Senate debates

Tuesday, 8 August 2017


Asylum Seekers

1:07 pm

Photo of Katy GallagherKaty Gallagher (ACT, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

Labor won't be agreeing to support the suspension of standing orders this afternoon. Primarily, it goes to reasons I have outlined when similar motions have been called on without any notice in this chamber through this term of parliament. It goes to the fact that we have had no notice of this. There has been no discussion and no forewarning about the intentions of Senator McKim and his desire to move this motion. I would say that this chamber, as senators know, relies on relationships and discussion so that we can, at times, support each other with particular positions or policies or motions that we want to see moved through the Senate. When those customs are not observed, in any way, it puts everyone in a very difficult position. We have no idea what the motion was that you wanted to move, Senator McKim. It was not circulated. It was not discussed with the Labor Party.

We note there is a desire by the Greens, particularly, to move these types of motions without notice. I do wonder whether it is more about being able to make a statement and then leave all of us here without any knowledge of what the bigger or longer and more worthwhile debate might have been had we been given notice. There are motions to be moved that our parties can use. There are senators' statements. There is private senators' time. There are a range of different parts of the Senate sitting schedule that allow for proper and orderly debate on matters of such importance, such as the management of Manus and Nauru—in this case, how people who are living there are being treated.

In the case that Senator McKim has raised about a death, of course we all extend our most sincere condolences to that individual's family, but, if we are to have a larger debate, it needs to be done with proper process and in accordance with proper standing orders. Those have not been followed in any way. I would urge Senator McKim, in particular, that if he is of a mind to move motions like this to please come and speak with me, as the Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate, or other senators in this place so that at least we can have the opportunity to discuss how this debate should roll out. It is an important debate. Labor have been on the record about concerns we've had with the management of Manus and Nauru. We do want to see people who are currently being held there resettled to third countries. It is an important discussion and one that is worthy of the Senate's time but not in the manner with which it has been forced upon us this afternoon.


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