Lidia Thorpe forces Senate to close early in heated row

Source: Parliament of Australia

Independent senator Lidia Thorpe forced the Senate to adjourn early on Tuesday night, accusing the Senate’s acting deputy chair of being “asleep in the chair” during a heated row.

Thorpe interrupted Labor senator Helen Polley during the chamber’s adjournment speeches at 8.30pm, where she repeatedly interjected and disobeyed calls to be quiet.

The firebrand senator was in the chamber to deliver a speech, but lost her patience after confusion about who was speaking and for how long.

Polley was granted a 10-minute window to speak by acting deputy president Louise Pratt, to which Thorpe was of the understanding they were only allowed five.

Liberal Senator Maria Kovacic also noted she’d been waiting over an hour and 15 minutes to speak, before Thorpe began shouting in the chamber, arguing Pratt had fallen asleep.

“I have a mother who lost her son to your system,” Thorpe shouted.

“Wake up. Wake up. How come all of us heard one thing and you heard something different?”

Pratt repeatedly asked Thorpe to sit down and come to order, as Thorpe called on Senate President Sue Lines to review Pratt’s conduct.

Lines returned to the chamber and attempted to silence Thorpe, telling Polley to continue speaking.

When Thorpe continued to interject, Lines ordered, “Senator Thorpe, you will no longer be heard”.

“I have ordered that you no longer be heard. Please resume your seat.”

Despite the order, Thorpe continued to read a statement from about her cousin Josh, who died in police custody.

“I’m not going to leave this chamber,” she said.

Unlike the House of Representatives, Senators cannot be removed from the chamber due to their conduct.

Amid the chaos, Minister Murray Watt moved for the Senate to adjourn, which the Senate agreed to.

Finance Minister Katy Gallagher denied that Pratt had fallen asleep in the chair on Wednesday, and claimed Thorpe’s conduct was unparliamentary.

“I’ve tried to reach out to her and speak to her about that to listen to her concerns. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to do that,” she said.

“Senator Pratt was doing a very difficult job trying to maintain appropriate conduct in the chamber. I don’t accept Senator Thorpe’s version of that.”

Topics: Lidia Thorpe
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