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Thursday, 22 March 2012
Page: 2591


Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (13:00): I seek leave to make a short statement.

The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.

Senator ABETZ: Mr President, at the very heart of this motion is the expression of confidence in your handling of the recent privileges issue, which has been so derogatorily referred to by Senator Bob Brown, referring to 'Your very poor presidential management' and saying that there would be more of it. Previously he referred to 'this inadequate President'. If the Senate is going to have any respect for the position of President and the current occupant of it, this motion is in fact a job lot. If you do express confidence, how on earth can you then not express dismay? And it was not even a motion of condemnation or censure; it was simply an issue of dismay. These two matters are inextricably interlinked.

The PRESIDENT: I understand that Senator Xenophon has sought that the motion be split into two parts. The two parts would be, I presume, part (a) being put and then part (b), in which case, in motion 723, the first paragraph is the question that is being put before the Senate.

Senator Bob Brown: There has been no agreement by the—

The PRESIDENT: Senator Bob Brown, is this a point of order?

Senator Bob Brown: Yes. I think you are about to agree to Senator Xenophon's request, but the chamber has not given assent to that.

The PRESIDENT: It is at the discretion of the chair, Senator Bob Brown.

Senator Bob Brown: Then the chair may use your discretion on the matter.

The PRESIDENT: Yes.

Senator Bob Brown: In which case I find myself in the unfamiliar territory of agreeing with Senator Abetz, in that the motion should be put in toto.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Xenophon has put a reasonable request before the chair. I believe that that should be acceded to. It is reasonable if Senator Xenophon wants to vote different ways on different parts of the matter. Senator Xenophon, is that the basis behind your request?

Senator Xenophon: Yes, it is, Mr President.

The PRESIDENT: I will put the question. I will first put the question on paragraph (a), which is:

That the Senate—

(a)   expresses confidence in the President's handling of the recent privileges issue for which Senator Kroger sought precedence; …

The question therefore is that that be agreed to.