Senate debates

Wednesday, 5 March 2014


Assistant Minister for Health; Censure

3:00 pm

Photo of Claire MooreClaire Moore (Queensland, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Women) Share this | Hansard source

The motion before the chair is for a suspension to debate a censure motion. You would not be able to pick that if you were listening to this debate, because that has not come up. We have proposed a censure motion because of a series of issues, one of which is a specific request today for a document relating to undertakings. That document was not brought forward, as is the usual process. We have been told consistently from those on the government side that, because a range of questions have been asked, that should be the end of the debate. We have been told that there is nothing to worry about, that there is no problem, and that we should end the debate. The last several minutes of this debate have not been about the substance of the issues. No, let us not go anywhere near the substance of the issues!

This debate is about whether or not there should be a suspension. We have not had that concluded. What we have had from those on the other side is a series of arguments about other cases. They say that we should not be asking for a suspension to debate this issue, because in other cases—which they have outlined in depth—nothing happened. I am completely confounded about why we go through this process. In trying to get information from the minister, we made a request, as a result of a series of actions by the opposition, for a censure motion to look at the substance of the issue. We have now heard comments from those on the other side about previous cases, along with dismissive comments from Senator Scullion about why people—'girls'—on this side of the chamber should not be involved in the debate.

We are asking for a suspension to allow us to move a motion to debate a censure motion. That is the question before the chair. We seek to continue to ask for information concerning actions in the minister's office. That is the process that we have sought to follow through Senate estimates and through a series of questions in this place to those on the other side—which has often resulted in more information being provided by the minister in dribs and drabs. We put forward a request for documentation yesterday but we did not get the document about which we were concerned. We got an attached letter which I believe said that information could not be shared because of privacy. We need to have those issues fully explained and debated.

As Senator Milne said in her contribution, it is all fine for us to have interchanges in this place, but people in the wider community need to know that issues of trust and ministerial responsibility are taken seriously in this chamber. What we are proposing is that there will be a debate—

Honourable senators interjecting—


No comments