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Joyce, Sen Barnaby
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- Start of Business
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
Education: School Closures
(Mason, Sen Brett, Carr, Sen Kim)
(Bishop, Sen Mark, Sherry, Sen Nick)
(Payne, Sen Marise, Arbib, Sen Mark)
(Lundy, Sen Kate, Wong, Sen Penny)
(Fifield, Sen Mitchell, Arbib, Sen Mark)
Pulp and Paper Manufacturing Industry
(Brown, Sen Bob, Carr, Sen Kim)
(Troeth, Sen Judith, Conroy, Sen Stephen)
Building the Education Revolution Program
(Furner, Sen Mark, Carr, Sen Kim)
(Johnston, Sen David, Faulkner, Sen John)
(Forshaw, Sen Michael, Faulkner, Sen John)
- Education: School Closures
- QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE: ADDITIONAL ANSWERS
- QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE: TAKE NOTE OF ANSWERS
- LEAVE OF ABSENCE
- RESERVE BANK OF AUSTRALIA
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- MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE
- AUDITOR-GENERAL’S REPORTS
- EMPLOYMENT SERVICES CONTRACT 2009-12
FAIR WORK (TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS AND CONSEQUENTIAL AMENDMENTS) BILL 2009
GUARANTEE OF STATE AND TERRITORY BORROWING APPROPRIATION BILL 2009
- MIGRATION AMENDMENT (PROTECTION OF IDENTIFYING INFORMATION) BILL 2009
- TAX LAWS AMENDMENT (POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS AND GIFTS) BILL 2008
- DISSENT FROM RULING
CARBON POLLUTION REDUCTION SCHEME BILL 2009
CARBON POLLUTION REDUCTION SCHEME (CONSEQUENTIAL AMENDMENTS) BILL 2009
AUSTRALIAN CLIMATE CHANGE REGULATORY AUTHORITY BILL 2009
CARBON POLLUTION REDUCTION SCHEME (CHARGES-CUSTOMS) BILL 2009
CARBON POLLUTION REDUCTION SCHEME (CHARGES-EXCISE) BILL 2009
CARBON POLLUTION REDUCTION SCHEME (CHARGES-GENERAL) BILL 2009
CARBON POLLUTION REDUCTION SCHEME (CPRS FUEL CREDITS) BILL 2009
CARBON POLLUTION REDUCTION SCHEME (CPRS FUEL CREDITS) (CONSEQUENTIAL AMENDMENTS) BILL 2009
EXCISE TARIFF AMENDMENT (CARBON POLLUTION REDUCTION SCHEME) BILL 2009
CUSTOMS TARIFF AMENDMENT (CARBON POLLUTION REDUCTION SCHEME) BILL 2009
CARBON POLLUTION REDUCTION SCHEME AMENDMENT (HOUSEHOLD ASSISTANCE) BILL 2009
QUESTIONS ON NOTICE
(Cormann, Sen Mathias, Ludwig, Sen Joe)
(Cormann, Sen Mathias, Ludwig, Sen Joe)
(Ludlam, Sen Scott, Conroy, Sen Stephen)
(Ludlam, Sen Scott, Conroy, Sen Stephen)
Caring for our Country Program
(Cormann, Sen Mathias, Sherry, Sen Nick)
Deputy Prime Minister: Overseas Travel
(Abetz, Sen Eric, Carr, Sen Kim)
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
(Milne, Sen Christine, Wong, Sen Penny)
- Aged Care
Monday, 22 June 2009
Senator JOYCE (Leader of the Nationals in the Senate) (6:02 PM) —There are many places in this workplace, the parliament, where you can take children. In fact, virtually all of this Parliament House is accessible to children. You can take them to most places and in many cases you are encouraged to go there with them. But there is a special place in this parliament and it is the bar of the Senate. Go past that bar and you are in the voting section of this chamber—of course the attendants can go there too. There are 76 people in our nation who are elected to that bar and that is an incredible privilege. Everything about going beyond that bar of the Senate must be respected.
We have heard it asked: what are the alternatives to taking a child into the chamber for a vote? First of all, you can get a pair. Second of all, if you are stuck without a pair, you can stand out of bounds and ask for a pair, and I am sure you would get one. There are staff members who could look after kids. So many of us here have children. I have four children and I would love to bring my children down here. Since 1 January this year, apart from the week I was sick, I have spent seven days at my own house. I would like to spend some more time with my children. But this is the sacrifice that you make when you come here. When you get to stick that red pin in your lapel, you have to make that sacrifice. It is an incredible honour.
