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New Senate president Sue Lines says she would like to see the longstanding tradition of reading the Lord’s Prayer at the start of each sitting day “gone”, as she prepares to put her mark on the chamber by warning senators she’ll be tougher on those who demean their colleagues.
Senator Lines, only the second woman elected to the role of president, said as an atheist she did not want to say the prayer, which has been read by the presiding officers in the lower and upper houses at the start of each sitting day since 1901.
“On the one hand we’ve had almost every parliamentary leader applaud the diversity of the parliament and so if we are genuine about the diversity of the parliament we cannot continue to say a Christian prayer to open the day,” Senator Lines said.
“Personally, I would like to see the prayers gone. I’m an atheist. I don’t want to say the prayers. If others want to say the prayers they’re open to do that.
“Personally I would like to see them gone but again it’s not something I can decree. It’s a view of the Senate.”
Senator Lines said the abolition of the Lord’s Prayer was “certainly on the agenda” and would be raised with the Senate procedure committee, which considers any matter relating to procedures referred to it by the chamber or the president.