Monday, 23 March 2020
Leave of Absence
I thought that a Labor member might request the call, but, regardless, I would just make a couple of observations about this and flag with you, President, that I will be asking that part (a) be put separately from parts (b), (c) and (d). That will be a request that I will be making of you. We don't believe it is appropriate to suspend effective until 11 August. There are other ways around this and we think that a suspension of effectively six months of the parliament is simply not warranted and justified under the current circumstances. Labor were very strong on this in the House of Representatives and in fact opposed this policy of the government, and Labor can speak for itself in this place, but the Greens, as we did in the other place, will be voting against this provision. We believe that the Senate timetable as previously agreed should be maintained and there are mechanisms available if sittings need to be postponed. That deals with clause (a).
I also flag with you, President, that we will be moving amendments to parts (b) and (c) which insert in each part, after the words 'Leader of the Opposition in the Senate', 'and the Leader of the Greens in the Senate'. We are the third party in this place. We are recognised as a party—that is, we have party status, recognised by the parliament—and we believe that our leader in the Senate, Senator Waters, ought to be involved in any discussions or mechanisms covered in part (b) and part (c) of this motion.