I have just sent a letter to the Speaker of Parliament to complain about the apparent disregard with which the Minister of Health, Tony Ryall, has been treating his democratic obligations.
Here’s the main gist of my complaint:
- Every single one of the 101 Questions for Written Answer I have asked the Minister this year has come back either unanswered, late, or insufficiently answered.
- He has given the answer “I am not able to answer this question within the set timeframe. I undertake to respond to the Member as soon as possible” 50 times!
When a Minister fluffs their answer to a few written questions here or there it’s aggravating, but on Tony Ryall’s scale it starts to pose questions about his ability to do his job.
Some of the answers are over two months late. Considering that the Parliamentary rules state they should be answered within six days, that two month delay is painting a real picture about this Minister.
What is particularly galling about Minister Ryall’s delaying of my most recent set of questions, lodged on the 9th of August, is that they are all regarding an answer to an oral question that I asked the Minister in the House on the 8th of August. I lodged these written questions to clarify the answers he gave. It should be pretty simple to send through the facts that clarify the assertions he made in the House. If he doesn’t have that information then how did he make those claims in the first place?
I asked what the membership of the Public Health Advisory Committee is, what date it last met, and if the Minister intends to resume its work. These answers require little to no research and so his effective refusal to answer points towards him not wanting to answer rather than any sort of problem with timeframes.
There can be no credible reason that the Minister is unable to answer in time as far as I can see, except to hold up the machinery of Parliament and democracy.
Not exactly Ministerial behaviour.