The majority voted in favour of disagreeing with amendments introduced by Menzies MP Kevin Andrews (Liberal), which means they failed

This was a free vote (also known as a conscience vote), which means our MPs voted according to their own beliefs rather than strictly along party lines.

What would this amendment do?

MP Andrews explained that:

These amendments go to what I believe is a fundamental area of difference in terms of the ethical consideration of this matter, and I'll put it in this context: there are essentially five techniques which are provided for in this bill, but they can be split into two categories. There's a category of mitochondrial techniques which involve the transfer of material between eggs—namely, the maternal spindle transfer and the geminal vesicle transfer. They don't involve any destruction of an embryo in order to undertake those techniques. There are three other techniques that involve transfer of material between zygotes or embryos—namely, pronuclear transfer, first polar body transfer and second polar body transfer. These three techniques involve, necessarily as part of the undertaking of the procedure, the destruction of a zygote or an embryo.

I note in passing that under the bill only two techniques—namely, maternal spindle transfer and pronuclear transfer—are permitted for the clinical trial licence phase. But one of these techniques—namely, pronuclear transfer—involves the destruction of the zygote or the embryo. Accordingly, these amendments, when taken together, would remove from the bill those techniques or procedures which result in the destruction of the embryo. It would allow mitochondrial research to be undertaken involving the gametes, the egg and the sperm, but it wouldn't involve the destruction of an embryo. For me, that is a line at the end of the day consistent with the view that I took almost 20 years ago when we were discussing stem cell research and cell therapy at that time—that there is a line between techniques which do not involve the destruction of an embryo and the techniques which do involve the destruction of the embryo.

Amendment text

(7) Schedule 1, item 19, page 34 (line 4), omit the definition of pronuclear transfer.

(8) Schedule 1, item 19, page 34 (line 5), omit the definition of second polar body transfer.

(9) Schedule 1, item 20, page 34 (line 15), omit paragraph 7A(b).

(10) Schedule 1, item 20, page 34 (line 17), omit "transfer;", substitute "transfer.".

(11) Schedule 1, item 20, page 34 (line 18), omit paragraph 7A(e).

(12) Schedule 1, item 20, page 35 (cell at table item 1, column headed "the permitted techniques are …", paragraph (b)), omit the paragraph.

(13) Schedule 1, item 20, page 35 (cell at table item 1, column headed "the permitted techniques are …", paragraph (e)), omit the paragraph.

(14) Schedule 1, item 20, page 35 (cell at table item 2, column headed "the permitted techniques are …" ), omit the cell, substitute:

maternal spindle transfer

(15) Schedule 1, item 20, page 35 (line 14) to page 36 (line 4), omit section 7D.

(16) Schedule 1, item 20, page 36 (line 29) to page 37 (line 8), omit section 7G.

What does this bill do?

According to the bills digest:

Mitochondrial disease is a group of conditions that can cause serious health issues and, in severe cases, can cause death in childhood. There is no known cure for mitochondrial disease.

Mitochondrial donation is an assisted reproductive technology (ART) that can assist women to avoid passing mitochondrial DNA disease to their biological child. This technology is not a cure for mitochondrial disease but is rather a way to prevent children from inheriting mitochondria that can cause mitochondrial disease.

Under the current legislative framework, mitochondrial donation is illegal under the Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction Act 2002 (Cth) and the Research Involving Human Embryos Act 2002 (Cth). The Mitochondrial Donation Law Reform (Maeve’s Law) Bill 2021 (the Bill) amends relevant Acts and associated Regulations to make mitochondrial donation legal for research, training and human reproductive purposes. The overall aim is for women at risk of passing on mitochondrial disease to have reproductive options for biological children without the increased risk of their child having mitochondrial disease.

Primarily the Bill makes changes to ensure that it is no longer an offence to create, for the purposes of reproduction, and under the relevant mitochondrial donation licences, a human embryo that:

  • contains the genetic material of more than two people and
  • contains heritable changes to the genome.

Read more in the bills digest.

Votes Passed by a modest majority

Nobody rebelled against their party.

