Wednesday, 17 March 2021
Independent Inquiry into Sexual Assault Allegations
I seek leave to make a minor amendment to general business notion of motion No. 1064, which has been circulated in the chamber.
I, and also on behalf of Senator Rice, move the motion as amended:
(1) That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) on 15 March 2021 approximately 100,000 people, including survivors of gendered violence and allies, attended Women's March 4 Justice rallies around Australia,
(ii) a petition signed by 73,000 people calls for the following immediate actions:
(A) independent investigations into all cases of gendered violence, timely referrals to appropriate authorities, and full public accountability for findings,
(B) implementation of all 55 recommendations in the Australian Human Rights Commission's Respect@Work report,
(C) lift public funding for gendered violence prevention to world's best practice, and
(D) a Federal Gender Equality Act, including a gender equity audit of parliamentary practices, and
(iii) another petition signed by 93,000 people calls for:
(A) immediate suspension of the Attorney-General pending an independent inquiry,
(B) the Prime Minister to stop using language that trivialises rape and excuses perpetrators, and
(C) the Government to recognise the pain of misogyny and sexual assault and respect and believe victims; and
(b) calls on the Prime Minister to:
(i) establish an independent inquiry into whether the Attorney-
General is fit to remain in that role given rape allegations, and
(ii) urgently act in response to all other calls in the petitions.
(2) That this resolution be transmitted to the House of Representatives for concurrence.
The government would like to split the motion, having part (1)(a) considered separately from part (1)(b) and part (2). In doing so, I seek leave to make a short statement.
The Senate notes the sentiments and concerns of those who marched yesterday and signed related petitions. That's why, since 2013, the government has committed more than $1 billion to reduce violence against women and children and is working on the next national plan. Along with other measures to support staff, we've appointed the Sex Discrimination Commissioner to conduct an independent review into the workplaces of parliamentarians and their staff. Politicians, like all Australians, have the right to the presumption of innocence, and we cannot support a dangerous precedent to stand down an individual merely on the basis of an allegation.
The government has asked that clause (1)(a) be treated separately from clause (1)(b) and (2). The only hassle is that the covering clause of (1) says 'That the Senate'. I will just assume that can stand regardless of what happens. So, we are dealing with clause (1)(a)(i), (ii) and (iii), and then we'll deal with clauses (1)(b) and (2). So the question is that clause (1)(a) of motion No. 1064 be agreed to.
Question agreed to.
The question is that clauses (1)(b) and (2) of motion No. 1064 be agreed to.