Western Australia senator Sue Lines has been elected as the Senate’s second female president, becoming the first woman from Labor to hold the top job.

The WA senator has served as deputy Senate president since 2016, and replaced the Liberals’ Slade Brockman after being elected on 54 votes.

“Thank you very much senators for the honour and privilege bestowed on me here today,” she told the Senate after her election.

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“I’ll do my utmost to be a fair and consultative president.”

The former trade unionist is the second woman to hold the role after the Liberals’ Margaret Reid, who was president between 1996 and 2002.

Leader of the Government in the Senate Penny Wong told the chamber Senator Lines was “appropriately qualified and suited to the significant responsibility that comes with occupying the chair”.

“It’s taken a long time but I’m pleased that we see yet another woman serving in this high office,” Senator Wong said.

“I’m confident Senator Lines will represent the interests of the Senate and the parliament as a whole, particularly when it comes to matters of privilege.”

Leader of Opposition in the Senate Simon Birmingham also congratulated Senator Lines after she received the support of the coalition, while Greens senator Dorinda Cox spoke about the need for more diverse representation in the upper house.

“It’s now our chance to … realise the full ambition of our First Nations parliamentarians,” she said ahead of the ballot.

The Greens had nominated Senator Cox for president. She received 12 votes, while two informal votes were recorded.

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson attempted to put forward WA senator Glenn Sterle.

However, the standing orders prevented her from moving the nomination with Senator Sterle not present in the chamber.

Liberal senator Andrew McLachlan was elected deputy president and chair of committees over the Greens’ Jordon Steele-John with 57 votes to 13.

“I undertake to you that I will work faithfully and diligently to advance the interests of the Senate,” Senator McLachlan said following his election.

The governor-general officially opened the 47th parliament on Tuesday and the day was marked by ceremony and procedure.

The senators formally signed the Test Roll and Senators’ Roll upon reciting the oath of allegiance. 

Question time, senators’ statements and government business will begin in the upper house on Wednesday.

Governor-General David Hurley congratulated parliamentarians on their election and re-election and outlined the government’s priorities and key policies in a 40-minute address to senators and MPs.

“This parliament must seek to match the resolve and resilience of the people in whose name you serve,” he told the chamber.

“I wish you every success in meeting this moment.”

The Senate also moved a condolence motion for former Japanese president Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated on July 8.

Twelve incoming senators are expected to deliver their maiden speech in the first sitting fortnight.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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