Tuesday, 26 July 2022
Parliamentary Office Holders
Deputy President and Chair of Committees
My fellow senators, I seek your support for election to the position of Deputy President. I ask senators to think of me kindly and to have regard for my work as temporary chair and my work as chair of other committees during my time in the Senate. I hope that, when you turn your minds to this, it will be a testament to the dedication that I will bring to the role. If I am successful at ballot, I will do all I can to support the President, who is a senator I hold in the highest regard.
Thank you, President. I come to the Senate today to seek your support to be elected to the position of Deputy President of the Senate. If you were to elect me to this role, a person who identifies openly as a disabled person, it would be a historic moment.
The Deputy President of the Senate is a leadership role in this place. Appointing a disabled person to this position would send a very clear message to disabled people across the country. It would send a message that disabled people belong in politics and that disabled people are able and are trusted to lead. It would send a message that this government, the opposition and the newly appointed crossbench are committed to centring disabled people and, from day one, will waste no time in breaking down the structural ableism that disabled people experience each and every day as a result of the decisions made in this place.
I am proud to have the support of my Greens colleagues to put myself forward for this position today. The Greens will always prioritise and promote upholding the voices of disabled people in this place. I encourage every member of the Senate to take this opportunity to do the same.
A ballot will now be held. Before proceeding to ballot, the bells will be rung for four minutes.
The bells having been rung
The Senate will now proceed to ballot. Please write on the ballot paper the name of the candidate you wish to vote for. The candidates are Senator McLachlan and Senator Steele-John. I now invite Senators Askew and McKim to act as scrutineers.
A ballot having been taken—
Order! The result of the ballot is as follows: Senator McLachlan, 57 votes; and Senator Steele-John, 13 votes. Senator McLachlan is therefore elected Deputy President and Chair of Committees in accordance with the standing orders. I look forward to working with you, Senator McLachlan.
An honourable senator interjecting
government. I'm still getting used to saying that! There might be a few faux pas for a little while!
I did note this morning, following the election of President, the longstanding convention as to the government of the day nominating the President and the opposition of the day nominating the Deputy President and Chair of Committees. I want to make a comment about that, because there were a couple of interjections. It's a reflection of the Westminster system. It's a reflection that, under our system, a party forms government and a party forms opposition. A party forms opposition. If somebody else formed a government or an opposition one day, the same convention presumably would apply. It reflects—
Honourable senators interjecting—
respectful debate on something where we are electing the Deputy President. It is a reflection of a Westminster system, which, in this chamber, also recognises that no single party of government, as I said, holds the majority—generally—in the chamber.
I'll make a couple of comments about Senator McLachlan. He may have only served in this chamber since 2020, but he had been a member of the Legislative Council in our home state of South Australia for some time prior to that. I do want to say—and this is no disrespect to you, President—that I'm delighted that another South Australian is taking a leadership role in this place. I note—
An honourable senator interjecting—
The Tasmanians have got the whips sewn up though! He's also served as president of the legislative council for a couple of years. I think that role, his experience in presiding in that role, has been evident in his work in this chamber. I look forward to working with you. We hope you and the President will form a very good team in the way that we've seen under previous presidents and deputy presidents, a very collegiate approach to the management of the chamber, and I look forward to your fair and inclusive chairing continuing. The government congratulates you, Senator McLachlan, and we wish you all the best in your role.
I echo the remarks of Senator Wong, who has indeed touched on the many attributes that I'm sure Senator McLachlan will bring to serving alongside you, President, as the Deputy President in this chamber. His experience stretches far beyond his service in this place, which has been distinguished and active but, indeed, it's an experience that does stretch, as Senator Wong has acknowledged, into the South Australian parliament and to serving as a presiding officer in that parliament.
I know that he will bring a sense of duty and a commitment to the impartiality of the chair, in working alongside you, that he will work as diligently as possible in the different roles that you and he undertake, particularly his roles in relation to Senate committees and the Chair of Committees in this place. I thank the Senate for its support of Senator McLachlan and the government for its continued recognition of the conventions of the Senate of this place, of our system of government, to which we remain equally committed.
The Greens rise to congratulate Senator McLachlan on his appointment as Deputy President and Chair of Committees. We're, of course, disappointed that our outstanding Senator Steele-John, a proud disabled man, has not been successful in this role. It would have sent a really powerful message of inclusion to the entire community. We also look forward to entering this century and becoming a republic.
by leave—I would just like to quickly thank my fellow senators for placing trust in me, and I undertake to you that I will work faithfully and diligently to advance the interests of the Senate. Madam President, I congratulate you on your election earlier today and I look forward to working with you.
Thank you. There being no further speakers, we will now move on to the appointment of Temporary Chairs of Committees.
Temporary Chairs of Committees
Pursuant to standing order 12, I lay on the table a warrant nominating senators as Temporary Chairs of Committees when the Deputy President and Chair of committees is absent.