Senator Jacqui Lambie is using a poll and survey on her website to help guide her vote on the government’s proposal to ban mobile phones in immigration detention, but another senator has claimed she is “building a database” of email addresses.
Senator Lambie launched the poll via her Facebook page on Friday, stating that “you guys are great at letting me know in the comments section, but I just can’t go through all of them and record how many people are for and against”.
“People always say the Senate’s full of unrepresentative swill. I’m trying to use the balance of power to be as representative as I possibly can be,” she wrote.
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Her website includes brief arguments for and against the bill, requires an email address to vote, and a promise that Senator Lambie will send an email telling each person how she voted.
The government has yet to indicate when the bill will come before the Senate.
Senator Lambie’s method of testing public opinion drew ire from Tasmanian Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, who questioned whether it was just a way of obtaining email addresses for her database.
“She’s using it to build a database. I would be surprised if Senator Lambie hadn’t made up her mind already,” he said.
“The poll that matters is the one that elects you to become a senator. It’s good to have consultation and to listen, but you’ve got to be careful that she’s not seen to be outsourcing her conviction.
“You’re elected to make decisions.”
Senator Lambie had previously used an online poll to decide her vote on the Cash Ban Bill, where 80 per cent voted that she reject it.
She said that the intention and use of the email addresses was “clearly” stated on the website – that she needed an email address so she could ask for more detail on people’s reasoning, if necessary.
“I don’t know what it says about the Greens that they’re suspicious I’d want to contact back the people who contact me,” Senator Lambie said.
“I guess I’d just ask why every campaign Peter Whish-Wilson is running on his website asks for people’s email address and phone number, if all he thinks they’re good for is data mining.”
The government claims the bill would stop “extremist content” from being kept on mobile phones and would not result in every phone being banned, but Amnesty International Australia stated the ban would restrict detainees’ ability to have private conversations with legal representatives and family members.