24 March 2015

Senate defers a pro-Israel motion [UPDATED]

Senator Bob Day (Family First, South Australia)  and NSW LDP Senator Leyonhjelm put the following motion to the Senate for a vote this Monday, 23 March 2015:

That the Senate acknowledges, respects and values:
(a)  the historical ties between Australia and Israel, starting with the Beersheba campaign of 1917;
(b) Australian trade with Israel nearing $1 billion per annum; and
(c)  the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce.

UPDATE: 27 March 2015:

Senator Day’s motion was not voted down by Labor, as previously reported. Rather, it was “refused formality” by the Senate – a procedural term that prevents a vote being taken on a motion. This is a long-standing convention on motions dealing with foreign affairs to give Senators the opportunity to consider them. The motion was put aside until another time. 

However Senator Day expressed his disappointment that such an uncontroversial motion was delayed, because despite convention "formality on foreign affairs topics has been permitted on no less than 9 occasions in the last 12 months."

Senator Day made this short statement in response:

Mr President, this motion has received substantial backing from people across Australia who support Australia’s ties with Israel, and I thank those people for contacting their MPs.
I will not recite the terms of the motion because every item is factual and uncontroversial.

When it comes to formality on motions touching on foreign affairs, there are clearly no hard and fast rules in this place as formality on foreign affairs topics has been permitted on no less than 9 occasions in the last 12 months.

Mr President, I would like to put on record my disappointment over Labor’s obstruction of this motion supporting Israel.  Due to a busy agenda, however, I will not move for a suspension of standing orders and a debate but indicate to the Senate that I am committed to securing a statement in support of our ties with Israel and will bring this matter back to the Senate again in the near future.