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Monday, 29 February 2016
Page: 1238


Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (10:41): Mr President, I thank you for your statement, which the opposition will obviously study carefully. We also concur with your decision to send this matter to the Procedure Committee. I just want to make this point and make sure I have understood your statement. It seems to me that the nub of the statement is that it is difficult for a chair to prevent the senator from quoting language or require its withdrawal if the language used is strictly necessary to make the point. I would suggest to the chamber that it would have been equally appropriate for Senator Cash to talk about the fact that homophobic and hateful language was used, or allegedly used—I am not sure whether this was an allegation or a finding; I cannot recall now—rather than the actual words. You might recall, Mr President, that in fact the footage that ran on the television that night was of those words being said in the Senate chamber. The government may believe there is a political advantage in that. Leaving political advantage or disadvantage aside, it is not the Senate I think most senators would want the community to see.