Senate Cross Bench fronts the Canberra Press Pack
Independent Cross Bench Senators Nick Xenophon, David Leyonhjelm and Glenn Lazarus this week addressed the National Press Club outlining their differing personal views on a range of hot political topics including the Australian Building and Construction Commission, productivity in the manufacturing industry, Senate voting reforms, the Road Safety Remuneration Order (RSRO) and their chances in a Double Dissolution federal election.
On a Double Dissolution:
“I will vote for the second reading, but I remain committed to my amendments which include the sunset clause agreed to 6 months ago…” – Senator David Leyonhjelm
Senator David Leyonhjelm of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) suggested from the outset that he was ready to proceed straight to an election, seeing the future of debate on the ABCC as redundant..
Backing himself and fellow Cross Bench independents to be re-elected, the current Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull and those supporting the recent senate voting reforms who have said they’d like to see the Senate “cleaned out,” will be motivated to prove him wrong.
Senator Leyonhjelm spruiked the growing might of not just the LDP, but the role and strength of the voice of all independent senators. When questioned on the likelihood of being re-elected into the parliament, he saw the majority of his 9.5% achieved in 2013 as repeatable and expected further growth based on his increased profile and track record to date.
“I will not support the current ABCC bill unless it covers all industries….even if it costs my job as a Senator….that will be decided by the people of Queensland.” – Senator Glenn Lazarus.
Former Rugby League player and Senator for Queensland Glenn Lazarus was resolute in his stance on the need for the ABCC to be broadened to cover all industries, replicating a NSW-style Independent Commission Against Corruption.
Mr Lazarus said his understanding of and connection with the people of Queensland would get him re-elected, saying he would not be ‘bullied’ and black mailed into compromising in order to save his job by voting for the ABCC as it stands.
Further, he was firm on the need to scrap the existing agreement with the Transport Workers Union on the RSRO ‘safe rates’ explaining that 1000’s of owner operator drivers stood to lose their jobs (and face financial ruin) should the current stay be removed.
Senator Lazarus was looking forward to the upcoming election campaign with his former team mate Kerrod Walters now a candidate for ‘Team Lazarus.’
“My door is open for discussion….however I might need a clean set of pyjamas…” – Senator Nick Xenophon
Unlike his fellow cross-benchers, Senator Xenophon was slightly more measured in his approach to questions on support for the ABCC, saying that his door is always open to anyone to discuss and debate legislation. Further, not wanting to jump to any conclusions on the Double Dissolution election, he went on to say that he was prepared for more long nights in the Senate.
Senator Xenophon was nervous about the future of manufacturing in Australia, referring to the current crisis situation with Arrium Steel in Whyalla (see here) and the impact this would have on a huge number of jobs. He is in support of major defence infrastructure contracts going to Australian based companies in Adelaide and claimed reports show a continuous build in one city was more cost-effective in the long run.
Senator Xenophon suggested the Government was genuinely interested in negotiating to get the Bill passed, based on his ‘good faith’ interactions with Employment Minister Michaelia Cash.