Crossbench Senators Jacqui Lambie and David Pocock are today attempting once again to break the deadlock over passage of the four least controversial elements of the government’s next tranche of industrial relations reform.
The Senators moved a motion in the Senate requesting a “conference” between the two houses of parliament.
Conferences between the Senate and the House of Representatives are a means of seeking agreement on a bill when the usual procedure of exchanging messages fails or is inadequate to promote a full understanding and agreement on the issues involved.
The last time this was attempted was 1950 and the last time a conference was successfully held was in 1932.
The Conference would include Senators Lambie and Pocock along with four Senators nominated by each of the major parties and two Greens senators.
Senators Pocock and Lambie said that with the bigger omnibus bill passing the House of Representatives today with more than X government amendments, there was no longer any reason to hold up passing the four private senators bills.
Senator Lambie said they would not give up on trying to see life saving changes pass before Christmas.
“Senator Pocock and I want these protections in place by Christmas, and Minister Burke can give these vulnerable Australians the support they need right now. All he has to do is put his big boy pants on and vote for his own legislation. It was a mistake putting these protections into a bill the government knew would be controversial and would therefore take time. I am sure that like Senator Pocock and I, Minister Burke wants what is best for the Australian people, sometimes that means admitting your mistakes and fixing them,” Senator Lambie said.
Senator Pocock urged the government to do the right thing and pass the bills before parliament rises for the summer recess.
“The four measures we are pushing have now been supported in both houses of parliament,” Senator Pocock said.
“I am asking Minister Burke to please, put First Responders first, put survivors of family and domestic violence first, and pass these elements which have the capacity to literally save lives.
“We saw amendments introduced into the House with more still to come which highlights the exact point Senator Lambie and I have been making - this big bil needs more time to get it right.”
This morning Senators Lambie and Pocock visited a husband and wife, who have both worked for a first responder agency.
The husband had 27 independent medical exams, which after the first dozen led to a heart attack. The wife has been fighting tooth and nail to get much-needed mental health supports, including in-patient treatment.
“The ongoing grief this system causes is shocking, it doesn’t just put stress on the people fighting the system, it puts stress on entire family units and support networks,” Senator Pocock said.
“We have an opportunity this week, or next week, to change it. We have the opportunity to better help first responders get the support they need as quickly as possible.”