A motion to express the Senate’s displeasure with the Attorney-General George Brandis’s treatment of Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs using head movements has passed the Senate 35-32.
The motion was brought to the Senate floor by Labor Senator Penny Wong. The leader of the opposition in the Senate expressed clear displeasure with Senator Brandis’ treatment of Ms Triggs and urged the Senate to employ every form of body language available to let the Attorney-General know that they’re unimpressed with his performance.
“We in the Senate do not ‘tut’ lightly, and to receive two ‘tuts’ should show [Senator Brandis] that we are deadly serious,” Ms Wong said.
The motion passed with the support of Labor, Jacqui Lambie and The Palmer United Party. While Independent senator Nick Xenaphon did not agree with Senator Brandis’ conduct, he opposed the motion on the ground that he took issue with the motion also labelling the Attorney-General as “a bald specky”.
In defense of his opposition to the motion, Senator Xenaphon addressed the Senate floor; “Should Senator Brandis have defended Gillian Triggs from the Prime Minister’s attacks? Yes. Was it wrong for Senator Brandis to offer Ms Triggs another role in an attempt to get her to resign? Yes. Did Senator Brandis err significantly in handling this issue? Yes.” Senator Xenaphon then paused for a couple of minutes. “That’s why I cannot support this motion.”
The manager of opposition business, Senator Claire Moore, celebrated following motion’s passing. “I hope Senator Brandis doesn’t wear a watch because he just got the wrist slapping of a lifetime.
“This motion proves to the Australian people that Labor is committed to symbolic victories of no consequence whatsoever.”
Matthew Farthing is the political reporter for The (un)Australian. He was once censured by the Senate for failing to disclose his interests in alternative-history novels.