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senate vote 2020-06-18#1

Edited by mackay

on 2020-07-24 09:29:17


  • Business Senate Temporary Orders
  • Business - Senate Temporary Orders - Let a vote happen


  • <p class="speaker">Larissa Waters</p>
  • <p>I seek leave to move a motion, as is being circulated in the chamber, relating to general business notice of motion No. 705, concerning an amendment to standing order 66. The motion reads: 'That the Senate note that neither the government nor the opposition has consulted with the crossbench in relation to their proposal to amend standing order 66 to vastly reduce motions, in a very antidemocratic move.'</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Scott Ryan</p>
  • The majority voted against a [motion]( introduced by Queensland Senator [Larissa Waters]( (Greens), which means it failed. The motion was to suspend the usual procedural rules of Parliament to let a vote happen, known as [standing orders](
  • ### Motion text
  • > *That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent me from moving a motion relating to the consideration of a matter, namely a motion to give precedence to a motion relating to general notice of motion No.705.*
  • <p>It's not a time to speak, Senator Waters.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Larissa Waters</p>
  • <p>I condemn that proposal in the strongest possible terms as it amounts to an attack on democracy, restricts debate and free speech and undermines the important work of the Senate in advancing policy, constituent and transparency matters, and I ask that general business notice of motion No. 705 be discharged from the <i>Notice Paper</i>.</p>
  • <p>Leave not granted.</p>
  • <p>Pursuant to contingent notice, I move:</p>
  • <p class="italic">That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent me from moving a motion relating to the consideration of a matter, namely a motion to give precedence to a motion relating to general notice of motion No.705.</p>
  • <p>What we saw yesterday was the two big parties not even speak to anyone on the crossbench about their collusion in seeking to shut down the crossbench's ability to do its job to hold the government and, at times, the opposition to account. What's being proposed, in a cosy little deal between the two big parties, is to limit our ability, as senators, to move motions to just one formal motion a week. That includes motions to disclose documents&#8212;orders for the production of documents. For example, this week I moved a motion for an order for the production of documents pertaining to yet more election rorts by this government&#8212;the community development grants&#8212;but I also moved a motion calling for a federal corruption watchdog. Both were transparency measures. Under this proposed change, which both big parties support, I wouldn't be allowed to do that; they wouldn't give me permission to use my ability, as a senator, to represent Queensland and to push for more transparency and democracy in this place. They would be the arbiters of what the crossbench can do and when we can use our power to hold them to account. They did not even have the decency to consult. They didn't consult with the Greens, they didn't consult with Centre Alliance, they didn't consult with Senator Lambie and they didn't consult with Pauline Hanson's One Nation. This is absolutely a move to shut down the democratic right of senators on the crossbench to do our jobs, and we will oppose it with the strongest possible powers that we have. We will do that today and we will do that on the next day of sitting. We will do it on every day of sitting until these people come to the table, like adults, and discuss possible improvements to the program. But that didn't happen. It was just yet another cosy deal between the two big parties to change the way the democracy of this chamber works.</p>
  • <p>We know they don't like transparency. That's why we still don't have a federal corruption watchdog, despite the fact that the government agreed 18 months ago to create one. We know they don't like being held to account on their policy positions. I've got news for you: sometimes it is inconvenient for you to be held to account on your policy positions, but it's also democratic, and the convenience of the two big parties should not be running this place. We have a job to do here to represent our constituents, to further the public interest and to work in the nation's interest, and the two big parties are sick of the inconvenience of the crossbench.</p>
  • <p>I've got some more news for you: there is a reason why the vote support for the big parties is the lowest that it has ever been in history, and it will continue to drop with this sort of antidemocratic behaviour. You don't want to be held to account for your policy positions. I move motions, for example, about protecting the reef and giving coal workers a future in clean energy and other industries. You don't want to be held to account.</p>
  • <p>We all know the massive donations that flow into the coffers of both the big political parties from big business, from vested interests, from people who want to buy policy outcomes. We draw attention to that because we think it's cooked. What's your answer? You don't want to be held to account. You're embarrassed by that and you should be embarrassed by that. The mature response is to have a debate about how the program can move more smoothly, but, no, there's just an absolute glass-jaw approach from both sides of the chamber here.</p>
  • <p>We will oppose this with everything we've got, and I believe I speak for the crossbench in saying that. Senator Lambie and Senator Patrick, I'm sure, will have contributions to make, and I imagine Senator Roberts and perhaps Senator Hanson might also share and join in in contributing on these views.</p>
  • <p>Motions perhaps might sound a bit procedural to anyone that might be listening, but they are crucial and they have delivered things like the banking royal commission. They have led to things like marriage equality. They have led to the disability royal commission. Moving motions is not just some jaunt that we undertake to draw important issues to the attention of the big parties and to let the populists know about where we all stand. Motions get things done and they can lead to legislative reform. Yes, they're inconvenient, and yes of course you don't want to be held to account by having to vote on what your actual policy positions even are&#8212;except of course if you're the Labor Party, as you don't have any policy positions as yet because they're under review, so it's not clear what you stand for. Well, the public deserves to know what you stand for. This chamber of democracy has a very strong crossbench. We deserve a voice, and we will continue to fight for it.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Simon Birmingham</p>
  • <p>There are some facts that need to be put on the table in relation to the motion that Senator Waters is speaking about. The facts are that the motion being brought to the chamber today in the names of Senator Cormann and Wong is not a motion that will prevent any senator from bringing motions forward to this chamber. What it does do&#8212;</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Sue Lines</p>
  • <p>Senator Birmingham, just resume your seat, please. Senator Waters?</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Larissa Waters</p>
