Greens disrupt Senate to slam budget

The Greens have disrupted the Senate’s schedule to decry the federal budget’s treatment of young Australians.


The upper house was set to debate legislation for the government’s youth internship program on Wednesday morning but Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson moved to suspend proceedings to decry the impact of Tuesday’s budget on young people.

“The budget is screwing young Australians,” he told parliament.

The government was creating political roadblocks for young Australians, making it harder for them to pay university fees and unable to afford their first home, he said.

“I counted 14 different initiatives in the budget speech last night relating to housing affordability but none of them will tackle the structural issues.”

Greens colleague Sarah Hanson-Young accused Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of selling out.

“He swapped the leather jacket for the Tony Abbott blue tie,” she said.

Greens senator Nick McKim took issue with the government’s plan to drug-test unemployed job seekers, suggesting politicians should also be tested.

“What about a breathalyser on the front door of this place where if you blow over 0.05 you can’t come in here and vote,” he said.

“But of course we’re not going to have that, we’re going to pick on the vulnerable.”

Attorney-General George Brandis accused the Greens of grandstanding.

“You will have, every honourable senator will have, plenty of opportunity to debate the budget at the appropriate time and in the appropriate order provided for by the Senate program,” he said.

Labor agreed the Greens stunt was inappropriate, given the amount of work before the Senate.

“Any attempt to have a long debate on the budget that was handed down last night prior to a formal response from the leader of the opposition seems to me to be merely attempting to frustrate the program,” Labor frontbencher Katy Gallagher said.