EMBATTLED Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon has revealed she will fight to stop the federal parliament from opening every day with the prayer.
Her push to ditch the 114-year-old tradition comes after the census showed nearly a third of Australians identify with no religion.
Rhiannon, who raised the issue in the NSW parliament in 2003, instead wants a moment’s silence for MPs to reflect on their responsibilities, and will pursue the change when parliament resumes from the winter break.
“It is actually insulting the way parliament is opened,” she told ABC Insiders on Sunday. “Considering there’s many people who aren’t religious, there’s many people of different faiths, it is time we started having an institution that is relevant to the 21st century.”
Her remarks follow a decision by the party room to exclude her from discussion on contentious legislation after a rift emerged over her campaigning on schools funding.
Rhiannon said she was disappointed in Greens leader Richard Di Natale and the decision to lock her out of the party room. “You need to lead for everybody and it is not just me locked out of the party room, the Greens New South Wales members no longer have a voice in the party room,” she said. “Isn’t it time to make the party more democratic for members so they can have a vote for the leader?”
Senator Rhiannon, who was accused of undermining a potential deal with the government on the so-called Gonski 2.0 policy, continues to insist she did nothing wrong.
She says it was understandable members wanted to prosecute the case for the original Gonski package and it was a “bread and butter” issue she supported. The NSW Greens are being asked to work with the national council on how to stop its MPs being bound to vote against a decision of the federal parliamentary party room.
But Senator Rhiannon says the party needs to be more member driven and focus on global issues, such as inequality and homelessness.
“I don’t think there is anything wrong with young members who join the party who want to talk about socialism,” she said.
Her colleague Nick McKim is confident that with good will the party can work through the structural issues it faces with the NSW Greens and there won’t be a split. “Ultimately there is far, far more that unites us in the Greens than divides us,” he told Sky News.
Senator McKim said there was no time frame on changes, but he would like to see the issues addressed as soon as possible.
Originally published as Call to ditch ‘insulting’ Lord’s Prayer