The majority supported passing the bill in the Senate (in parliamentary jargon, they supported reading the bill for a third time). Since it has already passed in the House of Representatives, the bill will now become law.

The main idea of the bill is to recognise local governments in the Australian Constitution but it can't do this on its own. To amend the Constitution, there must be a successful referendum (as required by Section 128).

Rebellious Coalition senators

Coalition senators were split on this question. Seven Liberal senators and three National Party senators voted 'yes' while six Liberal senators and 1 National Party senator voted 'no'.

Liberal and National Party members are allowed to rebel (unlike Labor Party members), but it is increasingly uncommon.

What does recognising local governments mean?

Recognising local governments in the Constitution would mean that the federal government could directly fund local governments instead of having to fund them through state governments.

For an academic discussion of the effects of recognition, see Professor Anne Twomey's report (906 KB).

Background to the bill

This is the third time that the federal government has tried to change the Constitution to recognise local governments. The first time was in 1974 and the second time was in 1988.

See the bills digest (775 KB) for more background information.

Votes Passed by a large majority

There were 7 rebellions in this division.

Party Votes
Australian Greens (100% turnout) 9 Yes 0 No
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
Peter Whish-Wilson Tasmania Yes
Penny Wright SA Yes
Australian Labor Party (80% turnout) 24 Yes 0 No
Catryna Bilyk Tasmania Yes
Mark Bishop WA Yes
Carol Brown Tasmania Yes
Doug Cameron NSW Yes
Kim Carr Victoria Yes
Jacinta Collins Victoria Yes
Trish Crossin NT Yes
John Faulkner NSW Yes
David Feeney Victoria Yes
Mark Furner Queensland Yes
Alex Gallacher SA Yes
Sue Lines WA Yes
Kate Lundy ACT Yes
Gavin Marshall Victoria Yes
Anne McEwen SA Yes
Jan McLucas Queensland Yes
Claire Moore Queensland Yes
Helen Polley Tasmania Yes
Louise Pratt WA Yes
Lisa Singh Tasmania Yes
Ursula Stephens NSW Yes
Glenn Sterle WA Yes
Lin Thorp Tasmania Yes
Anne Urquhart Tasmania Yes
Bob Carr NSW Absent
Stephen Conroy Victoria Absent
Don Farrell SA Absent
Joe Ludwig Queensland Absent
Matt Thistlethwaite NSW Absent
Penny Wong SA Absent
Nigel Scullion NT Country Liberal Party Yes
John Madigan Victoria Democratic Labor Party No
Stephen Parry Tasmania Deputy President Absent
Nick Xenophon SA Independent Yes
Liberal Party (48% turnout) 7 Yes 6 No
Simon Birmingham SA Yes
Sue Boyce Queensland Yes
Gary Humphries ACT Yes
Ian Macdonald Queensland Yes
Marise Payne NSW Yes
Anne Ruston SA Yes
Arthur Sinodinos NSW Yes
Christopher Back WA No
Cory Bernardi SA No
David Bushby Tasmania No
Alan Eggleston WA No
David Fawcett SA No
Dean Smith WA No
Eric Abetz Tasmania Absent
George Brandis Queensland Absent
Michaelia Cash WA Absent
Richard Colbeck Tasmania Absent
Mathias Cormann WA Absent
Sean Edwards SA Absent
Concetta Fierravanti-Wells NSW Absent
Mitch Fifield Victoria Absent
Bill Heffernan NSW Absent
David Johnston WA Absent
Helen Kroger Victoria Absent
Brett Mason Queensland Absent
Michael Ronaldson Victoria Absent
Scott Ryan Victoria Absent
National Party (80% turnout) 3 Yes 1 No
Barnaby Joyce Queensland Yes
Fiona Nash NSW Yes
John Williams NSW Yes
Bridget McKenzie Victoria No
Ron Boswell Queensland Absent
John Hogg Queensland President Yes
Totals (71% turnout) 46 Yes – 8 No