The majority voted in favour of motion no. 1, as amended, which was introduced by Liberal Senator Chris Ellison and then amended by Liberal Senator Stephen Parry.

The motion, as amended, 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 to report on 30 September 2008 or after the consideration of any related bills mentioned in paragraph (1)(b), whichever is the sooner.

(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).

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 Passed by a small majority

Nobody rebelled against their party.

Party Votes
Australian Democrats (100% turnout) 0 Yes 4 No
Lyn Allison Victoria No
Andrew Bartlett Queensland No
Andrew Murray WA No
Natasha Stott Despoja SA No
Australian Greens (100% turnout) 0 Yes 4 No
Bob Brown Tasmania No
Christine Milne Tasmania No
Kerry Nettle NSW No
Rachel Siewert WA No
Australian Labor Party (81% turnout) 0 Yes 22 No
Mark Bishop WA No
Carol Brown Tasmania No
George Campbell NSW No
Jacinta Collins Victoria No
Trish Crossin NT No
Chris Evans WA No
Michael Forshaw NSW No
Annette Hurley SA No
Steve Hutchins NSW No
Linda Kirk SA No
Kate Lundy ACT No
Gavin Marshall Victoria No
Anne McEwen SA No
Jan McLucas Queensland No
Claire Moore Queensland No
Kerry O'Brien Tasmania No
Helen Polley Tasmania No
Nick Sherry Tasmania No
Ursula Stephens NSW No
Glenn Sterle WA No
Ruth Webber WA No
Dana Wortley SA No
Kim Carr Victoria Absent
Stephen Conroy Victoria Absent
John Faulkner NSW Absent
Joe Ludwig Queensland Absent
Penny Wong SA Absent
Nigel Scullion NT Country Liberal Party Yes
John Hogg Queensland Deputy President No
Steve Fielding Victoria Family First Party Yes
Liberal Party (91% turnout) 29 Yes 0 No
Eric Abetz Tasmania Yes
Judith Adams WA Yes
Guy Barnett Tasmania Yes
Cory Bernardi SA Yes
Simon Birmingham SA Yes
Sue Boyce Queensland Yes
George Brandis Queensland Yes
David Bushby Tasmania Yes
Grant Chapman SA Yes
Richard Colbeck Tasmania Yes
Helen Coonan NSW Yes
Mathias Cormann WA Yes
Alan Eggleston WA Yes
Chris Ellison WA Yes
Concetta Fierravanti-Wells NSW Yes
Mitch Fifield Victoria Yes
Mary Fisher SA Yes
David Johnston WA Yes
Rod Kemp Victoria Yes
Ian Macdonald Queensland Yes
Brett Mason Queensland Yes
Nick Minchin SA Yes
Stephen Parry Tasmania Yes
Kay Patterson Victoria Yes
Marise Payne NSW Yes
Michael Ronaldson Victoria Yes
Judith Troeth Victoria Yes
Russell Trood Queensland Yes
John Watson Tasmania Yes
Bill Heffernan NSW Absent
Gary Humphries ACT Absent
Ross Lightfoot WA Absent
National Party (60% turnout) 3 Yes 0 No
Ron Boswell Queensland Yes
Sandy Macdonald NSW Yes
Julian McGauran Victoria Yes
Barnaby Joyce Queensland Absent
Fiona Nash NSW Absent
Alan Ferguson SA President Yes
Totals (87% turnout) 35 Yes – 31 No