Coalition and Labor Baulk at Debate on China Senate Inquiry

15 May 2020

Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick had prepared a speech for debate in the Senate on Thursday, 14 May, on his proposal to establish a wide-ranging inquiry into Australia’s future relations with China. 

However management of Senate business by the Coalition and Labor resulted in a further deferral of the motion until the Parliament resumes sittings in June. 

“I can’t say I’m surprised that the Coalition and Labor lacked enthusiasm for debating my proposed China inquiry this week,” Senator Patrick said. 

“After all they’ve voted together to block this on five previous occasions.” 

“However given the most recent worrying developments in Australia’s relations with China, I’m as determined as ever to press the Senate to authorise a broad inquiry that would enable the Parliament to draw on the full-range of expertise to help chart our future dealings with Beijing.”

“The Coalition and Labor have never adequately explained their opposition to the Senate inquiry. Fear of China’s reaction has undoubtedly been a factor, but the leadership of both sides of politics must eventually realise the parliamentary self-censorship is contrary to our national interest and democratic principles.”

“Over the next four weeks I will continue to engage with Senate colleagues on the value of a deep dive into the dynamics of our relations with Beijing.” 

“Managing our dealings with China is of course a challenging task for government; but it is also a vital interest and responsibility of the Parliament,” Senator Patrick said. 

“Parliamentary engagement is essential if we are to move forward on our relationship with China with broad support across the Australian political scene.” 

A copy of the speech Senator Patrick intended to deliver in the Senate can be found here.

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