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Senator Joyce in plain English

Briefs

Cite as: (2006) 80(9) LIJ, p. 16


National Party senator Barnaby Joyce has urged the Australian public to lobby for change in the culture of the Senate.

Speaking at the Law Institute of Victoria President’s Luncheon on 26 July, Mr Joyce said the party system was “corrupt” and Australians were “defrauded” because senators were afraid to cross the floor.

The Queenslander would also like to see senators given the right to vote independently because “little by little this independence in the Senate, on the conservative side, has also been usurped”.

He said the preselection process of a senator was failing to capture new senators who would fight more for democracy than for their personal political future.

After being asked to speak in plain English by a guest, Mr Joyce said he would like the Prime Minister to back a Senate revamp.

“It would be good if the leadership said we have enough confidence in the integrity of our senators that they will generally get it right and we will not be instructing them on how to vote any more.”

Mr Joyce said he hoped the 120 attendees’ passion for their government went beyond simply going to lunch.

“It’s got to well up within you people to change it [the Senate].”

The outspoken senator is known for threatening opposition to the government’s planned multi-billion dollar Telstra sale last year.

He also crossed the floor in October 2005 to amend a Bill he perceived hindered the protection of small country retailers against takeovers.

When a guest asked Mr Joyce if he would recommend Telstra shares to his mother, he said: “I have a position on Telstra that what we have is a company that has a duty to a summation that goes beyond just the commercial necessity of making a profit.”

Taking up his position as senator in July 2005, Mr Joyce described himself as a “safety valve” in conservative politics.

He concluded his speech by saying: “The heroic process ... is to fight to re-establish the independent reviewing and amending capacity of your Victorian senators. Your dedication to this cause is your contribution or otherwise to your Australian freedom.”

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