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Thursday, 24 June 2021
Page: 108

Senator SIEWERT (Western AustraliaAustralian Greens Whip) (17:25): This is an act of bastardry by the two major parties. That's plain and simple. This complicated motion came in at 4.45 pm. It's now 5.25 pm. We haven't had time to properly read this. We agreed in the Procedure Committee that this proposal would go out for comment to senators. Guess when it went out? Yesterday morning. Then, yesterday afternoon, what happened? Senator Duniam came in with a handwritten note saying he will bring in a proposal tomorrow to deal with motions. We came in this morning—no motion, nothing. They were still making it up. Then what happened? We got in at 4.45 pm and there was the motion, the motion where the majors gang up to silence the crossbench. That is outrageous. They know that very well. Labor have already been absenting themselves from the chamber when they can't make a decision on these motions. They disappear out the door because they don't want to be held accountable by the electorate.

Let's look at some of the things that have been achieved through motions: the disability royal commission; the banking royal commission; action on petrol sniffing. Those are the sorts of things that have been achieved through using motions, because that is how you get pressure on the government and pressure on the opposition—whoever is in government. This has happened on both sides of the chamber, when both the major parties have been in government. They don't want to be held accountable, and that's what this is about, folks. For those listening out there, these two major parties do not want to be held accountable.

This is one of the levers that we use, through a democratic process, to try to achieve change. And we have. We have achieved change this way. By bringing motions into this place, we achieved the banking royal commission. We brought motions into this place for a long time on violence and abuse against disabled people and veterans. We wouldn't have got action if we hadn't been able to bring those motions to this chamber.

This is an act of bastardry carried out by the major parties. It is simply outrageous. We will fight this. We were supposed to be considering this at the end of the first sitting week in August. But what the government and the opposition—the so-called opposition—want to do is to deal with it now, in the dying hours of the last week of sitting in June. They think that everyone will forget before we get back here in August. We're not going to forget it. We're going to make sure the public remember what these two parties are doing to democracy in this country by ramming this through in the last hours of the last sitting day of the winter session. It is outrageous.