The majority voted against a motion moved by Senators Andrew Bartlett and Kerry Nettle, which means that it was unsuccessful.

The motion would have amended earlier motion no. 1 introduced by Liberal Senator Chris Ellison, which was:

(1) That: (a) the Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws—Superannuation) Bill 2008 be referred to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee for inquiry and report; and (b) any related bill or bills that may be introduced to give effect to the recommendations of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s report Same Sex: Same Entitlements, dated May 2007, also be referred to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee for inquiry and report together with the following matters: (i) the definition of ‘couple relationship’, (ii) empirical evidence from the states concerning the existence, recognition and relative numbers of interdependent relationships, other than de facto (whether heterosexual or same-sex) and marital relationships, (iii) whether the definition of ‘couple relationship’ should be amended to incorporate other interdependent relationships and, if so, whether the definitions should be broadened to include those relationships or whether a separate definition is required, (iv) the fiscal implications of the statutory recognition of other interdependent relationships for superannuation and taxation purposes, (v) the definitions of ‘child’ and ‘child of a couple relationship’, (vi) the legal and fiscal implications of the definitions referred to in (v), particularly as they relate to the rights, obligations and liabilities of co-parents (i.e., the parent in a couple relationship that does not have a biological connection to a child of that relationship), and (vii) all other matters considered necessary by the committee.

(2) That the committee is not to conclude its consideration of the matter contained in subparagraph (1)(a) until it has concluded its consideration of the matters in subparagraph (1)(b).

(3) That the committee must hear evidence, inter alia, from: (a) the Attorney-General’s Department; (b) the Department of Finance and Deregulation; (c) the Relationship Registries of Tasmania, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory; (d) the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission; and (e) the Law Council of Australia (Family Law Section).

Senator Bartlett and Senator Nettle's unsuccessful motion was the following:(Read Senator Bartlett's explanation of their motion here. )

(1) At the end of subparagraph (1)(a), add “by June 24, 2008”.

(2) Omit paragraph (2).

Background to the bill

The Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws—Superannuation) Bill 2008 is part of a wider reform that seeks to end discriminatory treatment of same-sex couples under Commonwealth laws. It was introduced in response to the Same Sex: Same Entitlements report by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission ('HREOC').(Read more about the bill in its bills digest (304 KB). )

The bill amends fourteen Acts in relation to Commonwealth superannuation and pension schemes to ensure that same-sex partners and their children are able to access reversionary superannuation benefits upon the death of a scheme member and in related taxation treatment of superannuation benefits.(Read more about the bill, including its explanatory memorandum, here.)


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 (78% turnout) 21 Yes 0 No
Mark Bishop WA Yes
Carol Brown Tasmania Yes
George Campbell NSW Yes
Jacinta Collins Victoria Yes
Trish Crossin NT Yes
Chris Evans WA Yes
Michael Forshaw NSW Yes
Annette Hurley SA Yes
Linda Kirk SA 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
Helen Polley Tasmania Yes
Nick Sherry Tasmania Yes
Ursula Stephens NSW Yes
Glenn Sterle WA Yes
Ruth Webber WA Yes
Dana Wortley SA Yes
Kim Carr Victoria Absent
Stephen Conroy Victoria Absent
John Faulkner NSW Absent
Steve Hutchins NSW Absent
Joe Ludwig Queensland Absent
Penny Wong SA Absent
Nigel Scullion NT Country Liberal Party No
John Hogg Queensland Deputy President Yes
Steve Fielding Victoria Family First Party No
Liberal Party (91% turnout) 0 Yes 29 No
Eric Abetz Tasmania 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
David Bushby Tasmania No
Grant Chapman SA No
Richard Colbeck Tasmania No
Helen Coonan NSW No
Mathias Cormann WA No
Alan Eggleston WA No
Chris Ellison WA No
Concetta Fierravanti-Wells NSW No
Mitch Fifield Victoria No
Mary Fisher SA No
David Johnston WA No
Rod Kemp Victoria No
Ian Macdonald Queensland No
Brett Mason Queensland No
Nick Minchin SA No
Stephen Parry Tasmania No
Kay Patterson Victoria No
Marise Payne NSW No
Michael Ronaldson Victoria No
Judith Troeth Victoria No
Russell Trood Queensland No
John Watson Tasmania No
Bill Heffernan NSW Absent
Gary Humphries ACT Absent
Ross Lightfoot WA Absent
National Party (60% turnout) 0 Yes 3 No
Ron Boswell Queensland No
Sandy Macdonald NSW No
Julian McGauran Victoria No
Barnaby Joyce Queensland Absent
Fiona Nash NSW Absent
Alan Ferguson SA President No
Totals (86% turnout) 30 Yes – 35 No