The majority voted against a motion introduced by Labor Senator Kerry O'Brien. This means that the motion was unsuccessful.

The motion was:

"That it be an instruction to the Committee of the Whole that: (a) the committee divide the Wheat Marketing Amendment Bill 2007 to incorporate Schedules l, 3, 4, 5 and 6 in a separate bill; and (b) the committee add to that separate bill enacting words and provisions for titles and commencement."

Senator O'Brien explained that the Labor Party believed that the bill should be split because it is only Schedule 2 that needs to be passed as a matter of urgency. That Schedule relates to extending the minister’s veto power over non-Australian Wheat Board (International) Ltd bulk exports. Senator O'Brien said that the other parts of the bill should be considered over a longer time period.

Background to the bill

In 2006, the Wheat Marketing Amendment Bill 2006 was passed to transfer the right to veto bulk wheat export applications from the Australian Wheat Board (International) (AWB(I))(AWB (International) is a subsidiary of AWB Ltd. Before the Wheat Marketing Amendment Bill 2006 was passed, it held the mandate for the single desk wheat export operation, including the power to veto other exports of bulk wheat. ) to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry until 30 June 2007. The bill was the result of the Volker report into the UN Oil-for-food program and the later Cole inquiry. These investigations arose out of the AWB scandal, which involved Australian Wheat Board Ltd (AWB) paying kickbacks to to Saddam Hussein's Iraqi regime.

A key feature of the Wheat Marketing Amendment Bill 2007 is to extend this transfer of the power of veto from the current expiry date of 30 June 2007 to 30 June 2008. This ensures that the veto power does not return to AWB(I) while it manages the 2007-08 harvest and allows wheat growers time to establish a new entity to exercise the monopoly on bulk wheat exports from 1 March 2008.(Read more in the bills digest. )

The bill also:

  • provides the Wheat Export Authority ('WEA') with broader information gathering powers;
  • provides the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry with the power to direct the WEA to undertake certain investigations;
  • empowers the Minister to designate a company other than AWB(I) as the holder of the single desk export privilege;
  • deregulates exports of wheat in bags and containers (i.e. non-bulk wheat) provided that exporters comply with a quality assurance scheme;
  • replaces the WEA with the Export Wheat Commission and changing the relevant governance arrangements in accordance with the Uhrig reforms(Read the Uhrig report here (1.3 MB).) for the governance of Commonwealth agencies.


Votes Not passed by a small majority

Nobody rebelled against their party.

Party Votes
Australian Democrats (100% turnout) 4 Yes 0 No
Lyn Allison Victoria Yes
Andrew Bartlett Queensland Yes
Andrew Murray WA Yes
Natasha Stott Despoja SA Yes
Australian Greens (100% turnout) 4 Yes 0 No
Bob Brown Tasmania Yes
Christine Milne Tasmania Yes
Kerry Nettle NSW Yes
Rachel Siewert WA Yes
Australian Labor Party (81% turnout) 22 Yes 0 No
Mark Bishop WA Yes
Carol Brown Tasmania Yes
George Campbell NSW Yes
Kim Carr Victoria Yes
Chris Evans WA Yes
John Faulkner NSW Yes
Michael Forshaw NSW Yes
Annette Hurley SA Yes
Steve Hutchins NSW Yes
Linda Kirk SA Yes
Joe Ludwig Queensland Yes
Kate Lundy ACT Yes
Gavin Marshall Victoria Yes
Anne McEwen SA Yes
Jan McLucas Queensland Yes
Claire Moore Queensland Yes
Kerry O'Brien Tasmania Yes
Robert Ray Victoria Yes
Ursula Stephens NSW Yes
Glenn Sterle WA Yes
Ruth Webber WA Yes
Dana Wortley SA Yes
Stephen Conroy Victoria Absent
Trish Crossin NT Absent
Helen Polley Tasmania Absent
Nick Sherry Tasmania Absent
Penny Wong SA Absent
Nigel Scullion NT Country Liberal Party Absent
John Hogg Queensland Deputy President Yes
Steve Fielding Victoria Family First Party No
Liberal Party (84% turnout) 0 Yes 27 No
Judith Adams WA No
Guy Barnett Tasmania No
Cory Bernardi SA No
Simon Birmingham SA No
Sue Boyce Queensland No
George Brandis Queensland No
Grant Chapman SA No
Richard Colbeck Tasmania No
Mathias Cormann WA No
Alan Eggleston WA No
Alan Ferguson SA No
Concetta Fierravanti-Wells NSW No
Mitch Fifield Victoria No
Mary Fisher SA No
Bill Heffernan NSW No
Gary Humphries ACT No
David Johnston WA No
Rod Kemp Victoria No
Ross Lightfoot WA No
Brett Mason Queensland No
Nick Minchin SA No
Stephen Parry Tasmania No
Marise Payne NSW No
Michael Ronaldson Victoria No
Judith Troeth Victoria No
Russell Trood Queensland No
John Watson Tasmania No
Eric Abetz Tasmania Absent
Helen Coonan NSW Absent
Chris Ellison WA Absent
Ian Macdonald Queensland Absent
Kay Patterson Victoria Absent
National Party (100% turnout) 0 Yes 5 No
Ron Boswell Queensland No
Barnaby Joyce Queensland No
Sandy Macdonald NSW No
Julian McGauran Victoria No
Fiona Nash NSW No
Paul Calvert Tasmania President No
Totals (86% turnout) 31 Yes – 34 No