Senate debates

Tuesday, 2 August 2022


Standing Order 175

1:50 pm

Photo of Jordon Steele-JohnJordon Steele-John (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

Disabled people deserve access to this parliament. Why is this concept one which every single Labor or Liberal government finds so confronting? This week my colleagues Senator David Pocock and Senator David Shoebridge requested an Auslan interpreter to join them in the Senate to interpret their first speeches. This request was denied. Their request was denied because your rules are based on an old, ableist way of doing things: the rules that say that this parliament must deny the request to avoid setting a precedent of a stranger on the floor. To me, yet again they have denied disabled people the opportunity for genuine inclusion in this place. The Procedures Committee are set to review these ableist rules, and it is about damn time they do so. If you think that captioning is good enough for deaf and other Auslan-using people to access parliamentary feeds, you are wrong; if you think that relegating an interpreter to another room to provide their service is good enough, you are wrong; and, if you think that what you've granted today, an on-screen interpreter, is good enough when an in-person interpreter was requested, you are wrong. Let me also add that, if you think this allowance is a one-off, you are wrong. Why should anyone who is travelling to the parliament be denied access in their own language? Auslan interpreting should be offered during every sitting, every speech, every time.