The majority voted against an amendment introduced by Mackellar MP Sophie Scamps, which means they failed.

What did the amendment do?

Dr Scamps explained that:

In short, these amendments dictate that, when a department secretary is to be appointed, the Public Service Commissioner would be required to conduct a robust selection process, including publishing selection criteria for the appointment, widely consulting for candidates, rigorously considering candidates against the selection criteria and preparing a shortlist of at least three candidates for the Prime Minister to consider. If the Prime Minister decides to select somebody for the position who is not on the shortlist, they must table a report within seven sitting days of the appointment naming the person and providing reasons why that person has the appropriate qualifications, skills and experience for the role.

For the appointment of the Public Service Commissioner, the so-called 'guardian of an impartial Australian Public Service', as described by Thodey, there are a couple of additional requirements: that the independent panel be chaired by a former judge, and that the Prime Minister consult with the Leader of the Opposition on the appointment. This is in recognition that the Australian Public Service Commissioner is a unique role and reinforces to the Australian public the independence and impartiality of both the commissioner and the Australian Public Service.

Amendment text

(3) Schedule 1, page 8 (after line 25), after item 8, insert:

8A Section 45

Before "The Commissioner", insert "(1)".

8B At the end of section 45


Requirements for appointments

(2) Before recommending to the Governor-General on or after the commencement of this subsection that a person be appointed as the Commissioner, the Prime Minister must:

(a) ensure that the person was selected as the result of a process that includes:

(i) public advertising of selection criteria for the position; and

(ii) assessment of applications against the selection criteria by an independent panel consisting of at least 3 members and chaired by a former judge; and

(iii) shortlisting of at least 3 persons for the appointment who are certified, in writing, by the panel to meet all of the selection criteria; and

(b) ensure that the person appointed is one of the shortlisted candidates.

(3) Within 7 days after an appointment is made, the Prime Minister must cause a copy of the written certification (referred to in subparagraph (2)(a)(iii)) for the person appointed to be:

(a) tabled in each House of the Parliament; or

(b) if a House is not sitting—presented to the Presiding Officer of that House for circulation to the members of that House.

(4) In this section:

former judge means:

(a) a former Justice of the High Court; or

(b) a former judge of the Federal Court of Australia; or

(c) a former judge of the Supreme Court of a State or Territory.

8C Subsections 58(6) to (8)

Repeal the subsections, substitute:

Requirements for appointments

(6) Before recommending to the Governor-General on or after the commencement of this subsection that a person be appointed as the Secretary of a Department, the Prime Minister must have regard to a report:

(a) prepared by the Commissioner; and

(b) describing a selection process conducted by the Commissioner for the appointment.

(7) The selection process conducted by the Commissioner must include:

(a) publishing the selection criteria for the appointment; and

(b) widely consulting for candidates (using professional executive-search expertise as appropriate); and

(c) rigorously considering candidates against the selection criteria; and

(d) preparing a ranked shortlist of at least 3 candidates to provide to the Prime Minister.

(8) If under subsection (1) a person is appointed who is not on the shortlist referred to in paragraph (7)(d), the Prime Minister must:

(a) prepare a report naming the person, and giving reasons why the person has the appropriate qualifications, skills and experience to be appointed; and

(b) cause a copy of that report to be tabled in each House of the Parliament within 7 sitting days of that House after the day the person is appointed under subsection (1).

Votes Not passed by a modest majority

Nobody rebelled against their party.

