Thursday, 29 November 2018
Parliamentary Code of Conduct
Pursuant to contingent notice, I move:
That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent me moving a motion to provide for the consideration of a matter, namely a motion relating to the Parliamentary Code of Conduct.
Pursuant to the temporary order adopted yesterday, that motion is now put without debate or amendment. This is a motion to suspend standing orders to allow consideration of the motion that Senator Di Natale would like to move. The question is whether to suspend standing orders.
Question agreed to.
I move general business notice of motion No. 1262:
(1) That the Senate adopts the following Code of Conduct, for inclusion in the Senate standing orders:
Parliamentary Code of Conduct
The (House of Representatives and the) Senate have reached agreement on a Code of Conduct which is to apply to all members of Parliament.
Members of Parliament recognise that they are in a unique position of responsibility in influencing the nature of civic conduct in Australia.
Members of Parliament recognise that their words and actions in the Senate (and the House of Representatives) influence issues in the public debate, and these include issues relating to multicultural affairs, migration and citizenship, gender equality and professional conduct in the workplace.
Members of Parliament acknowledge that parliamentary privilege protects the right of members to participate freely in debate in the Parliament without fear of prosecution.
Members of Parliament recognise the need to exercise their valuable right of freedom of speech in a responsible manner, and a failure to do so may have serious implications for individuals and groups of the Australian community and may diminish the social cohesion that is essential to our national character.
1. Uphold the honour of Public Office
(a) Members of Parliament will take all reasonable steps to represent public office in a manner that is consistent with the values of respect and inclusion; and
(b) this includes behaviour and language during parliamentary proceedings, including interactions with parliamentary and electorate officer staff.
(a) Members of Parliament recognise the value and contribution of the First Peoples of Australia, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; and
(b) Members of Parliament recognise that with the exception of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, Australia is a nation of migrants.
3. Respect Australians ' diversity
(a) Members of Parliament recognise that Australia has been enriched by the diversity of colour, ethnic origin, culture and religious belief that exists within our nation; and
(b) Members of Parliament recognise that principles, including respect for religious and cultural diversity, tolerance and justice, should be upheld in parliamentary debate in a respectful manner.
4. Respect gender equality and diversity
(a) Members of Parliament recognise that women and LGBTIQ+ individuals are more likely to experience gender inequality and discrimination in the workplace;
(b) Members of Parliament recognise that the Australian Parliament, including the Senate and House of Representatives Chamber, is the primary workplace for elected representatives; and
(c) Female and elected representatives from LGBTIQ+ communities should be free from gender and sexuality-based bullying, harassment or abuse of any kind in their workplace.
5. Reject discriminatory or exclusionary statements
(a) Members of Parliament will not knowingly humiliate or degrade an individual or community based on their colour, national or ethnic origin, culture, religious belief, gender or sexual orientation; and
(b) this includes acts which are intended to incite hatred or create fear of a community.
(2) That this resolution be communicated to the House of Representatives for concurrence.
by leave—I move the following amendment to the motion:
Omit "That the Senate adopts the following Code of Conduct, for inclusion in the Senate standing orders:"
Substitute "That the Senate acknowledges the proposal for the following Code of Conduct:"
Omit paragraph (2), substitute the following:
(2) That this matter be referred to the Procedure Committee for consideration and report by 14 February 2019.
Recognising that standing orders 193 and 203 already regulate conduct in this chamber, as we've seen this week, the opposition supports referring the proposed code of conduct back to the Procedure Committee for further deliberation. As Senator Wong said yesterday, the approach Labor takes is very clear. We will not tolerate sexist and abusive behaviour. We will not tolerate it in the Senate and we will not tolerate it anywhere. We also believe that parliament cannot function without respect for the presiding officers and the rules the parliament has agreed to regarding appropriate behaviour, but the Senate itself will not be respected if the behaviours exhibited here demean it. That goes not only to rules but also to standards and expectations. We fully support the comments of the President in his statements to the chamber yesterday and in August this year and welcome the response from the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
In response to a couple of comments by Di Natale I refer to section 2(b):
I take offence to that. I was born here. This is my country as much as anyone else's, and I do not regard myself as a migrant. Also I'm asking for clarification on section 4(c), where it states 'Female and elected representatives from LGBTIQ-plus communities'. I need a 'please explain' on 'Q-plus', because I have no understanding of what that is about, to make a decision in the parliament with regard to 'Q-plus'. And I'd like to know why the men of this parliament are not included in this. It is sexist in itself to refer to females only. So, I will not be supporting this. I also refer to section 1(b), about the behaviour and language in the parliament. I draw attention to the fact that Senator Di Natale was the first one to be thrown out of this parliament for his behaviour. (Time expired)
The less said about the most recent contribution the better. I'll just give a bit of history on this code of conduct motion. We introduced a code of conduct motion back in 2017 when a senator wore a burqa into the Senate. That code of conduct was referred to the Procedure Committee in December 2017, and the recommendation back from the Procedure Committee was that voluntary codes should be adopted by each party. We reject that. The Australian Greens believe there should be a compulsory code of conduct for all of us to support. I introduced a code of conduct motion back in 2018 in response to a previous senator talking about the 'final solution'. The reality is that the status quo is not working. We're continuing to see statements that are sexist and racist. We are continuing the see statements that are anti-Semitic. This is a workplace for many people. The current situation is not working. To defer this to the Procedure Committee is to say no to a compulsory code of conduct. We believe the parliament needs one. (Time expired)
I'd just like to address a few points that were raised over the last few days. Greens Senators Hanson-Young and Di Natale have accused me of making sexist and derogatory remarks. In the year that I've been here, I've never denigrated anyone in this place; nor will I. And I challenge them to point out when and where and to whom. Just because you yell a lie loud enough and for long enough, you expect it to be the truth. It's still a lie. Thank you.