The majority voted against an amendment introduced by Greens Senator Robert Simms.

Amendment text

At the end of the motion, add:

", but the Senate calls on the Government to use existing mutual taxation agreements to assist in the identification of foreign residents and overseas travellers required to repay HELP [Higher Education Loan Programme] or TSL [Trade Support Loan] debt, rather than require those residents and travellers to comply with changes in Australian law.".

What does this amendment mean?

Senator Simms introduced this amendment in order to "tak[e] the onus off the individual" (see his whole explanation). Currently, the bills make it the responsibility of overseas Australians (or Australians planning on being overseas for over six months) to be aware of the new requirement to repay their debts and to register with the Australian Taxation Office.

What exactly do the bills do?

These bills relate to the policy for requiring Australians working overseas to repay their student debts.

If made into law, the bills will require Australians living overseas and earning over the threshold (which was $54,126 in 2015–16) to repay their Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) debt or Trade Support Loan (TSL) debt under the same compulsory repayment scheme that applies in Australia.

The bills will also require Australians with HELP or TSL debts to notify the Commissioner of Taxation if they plan to be overseas for at least 183 days or if they have been overseas for at least 183 days over any 12 month period. The notification will have to occur either:

  • no later than seven days after leaving Australia; or
  • no later than seven days after the end of those 183 days

See StudyAssist for information about when these changes will come into effect.

Previously, Australians with HELP or TSL debts who moved overseas didn't have to make any repayments, regardless of how much they earned. Nor did they have to notify the Commissioner if they went overseas.

For more information, read the bills digest. Also see ABC News.

Disclaimer: Don't rely on this information to determine your new tax obligations - seek government information (for example, the StudyAssist website).

Votes Not passed by a modest majority

Nobody rebelled against their party.

Party Votes
Australian Greens (90% turnout) 9 Yes 0 No
Richard Di Natale Victoria Yes
Sarah Hanson-Young SA Yes
Nick McKim Tasmania Yes
Lee Rhiannon NSW Yes
Janet Rice Victoria Yes
Rachel Siewert WA Yes
Robert Simms SA Yes
Larissa Waters Queensland Yes
Peter Whish-Wilson Tasmania Yes
Scott Ludlam WA Absent
Australian Labor Party (58% turnout) 0 Yes 14 No
Catryna Bilyk Tasmania No
Joe Bullock WA No
Doug Cameron NSW No
Kim Carr Victoria No
Jacinta Collins Victoria No
Sam Dastyari NSW No
Alex Gallacher SA No
Katy Gallagher ACT No
Chris Ketter Queensland No
Sue Lines WA No
Joe Ludwig Queensland No
Jenny McAllister NSW No
Claire Moore Queensland No
Nova Peris NT No
Carol Brown Tasmania Absent
Stephen Conroy Victoria Absent
Anne McEwen SA Absent
Jan McLucas Queensland Absent
Deborah O'Neill NSW Absent
Helen Polley Tasmania Absent
Lisa Singh Tasmania Absent
Glenn Sterle WA Absent
Anne Urquhart Tasmania Absent
Penny Wong SA Absent
Ricky Muir Victoria Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party No
Nigel Scullion NT Country Liberal Party Absent
Gavin Marshall Victoria Deputy President Absent
Bob Day SA Family First Party Absent
Glenn Lazarus Queensland Independent No
John Madigan Victoria Independent No
Jacqui Lambie Tasmania Independent Absent
David Leyonhjelm NSW Liberal Democratic Party No
Liberal National Party (100% turnout) 0 Yes 2 No
Matthew Canavan Queensland No
James McGrath Queensland No
Liberal Party (40% turnout) 0 Yes 10 No
Eric Abetz Tasmania No
Christopher Back WA No
Simon Birmingham SA No
David Bushby Tasmania No
Sean Edwards SA No
David Fawcett SA No
Jo Lindgren Queensland No
Linda Reynolds WA No
Anne Ruston SA No
Zed Seselja ACT No
Cory Bernardi SA Absent
George Brandis Queensland Absent
Michaelia Cash WA Absent
Richard Colbeck Tasmania Absent
Mathias Cormann WA Absent
Concetta Fierravanti-Wells NSW Absent
Mitch Fifield Victoria Absent
Bill Heffernan NSW Absent
David Johnston WA Absent
Ian Macdonald Queensland Absent
Marise Payne NSW Absent
Michael Ronaldson Victoria Absent
Scott Ryan Victoria Absent
Arthur Sinodinos NSW Absent
Dean Smith WA Absent
National Party (50% turnout) 0 Yes 2 No
Bridget McKenzie Victoria No
John Williams NSW No
Fiona Nash NSW Absent
Barry O'Sullivan Queensland Absent
Nick Xenophon SA Nick Xenophon Team Absent
Dio Wang WA Palmer United Party No
Stephen Parry Tasmania President Absent
Totals (55% turnout) 9 Yes – 33 No