Party Votes
Australian Greens (75% turnout) 3 Yes 0 No
Stephen Bates Brisbane Yes
Max Chandler-Mather Griffith Yes
Elizabeth Watson-Brown Ryan Yes
Adam Bandt Melbourne Absent
Australian Labor Party (60% turnout) 0 Yes 46 No
Anne Aly Cowan No
Michelle Ananda-Rajah Higgins No
Matt Burnell Spence No
Josh Burns Macnamara No
Alison Byrnes Cunningham No
Andrew Charlton Parramatta No
Lisa Chesters Bendigo No
Sharon Claydon Newcastle No
Libby Coker Corangamite No
Mary Doyle Aston No
Justine Elliot Richmond No
Cassandra Fernando Holt No
Carina Garland Chisholm No
Steve Georganas Adelaide No
Patrick Gorman Perth No
Julian Hill Bruce No
Ged Kearney Cooper No
Tania Lawrence Hasluck No
Jerome Laxale Bennelong No
Andrew Leigh Fenner No
Sam Lim Tangney No
Zaneta Mascarenhas Swan No
Emma McBride Dobell No
Louise Miller-Frost Boothby No
Brian Mitchell Lyons No
Daniel Mulino Fraser No
Shayne Neumann Blair No
Alicia Payne Canberra No
Graham Perrett Moreton No
Fiona Phillips Gilmore No
Sam Rae Hawke No
Gordon Reid Robertson No
Dan Repacholi Hunter No
Tracey Roberts Pearce No
Joanne Ryan Lalor No
Marion Scrymgour Lingiari No
Sally Sitou Reid No
David Smith Bean No
Anne Stanley Werriwa No
Meryl Swanson Paterson No
Susan Templeman Macquarie No
Kate Thwaites Jagajaga No
Maria Vamvakinou Calwell No
Anika Wells Lilley No
Josh Wilson Fremantle No
Tony Zappia Makin No
Anthony Albanese Grayndler Absent
Chris Bowen McMahon Absent
Tony Burke Watson Absent
Linda Burney Barton Absent
Mark Butler Hindmarsh Absent
Jim Chalmers Rankin Absent
Jason Clare Blaxland Absent
Julie Collins Franklin Absent
Pat Conroy Shortland Absent
Mark Dreyfus Isaacs Absent
Mike Freelander Macarthur Absent
Andrew Giles Scullin Absent
Luke Gosling Solomon Absent
Ed Husic Chifley Absent
Stephen Jones Whitlam Absent
Matt Keogh Burt Absent
Peter Khalil Wills Absent
Catherine King Ballarat Absent
Madeleine King Brand Absent
Richard Marles Corio Absent
Kristy McBain Eden-Monaro Absent
Rob Mitchell McEwen Absent
Peta Murphy Dunkley Absent
Brendan O'Connor Gorton Absent
Clare O'Neil Hotham Absent
Tanya Plibersek Sydney Absent
Amanda Rishworth Kingston Absent
Michelle Rowland Greenway Absent
Bill Shorten Maribyrnong Absent
Matt Thistlethwaite Kingsford Smith Absent
Tim Watts Gellibrand Absent
Rebekha Sharkie Mayo Centre Alliance Absent
Mark Coulton Parkes Deputy Speaker Absent
Kate Chaney Curtin Independent Yes
Zoe Daniel Goldstein Independent Yes
Andrew Gee Calare Independent Yes
Helen Haines Indi Independent Yes
Dai Le Fowler Independent Yes
Monique Ryan Kooyong Independent Yes
Sophie Scamps Mackellar Independent Yes
Allegra Spender Wentworth Independent Yes
Zali Steggall Warringah Independent Yes
Kylea Tink North Sydney Independent Yes
Andrew Wilkie Clark Independent Yes
Bob Katter Kennedy Katter's Australian Party Absent
Liberal National Party (0% turnout) Absent
Angie Bell Moncrieff Absent
Colin Boyce Flynn Absent
Cameron Caldwell Fadden Absent
Garth Hamilton Groom Absent
Henry Pike Bowman Absent
Phillip Thompson Herbert Absent
Andrew Wallace Fisher Absent
Andrew Willcox Dawson Absent
Terry Young Longman Absent
Liberal Party (12% turnout) 0 Yes 4 No
Ian Goodenough Moore No
Nola Marino Forrest No
Michael Sukkar Deakin No
Bert Van Manen Forde No
Karen Andrews McPherson Absent
Bridget Archer Bass Absent
Russell Broadbent Monash Absent
Scott Buchholz Wright Absent
David Coleman Banks Absent
Peter Dutton Dickson Absent
Warren Entsch Leichhardt Absent
Paul Fletcher Bradfield Absent
Andrew Hastie Canning Absent
Alex Hawke Mitchell Absent
Luke Howarth Petrie Absent
Julian Leeser Berowra Absent
Sussan Ley Farrer Absent
Melissa McIntosh Lindsay Absent
Zoe McKenzie Flinders Absent
Scott Morrison Cook Absent
Ted O'Brien Fairfax Absent
Tony Pasin Barker Absent
Gavin Pearce Braddon Absent
Melissa Price Durack Absent
Rowan Ramsey Grey Absent
James Stevens Sturt Absent
Angus Taylor Hume Absent
Dan Tehan Wannon Absent
Ross Vasta Bonner Absent
Aaron Violi Casey Absent
Jenny Ware Hughes Absent
Rick Wilson O'Connor Absent
Keith Wolahan Menzies Absent
Jason Wood La Trobe Absent
National Party (0% turnout) Absent
Sam Birrell Nicholls Absent
Darren Chester Gippsland Absent
Pat Conaghan Cowper Absent
David Gillespie Lyne Absent
Kevin Hogan Page Absent
Barnaby Joyce New England Absent
Michelle Landry Capricornia Absent
David Littleproud Maranoa Absent
Michael McCormack Riverina Absent
Llew O'Brien Wide Bay Absent
Keith Pitt Hinkler Absent
Anne Webster Mallee Absent
Milton Dick Oxley Speaker Absent
Totals (42% turnout) 14 Yes – 50 No