MPs reject Green bid to axe Prayer

Senator Richard Di Natale
Senator Richard Di Natale

BORDER MPs have rejected a Greens push to ditch the Lord’s Prayer from Federal Parliament as unnecessary.

The bid came via a motion put before the Senate yesterday by the Greens’ spokesman on multiculturalism, Richard Di Natale.

He wants the Senate’s Procedure Committee to axe the prayer in favour of what the Greens call a “silent reflection”.

This would read: “Senators, let us in silence pray or reflect upon our responsibilities to the people of Australia, to the States and Territories which we represent, and to all future generations”.

Independent member for Indi Cathy McGowan said she attended the opening of Parliament each morning for the welcome to country, Lord’s Prayer and blessing.

And she does not want any of these cut from the speaker’s short address, though she did not totally dismiss the Greens’ proposal.

“This is a very special part of the day for me, I really respect ritual, and I think we could certainly look at introducing a moment’s silence,” she said.

“This could be a really good compromise.”

Liberal member for Farrer Sussan Ley was far less conciliatory.

“When this was last raised as a possibility, it was decided the Lord’s Prayer satisfactorily acknowledged the principles which formed Australia’s Parliament and political system, which underpins our way of life,” she said.

“Those same Judeo-Christian principles aim to promote inter-religious co-operation, so there seems little reason to change something which is already delivering what the Senator wants.”

Ms McGowan said the Speaker’s address was a “special ritual” and important to take part in before the politics started.

She acknowledged not all MPs and Australians were Christian, but it was important for all faith traditions and belief systems to be respected.

Adding a silent reflection to the existing opening, she said, was a way of being “inclusive without impinging on tradition”.

Senator Di Natale’s motion sought to ask the committee to consider amending section 50 of the Senate’s standing orders to replace the prayer with the silent reflection.

He said the prayer was an “anachronism” in a multicultural Australia.