POLITICS

The Senate Went Nuts Thursday Afternoon After Embracing Love

And it was Cory Bernardi who stirred the pot.

16/11/2017 2:37 PM AEDT | Updated 16/11/2017 2:48 PM AEDT
Alex Ellinghausen/Fairfax Media
Cory Bernardi just caused mayhem for the government and the new senate president.

CANBERRA -- Thursday morning, Australia's upper house of parliament was a place of equality, love and removing discrimination. Hours later it descended into confusing and occasionally shouty mayhem over abortions.

Not long after the debate over the Dean Smith same-sex marriage bill had paused and respectful applause had faded, former liberal and Australian Conservatives leader Cory Bernardi had managed to cause trouble for the government by trying to pass a serious of contentious motions relating to abortion, "radical theories about gender", Get Up! and "victims of communism".

It also took place not long after the senator had a little fun at the expense of cabinet minister Christopher Pyne, calling for an official investigation into how a hardcore porn video was liked by the minister's Twitter account.

On the senate floor, only the communism motion passed, but Bernardi's deliberate test of allegiances quickly found a target with several failed motions on abortion managing to expose conservative divisions within the government.

You know, the sort of resolved division that has been plaguing the Turnbull Government ever since Tony Abbott was toppled from the top job in September 2015. The sort of division on social issues that necessitated the postal survey on same-sex marriage.

A motion of the "use of Medicare funding for abortions on gender grounds" was voted down 36 to 10, but government senators Eric Abetz and Barry O'Sullivan together with Turnbull Government ministers Anne Ruston, Zed Seselja and Matt Canavan voted against the rest of the government with Bernardi.

Another Bernardi motion, praising the New South Wales Government for abandoning its 'Crossroads' " due to its radical theories about gender and sexuality," had to be rerun after government senators refused guidance from the government whip to vote against it. They ended up siding with Bernardi.

Ministers were seen arguing with colleagues and failing to get them to fall into line.

It failed 26-to-30, but Bernardi was not yet done.

Yet another of his motions linked White Ribbon Day to later term abortion. In particular, it asked the Senate to note that White Ribbon "advocates for 'nationally consistent access to safe and legal abortion, including late-term abortion in all states and territories', and urges senators with a concern to "take it up with White Ribbon Australia".

The motion failed 31-to-21.

Greens senator Sarah-Hanson Young sought to make a statement based on the attempt, but was denied and managed to say "you bunch of misogynistic...", before being cut off.

In turn, it all got a bit shouty with government members including Ian Macdonald.

And she managed a bit more, "This is about rape victims having access to safe and legal abortion! That is what you just voted against!"

In turn, she was called a "dill" by Macdonald. The President stated that was unparliamentary, but Macdonald -- a rival for the position of president -- flatly disagreed with the ruling.

But Bernardi was still not done.

Yet another motion stated the political activitist group GetUp! was seed-funded by international socialists, has actively campaigned like a political party and is deserving of greater electoral regulation or scrutiny. Government members sided with Bernardi and Hanson, but it went down 27-to-31.

The senate is sitting by itself this week and is not used to all this attention it is getting.

Debate on the Dean Smith marriage amendment bill resumes later on Thursday, with the hope that equality, love and removing discrimination will return.

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