The majority voted against a motion introduced by Greens Senator Penny Wright, which was:

That the Senate-

(a)   notes that:

(i)   up to 90 per cent of marine life within the Great Australian Bight is found nowhere else on Earth,

(ii)   the Great Australian Bight is an important feeding and migration area to approximately 30 species of whales and dolphins, including sperm whales, beaked whales, southern right whales and the critically endangered blue whale, and

(iii)   less than 1 per cent of this area is protected from oil and gas operations;

(b)   recognises that:

(i)   over the past 3 years, the Government has progressively opened up more areas in the Great Australian Bight to oil and gas exploration,

(ii)    BP holds four oil and gas exploration leases in the Great Australian Bight, the boundaries of which overlap with the Great Australian Bight Marine Park,

(iii)   BP is currently conducting seismic testing in marine park areas to explore for oil and gas, and such testing is moving into known whale feeding regions,

(iv)   grave concerns have been expressed by a number of environmental groups about the risks associated with seismic testing occurring too close to whales, including organ and lung damage, hearing damage and haemorrhaging, which can result in death, and

(v)   the Great Australia Bight is an iconic and globally significant area for marine life and its unique ecology and environment must be protected and preserved for the benefit of future generations; and

(c)   calls on the Government to:

(i)   prioritise the protection and preservation of marine life in the Great Australian Bight by creating a network of large marine sanctuaries,(Read more about Commonwealth marine reserves here.)

(ii)   impose a moratorium on the issuing of oil and gas leases in the Great Australian Bight until after final decisions have been made regarding the establishment of marine sanctuaries in the Great Australian Bight through the Commonwealth marine bioregional planning process, and

(iii)   prohibit night-time seismic testing and require the mandatory use of passive acoustic technology when conducting such testing in the Great Australian Bight.


Votes Not passed by a modest majority

Nobody rebelled against their party.

Party Votes
Australian Greens (100% turnout) 9 Yes 0 No
Bob Brown Tasmania Yes
Richard Di Natale Victoria Yes
Sarah Hanson-Young SA Yes
Scott Ludlam WA Yes
Christine Milne Tasmania Yes
Lee Rhiannon NSW Yes
Rachel Siewert WA Yes
Larissa Waters Queensland Yes
Penny Wright SA Yes
Australian Labor Party (63% turnout) 0 Yes 19 No
Catryna Bilyk Tasmania No
Doug Cameron NSW No
Kim Carr Victoria No
Jacinta Collins Victoria No
Trish Crossin NT No
David Feeney Victoria No
Alex Gallacher SA No
Kate Lundy ACT No
Gavin Marshall Victoria No
Anne McEwen SA No
Claire Moore Queensland No
Helen Polley Tasmania No
Louise Pratt WA No
Nick Sherry Tasmania No
Lisa Singh Tasmania No
Ursula Stephens NSW No
Glenn Sterle WA No
Matt Thistlethwaite NSW No
Anne Urquhart Tasmania No
Mark Bishop WA Absent
Carol Brown Tasmania Absent
Bob Carr NSW Absent
Stephen Conroy Victoria Absent
Chris Evans WA Absent
Don Farrell SA Absent
John Faulkner NSW Absent
Mark Furner Queensland Absent
Joe Ludwig Queensland Absent
Jan McLucas Queensland Absent
Penny Wong SA Absent
Nigel Scullion NT Country Liberal Party Absent
John Madigan Victoria Democratic Labor Party No
Stephen Parry Tasmania Deputy President No
Nick Xenophon SA Independent Absent
Liberal Party (19% turnout) 0 Yes 5 No
Simon Birmingham SA No
Sean Edwards SA No
Mitch Fifield Victoria No
Helen Kroger Victoria No
Arthur Sinodinos NSW No
Eric Abetz Tasmania Absent
Judith Adams WA Absent
Christopher Back WA Absent
Cory Bernardi SA Absent
Sue Boyce Queensland Absent
George Brandis Queensland Absent
David Bushby Tasmania Absent
Michaelia Cash WA Absent
Richard Colbeck Tasmania Absent
Mathias Cormann WA Absent
Alan Eggleston WA Absent
David Fawcett SA Absent
Concetta Fierravanti-Wells NSW Absent
Mary Fisher SA Absent
Bill Heffernan NSW Absent
Gary Humphries ACT Absent
David Johnston WA Absent
Ian Macdonald Queensland Absent
Brett Mason Queensland Absent
Marise Payne NSW Absent
Michael Ronaldson Victoria Absent
Scott Ryan Victoria Absent
National Party (60% turnout) 0 Yes 3 No
Barnaby Joyce Queensland No
Bridget McKenzie Victoria No
Fiona Nash NSW No
Ron Boswell Queensland Absent
John Williams NSW Absent
John Hogg Queensland President No
Totals (51% turnout) 9 Yes – 30 No