  • <p>Point of order, Deputy President. The minister should know that is misleading the Senate. We are talking about formal motions&#8212;</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Sue Lines</p>
  • <p>Senator Waters, please resume your seat. That is a debating point.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Simon Birmingham</p>
  • <p>. It does not prevent senators from bringing motions to the Senate. What it does do is limit the ability of senators to move motions that other senators cannot debate. That is the point of formal motions.</p>
  • <p>Honourable senators interjecting&#8212;</p>
  • <p>I note that I listened to Senator Waters in silence.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Sue Lines</p>
  • <p>I beg your pardon. Senator Birmingham, please resume your seat.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Mehreen Faruqi</p>
  • <p>Madam Deputy President, I want to raise a point of order, and the point of order is that Senator Birmingham is providing completely inaccurate information to the chamber and to the Senate. He should at least tell the truth.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Sue Lines</p>
  • <p>Senator Faruqi, please resume your seat. That is a debating point.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Simon Birmingham</p>
  • <p>I do note that I listened to Senator Waters in silence, and the Australian Greens seem incapable of returning that courtesy. In fact it is a lack of courtesy that has led to the motion being brought to this chamber by Senators Cormann and Wong. It's a lack of courtesy in the sense that too many in this place have sought to use and abuse the motions process to present motions that, by the manner in which they are presented to this chamber, do not enable senators to debate them. Those on the crossbench routinely bowl up complex, sensitive or divisive motions and then expect that all 76 members of the Senate should either vote for them or against them without any senator being able to have their say on those matters.</p>
  • <p>It is a fundamental tenet of our democracy that sensitive issues ought to be able to be debated, and in no way does the procedural motion being put forward today by the government and the opposition prevent time in the Senate agenda for the debate of sensitive matters or for the debate of motions in their proper way, as scheduled. There are many opportunities in the Senate program for debate to occur. There is time, indeed, in this afternoon's agenda for debate to occur. There is time in Monday's agenda for debate to occur. There are procedures and processes to bring motions on for debate. But what has become unacceptable in this place is that hours are spent every single sitting day on motions that deny senators their right to debate the motions, and those motions have become increasingly complex and sensitive and have moved away from the intent of that period of the agenda. The Senate initially established this part of the program with the clear intention that it was to deal with matters that did not require debate. Senators were accorded that right for matters that were noncontroversial, that did not necessarily require debate to be dealt with, but that right has gradually been abused by more and more members of this place. That is the lack of courtesy that, unfortunately, has brought us to this point.</p>
  • <p>This motion that is being put forward is calm, reasonable and rational, and the crossbench are actually accorded greater opportunity, in a proportional sense, than the opposition or the government. The approach that's being put forward has been crafted so that crossbenchers will receive the same opportunities as the opposition or the government to move motions and the same number of motions without debate occurring. That is a perfectly reasonable approach to take. I would urge the crossbench to realise that this is about trying to strike the right balance. There will still be plenty of time to move those motions and plenty of time for priority matters to be dealt with.</p>
  • <p>The idea promulgated by Senator Waters that, somehow, the presentation of motions in this place without there being any debate attached to them has led to royal commissions or same-sex marriage occurring is a ridiculous proposition. These substantial changes are achieved by legislation in this place, and the abuse of formal business motions and the time that has been taken up by them over recent years simply curtails the time available in this chamber for legislation to be debated; it curtails the time available for real reform to occur. This is about taking that time back for the Senate, as it should be for empowering individual senators to have their say in a thoughtful and orderly way.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Mathias Cormann</p>
  • <p>This is an important reform to a part of the day that has completely got out of control. Senator Birmingham is absolutely right; this is about the part of the day in which we should be dealing with motions that do not require debate. Increasingly, over recent years, this part of the day has been used and abused for a purpose that it was never intended for. Let's be very clear. There is no limit to the amount of motions that can be moved&#8212;no limit. You can move as many motions&#8212;</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Janet Rice</p>
  • <p>On a point of order, Deputy President: Minister Cormann is misleading the Senate, because this motion limits the number of motions.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Sue Lines</p>
  • <p>Senator Rice, please resume your seat. That is a debating point.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Mathias Cormann</p>
  • <p>For the information of all senators&#8212;in particular, Senator Rice&#8212;let me repeat it, again. There is no limit, no limit at all, to the number of motions that can be moved. There will be a limit to the number of motions that can be considered without debate. There will be a limit to the number of motions that can be considered without amendment, because the only way you can amend a formal business motion is with the leave of every single senator in this chamber. To give you a parallel, there is no limit to the number of questions that you can ask&#8212;no limit&#8212;but there is a limit to how many questions can be considered within one hour between 2 pm and 3 pm every day during a sitting week. That is the orderly business of the Senate. We're in a chamber where nobody has a majority. We do have to work with each other and we do have to treat each other with the appropriate level of courtesy in making this place work.</p>
  • <p>An honourable senator interjecting&#8212;</p>
  • <p>Well, the time of the day when we're dealing with formal business motions no longer works. It hasn't worked for some time. We have resisted, for a long time, the need to reform this part of the day. We have been reluctant to touch it. But you know what? We've been dealing with more than 50-odd motions, with hours and hours of motions that should not be dealt with without debate and without&#8212;</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Larissa Waters</p>
  • <p>A point of order, Deputy President: the reason there have been a few more motions lately is because we are barely here, because this government has shut down parliament.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Sue Lines</p>
  • <p>Senator Waters, that is a debating point.</p>
  • <p class='motion-notice motion-notice-truncated'>Long debate text truncated.</p>