Lines attributable to Senator Larissa Waters:
This is a shameful day for this government and the Australian Parliament.
There are unresolved rape allegations against a Cabinet Minister and this government has taken an almost unprecedented decision to prevent us progressing a bill which would establish an independent inquiry to test those allegations.
While Jo Dyer, a close friend of the woman who made the accusations, sat in the chamber, the government, with support from One Nation and Jacqui Lambie, made a mockery of our democracy by effectively blocking the Bill from progressing.
To our knowledge this has only happened five times in the history of the Senate. One of those times was to stop Fraser Anning calling an abhorrent plebiscite to debate whether to restrict non-European immigration. To put this Bill in the same category is an insult to Kate’s friends and family, survivors of rape and all Australian women.
This is an astonishing abuse of process. It is parliament’s job to debate important issues in the public interest. Whether a Bill passes is a matter for parliament, but denying the opportunity even for Bills to be progressed and debated is not how democracy works.
It goes to show just how low the Morrison Government is prepared to go to avoid scrutiny. If Minister Porter really wanted the opportunity to clear his name, the government would allow this bill to progress and face the scrutiny of the parliamentary process.
We are still able to move for this bill to be referred to committee for an inquiry, which is what we will do, and will also seek to reintroduce the bill - over and over again if we have to. We won’t let this go.