Following the debate on the Greens’ National Integrity Commission Bill 2013 on 15th May 2014, Greens Senators have sought to completely mislead the public about Labor’s position on the creation of a 'federal ICAC'.
Here is exactly what happened in the Senate on 15th May.
The bill was introduced to the Senate on 13th November 2013 by Senator Milne as a private senators’ bill.
The bill came on for debate on Thursday 15th May 2014 during the time allotted for debate on private senators’ business.
You can read the debate at pages 1 to 19 of the Daily Hansard here.
After a mere five Senators had the opportunity to speak on the bill, Greens Senator Larissa Waters moved “That the question be now put” (see p.13). This is known as the 'Gag Motion' and its purpose is to shut down debate.
At the time, there were nineteen Senators wishing to speak on the bill. The motion to gag debate was put to a vote and was lost. The only Senators to vote in favour of the gag were the Greens.
The only three Labor Senators to speak on the bill in the time available on the day were Lisa Singh, John Faulkner, and myself.
Each of us spoke in favour of the creation of a 'federal ICAC', but not necessarily in the form proposed in the Greens’ bill.
I only got to speak after the Greens’ gag motion was defeated.
The only senators to speak unequivocally against the bill were members of the Coalition.
The day’s debate on the bill concluded at the expiry of the time allocated for private senators’ business and the bill will be re-listed for debate at a future date. The bill has not been rejected.
At the conclusion of the debate, Greens Senator Scott Ludlum tweeted that Labor and Coalition Senators combined to defeat the bill.
This was a lie.
This was followed by a press release from Senator Milne that claimed, “Labor and the Abbott government have joined forces to stand in the way of a national ICAC”.
This was not as clearly a lie as Senator Ludlum’s tweet but was equally misleading.
Of course, nothing of the sort had happened, but the intention of the Greens was not to have a serious debate on the bill, but to pull a political stunt.
What had happened was that a majority of Senators including Labor and the cross-bench had stood in the way of a Greens stunt to gag debate on what is a very important issue, one which Labor takes very seriously and one in which over a quarter of the Senate had expressed an interest in debating before the Greens attempted to shut it down.
I support the creation of a 'federal ICAC' and I am looking forward to the Senate continuing the debate on the bill.
It will be interesting to see if the Greens attempt to gag it again.