Party Votes
Adam Bandt Melbourne Australian Greens Yes
Australian Labor Party (79% turnout) 49 Yes 5 No
Anthony Albanese Grayndler Yes
Sharon Bird Cunningham Yes
Chris Bowen McMahon Yes
Tony Burke Watson Yes
Linda Burney Barton Yes
Josh Burns Macnamara Yes
Jim Chalmers Rankin Yes
Nick Champion Spence Yes
Lisa Chesters Bendigo Yes
Jason Clare Blaxland Yes
Sharon Claydon Newcastle Yes
Libby Coker Corangamite Yes
Pat Conroy Shortland Yes
Mark Dreyfus Isaacs Yes
Justine Elliot Richmond Yes
Joel Fitzgibbon Hunter Yes
Mike Freelander Macarthur Yes
Steve Georganas Adelaide Yes
Andrew Giles Scullin Yes
Julian Hill Bruce Yes
Stephen Jones Whitlam Yes
Ged Kearney Cooper Yes
Peter Khalil Wills Yes
Catherine King Ballarat Yes
Andrew Leigh Fenner Yes
Richard Marles Corio Yes
Kristy McBain Eden-Monaro Yes
Emma McBride Dobell Yes
Rob Mitchell McEwen Yes
Daniel Mulino Fraser Yes
Peta Murphy Dunkley Yes
Brendan O'Connor Gorton Yes
Clare O'Neil Hotham Yes
Julie Owens Parramatta Yes
Alicia Payne Canberra Yes
Graham Perrett Moreton Yes
Fiona Phillips Gilmore Yes
Tanya Plibersek Sydney Yes
Amanda Rishworth Kingston Yes
Joanne Ryan Lalor Yes
Bill Shorten Maribyrnong Yes
Warren Snowdon Lingiari Yes
Meryl Swanson Paterson Yes
Susan Templeman Macquarie Yes
Matt Thistlethwaite Kingsford Smith Yes
Kate Thwaites Jagajaga Yes
Maria Vamvakinou Calwell Yes
Tim Watts Gellibrand Yes
Josh Wilson Fremantle Yes
Luke Gosling Solomon No
Chris Hayes Fowler No
Matt Keogh Burt No
David Smith Bean No
Tony Zappia Makin No
Anne Aly Cowan Absent
Mark Butler Hindmarsh Absent
Terri Butler Griffith Absent
Anthony Byrne Holt Absent
Julie Collins Franklin Absent
Milton Dick Oxley Absent
Patrick Gorman Perth Absent
Ed Husic Chifley Absent
Madeleine King Brand Absent
Brian Mitchell Lyons Absent
Shayne Neumann Blair Absent
Michelle Rowland Greenway Absent
Anne Stanley Werriwa Absent
Anika Wells Lilley Absent
Rebekha Sharkie Mayo Centre Alliance Yes
Mark Coulton Parkes Deputy Speaker Yes
Helen Haines Indi Independent Yes
Zali Steggall Warringah Independent Yes
Andrew Wilkie Clark Independent Yes
Craig Kelly Hughes Independent No
Bob Katter Kennedy Katter's Australian Party No
Liberal National Party (80% turnout) 3 Yes 1 No
Angie Bell Moncrieff Yes
Garth Hamilton Groom Yes
Julian Simmonds Ryan Yes
Terry Young Longman No
Phillip Thompson Herbert Absent
Liberal Party (80% turnout) 27 Yes 16 No
Katie Allen Higgins Yes
Karen Andrews McPherson Yes
Bridget Archer Bass Yes
Peter Dutton Dickson Yes
Warren Entsch Leichhardt Yes
Trevor Evans Brisbane Yes
Jason Falinski Mackellar Yes
Paul Fletcher Bradfield Yes
Josh Frydenberg Kooyong Yes
Greg Hunt Flinders Yes
Julian Leeser Berowra Yes
Sussan Ley Farrer Yes
Gladys Liu Chisholm Yes
Nola Marino Forrest Yes
Fiona Martin Reid Yes
Scott Morrison Cook Yes
Christian Porter Pearce Yes
Melissa Price Durack Yes
Rowan Ramsey Grey Yes
Stuart Robert Fadden Yes
Dave Sharma Wentworth Yes
Tony Smith Casey Yes
James Stevens Sturt Yes
Alan Tudge Aston Yes
Ross Vasta Bonner Yes
Tim Wilson Goldstein Yes
Trent Zimmerman North Sydney Yes
John Alexander Bennelong No
Kevin Andrews Menzies No
Russell Broadbent Monash No
Scott Buchholz Wright No
Nicolle Flint Boothby No
Alex Hawke Mitchell No
Melissa McIntosh Lindsay No
Ben Morton Tangney No
Ted O'Brien Fairfax No
Tony Pasin Barker No
Michael Sukkar Deakin No
Angus Taylor Hume No
Bert Van Manen Forde No
Lucy Wicks Robertson No
Rick Wilson O'Connor No
Ken Wyatt Hasluck No
David Coleman Banks Absent
Vince Connelly Stirling Absent
Ian Goodenough Moore Absent
Celia Hammond Curtin Absent
Andrew Hastie Canning Absent
Luke Howarth Petrie Absent
Steve Irons Swan Absent
Andrew Laming Bowman Absent
Gavin Pearce Braddon Absent
Dan Tehan Wannon Absent
Jason Wood La Trobe Absent
National Party (80% turnout) 7 Yes 5 No
Darren Chester Gippsland Yes
Damian Drum Nicholls Yes
Kevin Hogan Page Yes
Michelle Landry Capricornia Yes
Michael McCormack Riverina Yes
Llew O'Brien Wide Bay Yes
Anne Webster Mallee Yes
George Christensen Dawson No
David Gillespie Lyne No
Barnaby Joyce New England No
David Littleproud Maranoa No
Ken O'Dowd Flynn No
Pat Conaghan Cowper Absent
Andrew Gee Calare Absent
Keith Pitt Hinkler Absent
Andrew Wallace Fisher Speaker Absent
Craig Kelly Hughes United Australia Party Absent
Totals (80% turnout) 92 Yes – 29 No