Labor welcomes the announcement today that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Bronwyn Bishop and the President of the Senate, Stephen Parry have abandoned plans to enforce segregation in Parliament House.

Manager of Opposition Business, Tony Burke, said while Labor welcomes the backdown, an explanation from the Presiding Officers is still needed.

"It's been an absurd fortnight as we've waited for a backdown that logically had to occur and both the Speaker and the President need to explain why on earth this farce was initiated," Mr Burke said.

“In 2014 for two weeks the official policy of the Australian Parliament was to practice segregation and we need to ensure this does not happen again and an explanation of why it happened is needed.

Mr Burke wrote to the Speaker when the policy was announced seeking justification - a response has not been received.

“There are still questions that need to be answered,” Mr Burke said.

“On what grounds was this measure put in place? What conversations occurred with the Prime Minister’s Office before the segregation was announced? What influence did the Prime Minister’s office have before or after the decision? What security advice was received?

“I want children to learn about segregation from the the court scenes of To Kill a Mockingbird, not while on a visit to Parliament House.

“This divisive debate was allowed to drag on too long because of a fortnight of silence from the Prime Minister.”


Tony Burke