Thursday, 7 December 2017
Parliament House Passholders
That the Senate—
(a) notes that, on 5 December 2017, certain staff members of Senator Rhiannon's office verbally abused an official guest of Senator Leyonhjelm;
(b) condemns the actions of those staff members;
(c) observes that senators host guests on a regular basis who might be persons whom other senators or their staff might dislike, or with whom they might disagree;
(d) recognises that access to private areas of Parliament House is a privilege;
(e) requires all passholders to honour the expected courtesy and respect for differences of opinion that comes with the granting of passes;
(f) calls upon all senators to exercise discipline over their staff; and
(g) urges the respectful conduct of senators, their staff and events they participate in within Parliament House.
The government supports the motion. Practising freedom of speech requires that we allow others to do likewise, free from any hindrance or obstruction. It is a privilege for all members, senators and staff to work in this building, and it is deeply regrettable that some members of staff would seek to abuse that privilege by behaving in the manner we witnessed this week. Shame on them.
Labor will not be supporting this motion. Senator Bernardi has asked the Senate to make a judgement about the conduct of senators. Earlier today, he read into Hansard unsubstantiated claims that Senator Dastyari was facing court action over a substantial debt. These allegations are based on a statement of claim that refers to debts, addresses and identities that do not exist and events that Senator Dastyari says never happened. The claim is vexatious. Senator Dastyari is taking action to have this matter struck out, and the plaintiffs referred to the appropriate authorities. The Turnbull government is also making offensive and insulting comments in the media and in the other place about Senator Dastyari's heritage. The comments of the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection represent a new low, even for the government. If Senator Bernardi is serious about standards of conduct, he should look at those of his former colleagues in the Turnbull government. (Time expired)