News National Q&A: ‘I will not have a gun held to my head’
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Q&A: ‘I will not have a gun held to my head’

Jacqui Lambie
AAP
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Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie has said she will not allow Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to “blackmail” her into voting for legislation against her will.

Speaking on the ABC’s panel program Q&A, Ms Lambie confirmed she would not be changing her vote on two controversial anti-trade union bills that had divided the Australian Senate.

On Monday, Mr Turnbull announced he would seek a double dissolution election if the bills were not passed in coming weeks.

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Some had indicated they would be open to passing an amended bill, but Ms Lambie confirmed she would not change her vote under duress.

“I will not be blackmailed, I will not have a gun held to my head,” she said.

“That is not the way to play politics.”

Q&A questioner Catherine Campbell described the announcement as “strong-arming the Senate” and questioned whether it was a “fair expression of democracy”.

The government needs the support of at least six of eight crossbench senators to pass the legislation.

Energy and Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg defended his government’s decision to force the Senate to resume on April 18 to resolve the current deadlock, and that negotiations would not see amendments leave holes in the legislation.

“We will not end up with a piece of legislation which is Swiss cheese,” he said.

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‘Stop using children as political bullets’

Carter Smith, who identified himself as a queer student, put an impassioned plea to politicians on the panel to fight for the Safe Schools program, a same-sex anti-bullying initiative.

The notion that the Safe Schools program is radical gender theory is absolutely ridiculous,” he said.

“The problem is politicians are using young innocent, in-pain children as political bullets.”

clementine ford
Feminist commentator Clementine Ford said kids of all ages needed the Safe Schools program. Photo: ABC

The federal government recently limited the program to secondary schools, but feminist commentator Clementine Ford said it could harm younger students struggling with their identity.

“[It] makes the assumption that this awareness only transpires when you enter secondary school and it (does not),” she said.

The Victorian and ACT governments indicated they would defy implementation of changes proposed by the federal government and would try to fund Safe Schools themselves in its current form.

Mr Frydenberg said the program was important to raise awareness of LGBTI issues, but questioned its “age-appropriate nature”.

“When you actually read through these materials where they give examples of kids in year 7 and 8, ask to pretend that they are aliens from another planet who come here and they are genderless and they are asked questions about what would they do with and without any genitals – that’s in year 7 and 8,” Mr Frydenberg said.

“[The changes are] about the age-appropriate nature of an agenda that seems to have gone beyond anti-bullying.”

Elizabeth Proust, Bank of Melbourne chair and member of the Catholic Church’s Truth Justice Healing Council, said children’s safety should be paramount, while Ms Lambie said the government should not ignore the needs of same-sex students.

“I tell you what, mate, it is a reality, it’s happening, let’s talk about it,” Ms Lambie said.

“That’s the trouble with you Conservatives. It’s happening, mate, it’s happening. Bring it to the surface, let’s discuss it.”

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews had the final word and simply stated: “The program works”.

See other debate on the program below

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