In this debate we are entering into all sorts of confusions. If you can take in a baby, when does a baby become a toddler? When is a toddler no longer a toddler? I have heard the argument, ‘It was only a minor division.’ When is it a minor division or a major division? When is an important issue not an important issue? And there are other members of our families apart from children. Could we take in other members of our family who are sick if we wanted to? These are the sorts of questions and confusions that come into this debate when you start breaking the rules.
I have heard it said that we must treat this place like we have heard it described in metaphors. ‘It is like court.’ How would you feel if you went to a court and you saw the judge with their child there for the day because they thought it was a minor case, or if the defence attorney turned up with their kid because they thought the case was not that important? Who knows when something is important and when it is not important. It is determined by the issue.
I heard the accusation that I was not in the chamber then. I can tell you why I was not in the chamber. It was a motion about junk food that we knew did not have legs and I had an interview at the time with some people, so I remained in that interview—as so many senators do in this place when they see motions moved by the Greens. If other things are happening that are more important and you do not want to be going backwards and forwards from an interview with constituents or with groups who want to be represented, then you are better off getting to the conclusion of the interview because your vote is not vital in the chamber at that point in time. That was the case for Senator Hanson-Young: her vote was not vital; it was not going to determine a change in that vote that day.
This accusation has also been made: how dare I say this was a stunt? I would not have said so, if it had been another party. The Greens are known for their stunts. The Greens are a party that embellish so much of what they do with stunts. They cannot be the party that cries wolf and, at the same time, get upset one day when something backfires on them. People have a sense of cynicism about so much of what the Greens do. This action was all of a sudden followed up by a doorstop at the Senate door and then non-stop media the next day—in fact, more media than the Prime Minister got, and he was being accused of a whole range of other issues. The natural inclination is to say, ‘There is something that does not smell correct about this.’
The other issue, of course, is that it impinged on the great sympathy of this place, but when Senator Brown reached out and grabbed Senator Hanson-Young’s arm it turned from an issue that could have been dealt with expediently into a wider issue. It did then turn into a political issue. There are so many people in the workplace who want to take their child to work—for example, at a bank or at an accountancy practice—that we in this place have to be extremely careful not to see ourselves as somehow of a different ilk when we have to go through the trials and tribulations that other people in workplaces around Australia have to go through in their day-to-day lives. Quite obviously, no-one wants to see a child distressed and no-one wants to see a senator distressed, but it is a two-way street.
This issue could have been resolved. Senator Brown knows the processes of this place back to front. If anybody knows the standing orders in this joint, Senator Brown does. Senator Brown had a duty, as the leader of his party, to warn his party member: ‘Do you understand that at this point you are in breach of standing order 175? Just be warned about that. It might be wiser at this point to try to get a pair. You could quickly get one. Senator Williams is the whip; get a pair right now.’ There were processes in place that Senator Brown, as the leader of his party, had at his disposal to effect, but he chose not to. He chose to turn it into a display by dissenting from the President’s ruling, which took it to another level. And when, Senator Brown, you choose to take it to another level you cannot complain about what comes next. What we had before us was dissent from the President’s ruling, but the President was doing no more than enforcing standing order 175. In fact, that is the duty of the President: to enforce the standing orders.
We have to be extremely careful, because the eyes of Australia are watching this. You can see from blog sites, polling and a whole range of things that the public take exception if they feel we are bending the rules for ourselves. It works against us. Does this place have no sympathy or sense of inclusion for children? Quite obviously that is not the case. We have a multimillion dollar childcare facility in this building. A huge investment has been made in the capacity of this workplace to deal with children. But, like in all workplaces and all facets of life, there are lines that cannot be crossed. The line here is not even at the door; the line is at the bar of the Senate, which you cannot go beyond unless you are a senator or an attendant.
People say, ‘You have to show latitude at certain times.’ It does not matter how slowly I am driving my car and how quiet the street is; if my child is in the front seat and the police drive past I will be picked up. I cannot say to the policeman, ‘You’ve got to show me latitude.’ He will just say, ‘This is the law; this is why we have it; you are booked.’ So why should we have an exception to the rule here that people in the street cannot get from day to day in their lives?’ This is the reality of life.
We should do everything we possibly can in this place to involve children and to involve the family in the process. I have often spoken about remote voting and having things online to give us greater capacity to spend time with our families. I do not get much support for that. These are some of the issues. Nonetheless, I made the sacrifice, decided to come here, decided to stick that red pin in my lapel—but so did everybody else in this chamber. For that we make sacrifices, and for those sacrifices we get paid $127,600 per year with a $32,000 allowance and a minimum of four staff. With those resources at your disposal, with the resources in this building such as the childcare facility, with the knowledge you have of the chamber and with the support and guidance of the leader of your party, you should be prepared to come in here knowing that only you are authorised to go beyond the bar.