Tuesday, 26 June 2018
Downer, Hon. Alexander JG, AC
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) the Australian Financial Review published on 25 June 2018 an opinion piece by the Hon Alexander Downer entitled "An undemocratic motley crew with too much power",
(ii) in the opinion piece, Mr Downer referred to the Senate as not having "the same democratic legitimacy as the lower house",
(iii) Mr Downer took issue with the presumption from some current and former senators that "they think they have the same rights as lower house members", and
(iv) Mr Downer endorsed the Constitutional Review Committee's recommendation to provide the Parliament with the power to reduce the number of senators by as much as half;
(b) further notes that:
(i) 40 per cent of voters from Mr Downer's home state—South Australia—voted in the Senate for a party other than Labor or the Liberal Party at the 2016 election, and
(ii) Mr Downer crudely slanders this clear expression of the will of the South Australian public by arguing the crossbench is nothing more than "a motley group of populists who convince voters to vote for them by promising the world", and
(c) rejects this interjection as the latest example of the Downer dynasty talking down the ability of the South Australian public to make an informed and considered voting decision.
The government acknowledges that senators are elected through a legitimate democratic voting method and recognises and respects the role of the Senate as a house of review and the states' house in the Australian parliamentary system. The government will continue to engage respectfully with all senators to secure the passage of its legislative agenda.
Question agreed to.