Australia

Senate censures Leyonhjelm over Hanson-Young slur

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David Leyonhjelm has been censured by the Senate over crude remarks had made about Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

Controversial crossbench senator David Leyonhjelm has been censured by the Senate over crude remarks he made about a fellow senator earlier this year

The Greens motion to censure the Liberal Democrats senator successfully passed the Senate on Tuesday evening by 30 votes to 28.

Just before the vote, Senator Leyonhjelm made a seven minute plea to the Senate that the censure motion should not go ahead because it was the subject of defamation action.

Australian Greens leader Senator Richard Di Natale (left) hugs Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.
Australian Greens leader Senator Richard Di Natale (left) hugs Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.
AAP

"We shouldn't even be considering those issues," he told the Senate.

But he did acknowledge he made remarks to the Greens Senator during the last parliamentary sittings in June.

"I interjected to the Senator that she should stop shagging men," he said.

"My interjection made no reference to the frequency of sexual partners and the term 'shagging' has never been considered unparliamentary."

Liberal Democratic Party Senator David Leyonhjelm during  a censure motion against him in the Senate chamber at Parliament House.
Liberal Democratic Party Senator David Leyonhjelm during a censure motion against him in the Senate chamber at Parliament House.
AAP

Greens Leader Richard Di Natale said Senator Leyonhjelm's remarks were inexcusable.

"His response was disgraceful, it was shameful, it was sexist, it was misogynist and it was personal.

David Leyonhjelm has been censured by the Senate over his comments about Sarah Hanson-Young.
David Leyonhjelm has been censured by the Senate over his comments about Sarah Hanson-Young.
AAP

"We did not want it to get to this point. All we sought from the outset was an apology from Senator Leyonhjelm."

Sarah Hanson-Young is suing David Leyonhjelm not for what he said in the Senate chamber, which is protected under parliamentary privilege, but for repeating the remarks to media outlets.

Conservative crossbench Senator Cory Bernardi told the chamber censuring Senator Leyonhjelm said the motion would open a legal "can of worms".

Senator Bernardi, speaking under parliamentary privilige, in turn alleged Senator Sarah Hanson-Young had made homphobic and racist slurs in the chamber which she had never been called out on.

It is the first time a senator has been censured since then Attorney-General George Brandis was censured in 2015.

While it carries no constitutional or financial penalties, a censure is an official mark of the Senate's disapproval.

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