A Labor MP says government and opposition frontbenchers should stop feeding the backbench questions to restore the integrity of question time.
Tasmanian MP Brian Mitchell has broken ranks to call for reforms to question time that would prevent senior politicians on both sides of the chamber controlling the line of questioning.
In a submission to a House of Representatives inquiry looking at the practices and procedures in question time, Mr Mitchell said government and opposition backbenchers should be free to ask questions about their constituents, instead of being roped into slinging Dorothy Dixers or political missiles across the chamber.
There should be a parliamentary convention that excludes the executive from any role in the drafting of questions or allocation of questioning from government MPs, he said.
One question time per parliamentary sitting week should be reserved for opposition backbench questions to the executive, Mr Mitchell suggested.
And the shadow executive should also be excluded from any role in the drafting of questions or allocation of questioning, he said.
Mr Mitchell, a former journalist who was elected to Parliament in 2016, told The Canberra Times he was "frustrated as anybody about question time being non-answer time".
"It's one of those times of the day the government tries to get it's message out, the opposition is trying to get its message out and no one is paying any attention to getting questions answered. It would be better if the rules of the Parliament reflected the original intent of question time," Mr Mitchell said.
if the government backbench was able to ask questions "not fed by the minister" and opposition MPs were able to ask questions about their electorates "without the shadow executive hogging the limelight", there would be greater accountability, Mr Mitchell argued.
"The government should be held to account for its decisions, that's what question time was originally designed to be," Mr Mitchell said.
"Somehow it's become a theatre, with the government and the opposition trying to rule the five-minute news cycle and shape the debate of the next day."
Mr Mitchell also said there needed to be a better mechanism to force ministers to actually answer questions.
While standing orders dictate answers must be directly relevant to the question, and MPs can ask the Speaker to write to the minister if they haven't received a reply to a question on notice in 60 days, Mr Mitchell said "there doesn't seem to be great pressure on ministers to actually get on with it".
He believes there should be a way for the Speaker to formally reprimand ministers who evade questions from the Parliament.
"Something to make ministers hop to it a bit more," Mr Mitchell said.
Question time is a feature of Westminster parliaments around the world, including the UK, Canada and New Zealand.
The Victorian Parliament moved in 2015 to scrap Dorothy Dixers - softball questions from government backbenchers to ministers to allow them to spruik their own policies.
The term stems from American advice columnist Dorothy Dix's reputed habit of making up her own questions in order to publish more interesting answers.
The Speaker of the ACT's Assembly indicated last year she was also interested in curtailing the practice but no changes have been forthcoming.
- Have your say about the state of question time through the online survey until October 31.