Monday, 11 September 2023
Overthrow of Chilean Government: 50th Anniversary
I second the motion. There are two critical reasons that this should be debated today, in addition to the excellent contribution from the member for Griffith, which I endorse. One is, of course, that today is the anniversary. Given that this is a motion that is relevant to the anniversary, it's a motion that needs to be debated today, and that's why standing and sessional orders need to be suspended.
The second is that this is private members' day. Monday is when all the private members' business is conducted. Post last election, we are in a situation where roughly a third of the country, or a bit less, votes for the government; roughly a third of the country, or a bit more, votes for the opposition; and a third of the country votes for someone else. We're represented in here, on this large crossbench, in numbers that have never before been seen in this parliament. As I say, a third of the country wants third voices here.
On Mondays, we get an opportunity—a very limited opportunity—to have our say. Ordinarily, we get to respond to government bills and we might get to respond to matters that the opposition raises, but there's precious limited time for us here in the crossbench representing, diversely, a third of the country and carrying the interests of many, many more on issues that the major parties don't want to talk about. We get a very small window of opportunity to bring forward to this place the things that we want to debate. When we say in the limited slot that is given to us we want to debate a particular motion—especially given that it falls on a particular day and we have put in place, with a very long lead time, the work necessary to ensure that we get our motion in on time and have the capacity to debate it on that day—we should be allowed to debate it.
I say that about other members of the crossbench and members of the parliament who will bring things to this place that we might disagree with. Surely the purpose of allowing private members to bring matters for debate in this place is to have them debated? You can stand up and oppose it, but they shouldn't be prevented from bringing it up.
This is an issue that could have been fixed and could have been addressed. We find ourselves in a situation now where we weren't able to debate the motion that the Greens sought to have debated. I hope that this is the last time that this happens. To my knowledge, it's close to the first time that it's happened that private members haven't been able to have the motion of their choice debated in this place. In a parliament where there is a strong desire from the Australian people to see issues brought up and debated that the others won't touch, it makes it more important that members of the crossbench who want to bring private members' motions are able to do so without concern that they're going to be told, 'No, that motion is not acceptable for debate.' As I say and as the member for Griffith says, it doesn't mean it's going to get passed; it just means it's going to be debated, in a limited slot.
I would say this, too: if we actually had in this parliament representation that was reflective of the true will of the people of the country, then we'd probably spend a third of our time debating issues that members of the crossbench want to bring up. That's how many people are now fed up with the establishment parties and are saying, 'Let's put other issues on the table.' What you also find is that the issues we bring here are issues that 80 per cent of people agree with. These are things like wanting to freeze and cap rents, things like wanting a national anticorruption commission—for a long time we were the ones whistling in the wind about that—and things like marriage equality. We started to break the stranglehold of the establishment parties on marriage equality when a private member's motion—mine—was brought into this place, with the Greens representing the will of so many people.
The ability to bring private members' motions here is important. In many instances these motions end up being what the parliament ultimately agrees on, because we break the stranglehold of the establishment parties, but that can only happen if we're able to bring motions here when we want them. As I say, I hope we don't have to find ourselves on our feet again, having to resort to suspending standing orders, to be able to bring our issues to the parliament's attention. It's critical that we do this today. It's private members' business day and it's also the anniversary.