejiklian's orders to modernise the bear pit.

Such a move to democratise Question Time would be a first for any Australian parliament, it is understood.

The parliamentary reforms, which are still being negotiated, are set to bring about a suite of changes but the most controversial is the idea to give voters the power to inject themselves into Question Time.

This would be called "the people's question" under an early version of the plan, which is favoured by new speaker Jonathan O'Dea.

The logistics of the parliament have been under review since April, with Mr O'Dea asked by the Premier to lead the review.

Anyone in NSW could be able to lob a question in state parliamentary.
Anyone in NSW could be able to lob a question in state parliamentary.

The logistics of how a "people's question" would work are still under consideration.

One preferred method would see every member of parliament asked to run some form of a lottery in their own electorate to select a voter who could deliver a question, and then take turns presenting the question to Question Time.

Another method that was touted in discussions was an online platform where NSW residents could submit questions with the Speaker to vet and deliver.

One senior Minster said some who supported the plan paid particular attention to the Flux democracy movement which has contested Australian elections based on a promise that they would letting party members vote online to order senators how to vote on bills.

Other elements of the NSW parliamentary review, which have received some support, include shifting Question Time from 2.15pm to a morning time slot such as 11am.

The panel is also considering shortening initial question time response times to three minutes instead of five.

The Daily Telegraph first revealed Premier Berejiklian wanted to reform the bear pit two days after her election.

She said at the time she wanted the parliament to be more productive "and spend more time dealing with the issues the community cares about and not just what politicians care about."

Speaking about the review in May, she said "of course tradition is important but we need to work harder to ensure that the parliament better reflects and responds to the community it serves."

The panel considering the changes is due to meet next week and has been asked to report to the Premier by June 30.

The initial plan was that changes would come into effect after the Winter break.

When Mr O'Dea accepted the job as speaker in the new parliament he told the Premier he had a desire to make the parliament more accessible to people.

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