Senate debates

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Bills

Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017; In Committee

7:12 pm

Photo of Ian MacdonaldIan Macdonald (Queensland, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

) ( ): (In division) Madam Chair, perhaps I'm a little late, but, again, can we vote on these amendments separately, because I agree with all but the last of the proposals here?

The CHAIR: Just so we're clear, do you mean amendment (10) on sheet 8327?

The right to remove children from schools. I do agree with that, but not in this bill.

The CHAIR: As I understand it, Senator Macdonald, it is clause 88R within amendment (8). You would need to seek leave because we are now in the division.

I seek leave to have that one voted on separately.

The CHAIR: Yes, you need the leave of the committee. Is leave granted? Sorry, Senator Macdonald, leave is not granted.

I didn't hear that, Madam Chair. Did someone refuse?

The CHAIR: Yes, Senator Macdonald. As you know, only the one voice is required, and there was at least one voice. Before returning to further amendments, I want to address the point of order taken by Senator Macdonald when the committee reported prior to question time.

It is appropriate for me, as Chair of Committees, to rule on points of order in relation to committee proceedings, although I appreciate that the timing of the proceedings meant it was opportune of Senator Macdonald to raise the issue when he did. Senator Macdonald had sought to have the question dealt with before question time further divided for a group of amendments before the committee on which the committee had already proceeded to divide. As noted in Odgers' Australian Senate Practice at page 283:

In practice, the chair divides a question … at the request of any senator, so that no senator is compelled to vote for or against two or more proposals in relation to which they may wish to vote differently.

It can be difficult to implement that practice, however, where the request to divide a question is not made prior to the question being put by the Chair. In addition, it is not possible for the Chair to divide a question once a division has been called on the original question unless leave is granted to call off the division. This is provided for in standing order 99(3).

As has now become clear, Senator Macdonald wished to vote differently on one amendment, which I understand has now been identified as amendment (7) on sheet 8326. As the question in relation to the amendment has now been determined, the vote cannot be put again except by leave. After my discussions earlier with Senator Macdonald, however, it is my intention to give Senator Macdonald the call, if he so wishes, so that he has an opportunity now to indicate on the record how he would have voted differently. Senator Macdonald, do you wish to take the call?

Thank you, Madam Chair. I appreciate the courtesy and also the courtesy of you speaking to me before. I think you indicated that, by leave, I could call for the vote to be reheld, but clearly it would haven't made any difference to the outcome. I did in taking the point of order make my point clear, but I appreciate the opportunity to make it absolutely clear on the previous set of amendments. The amendment dealing with the definition of marriage I would have voted against but for the other provisions, and that's why I wanted them divided. Similarly, while I'm on my feet, can I say in relation to the ones we've just dealt with now that, whilst I agree with the last of the amendments—about giving parents the right to take children out of school—I don't think it's appropriate in this legislation, so I would have voted against that on this legislation if we could have put the vote again. But the Labor Party refused leave to put the vote again, and so I've had to vote against all of those. That's probably not what I would have done had it been possible to divide them. Thank you for the opportunity, Chair.

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