Tuesday, 22 June 2021
Parliament House: Functions
I, and also on behalf of Senator Steele-John, move:
(1) That the Senate—
(a) notes that, on budget night, the Great Hall of Parliament was booked by the New South Wales Liberal Party who paid $67,700 to hire the venue for a political fundraising event, with the Treasurer and Finance Minister in attendance for several billionaires and rich-listers, company executives and directors to get personalised insights and briefings on the budget;
(b) acknowledges that the Parliament is owned by the Australian people and that it represents 'The People's House' and, as such, should not be used for private political fundraising activities; and
(c) instructs the Presiding Officers to amend the 'Use of Parliament House facilities for events' to no longer permit the use of any part of Parliament House for private, political fundraising activities, so that it aligns with the rules prohibiting electorate offices being used for such purposes.
(2) That this resolution be transmitted to the House of Representatives for concurrence.
I seek leave to make a short statement.
Labor won't be supporting this motion. We think it's an area for reform and we are willing to engage in discussions in good faith with all parties, but we do not believe it should be transacted through a motion in the Senate which doesn't allow for any of those discussions. We've been clear and consistent on our policies for accountability and transparency on political donations. However, we believe any change, if we are after serious change, requires more consideration than a motion in a part of a program where it can't be discussed.
Given the motion seeks to direct me, I'm going to seek leave to make a short statement too.
Events at Parliament House described by this motion, including venue hire, catering and security, are provided on a strictly commercial basis. There is no subsidy provided whatsoever. In fact, prohibiting such venue hire would prove detrimental to the operations of Parliament House through the loss of revenue such events bring in. Furthermore, the application of such a policy change is not immediately clear cut, as 'private political fundraising activities' can apply much more widely than simply to political parties—for example, to organisations that undertake disclosable political expenditure and activities while not formally standing candidates for election.
The question is that motion No. 1158 be agreed to.