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Pocock laments lost Senate sitting day

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A key senator has lost his bid to have an extra parliamentary sitting day to make up for lost time caused by the mourning of Queen Elizabeth II.

While the Senate will sit from Monday through Wednesday, independent senator David Pocock moved an amendment to add Thursday, particularly to consider the territory rights legislation he has pushed since his election.

That move was voted down by Labor, the coalition and the Greens, despite Senator Pocock arguing one extra day of parliament shouldn’t be a big ask given the current sitting schedule.

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“By my calculation, it’s 29 days,” he said.

“If you compare that to New Zealand, sitting for 90 days this year, or Canada 120 days, I don’t feel like the extra day is a huge imposition given some of the really important legislation before us.”

Senator Pocock feared the lost time could see territory rights legislation – that would allow territories to create their own laws, including on voluntary assisted dying – further delayed.

“There’s some incredibly important pieces of legislation before us, including territory rights, which I fear may continue to drag out for the rest of the year,” he said.

“This is an incredibly important matter to many people living in the territories.”

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Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said her party couldn’t support sitting next week as they’d already made travel arrangements, but shared the intent to pass the legislation as soon as possible.

“We need to find time to deal with the territories legislation bill in particular and to not allow this to slide off into the never-never,” she said.

“That may suit some in this place, but it certainly doesn’t suit all so we will be prepared to speak collectively across this chamber to find time to deal with that.”

– AAP

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