The majority voted in favour of passing the bills (in parliamentary jargon, they gave the bills a third reading). Since the bills have already been passed in the House of Represenatives, they will now become law.

What do the bills do?

The bills 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 (a suggested starting point is below).

What should I do now?

A good starting point is to visit the Government's StudyAssist website, which gives an overview of the changes and what they mean for you.

Votes Passed by a modest majority

Nobody rebelled against their party.

Party Votes
Australian Greens (90% turnout) 0 Yes 9 No
Richard Di Natale Victoria No
Sarah Hanson-Young SA No
Nick McKim Tasmania No
Lee Rhiannon NSW No
Janet Rice Victoria No
Rachel Siewert WA No
Robert Simms SA No
Larissa Waters Queensland No
Peter Whish-Wilson Tasmania No
Scott Ludlam WA Absent
Australian Labor Party (67% turnout) 16 Yes 0 No
Joe Bullock WA Yes
Doug Cameron NSW Yes
Kim Carr Victoria Yes
Sam Dastyari NSW Yes
Alex Gallacher SA Yes
Katy Gallagher ACT Yes
Chris Ketter Queensland Yes
Sue Lines WA Yes
Joe Ludwig Queensland Yes
Jenny McAllister NSW Yes
Claire Moore Queensland Yes
Deborah O'Neill NSW Yes
Nova Peris NT Yes
Helen Polley Tasmania Yes
Glenn Sterle WA Yes
Anne Urquhart Tasmania Yes
Catryna Bilyk Tasmania Absent
Carol Brown Tasmania Absent
Jacinta Collins Victoria Absent
Stephen Conroy Victoria Absent
Anne McEwen SA Absent
Jan McLucas Queensland Absent
Lisa Singh Tasmania Absent
Penny Wong SA Absent
Ricky Muir Victoria Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party Yes
Nigel Scullion NT Country Liberal Party Absent
Gavin Marshall Victoria Deputy President Absent
Bob Day SA Family First Party Absent
Glenn Lazarus Queensland Independent Yes
John Madigan Victoria Independent Yes
Jacqui Lambie Tasmania Independent Absent
David Leyonhjelm NSW Liberal Democratic Party Yes
Liberal National Party (100% turnout) 2 Yes 0 No
Matthew Canavan Queensland Yes
James McGrath Queensland Yes
Liberal Party (28% turnout) 7 Yes 0 No
Simon Birmingham SA Yes
David Bushby Tasmania Yes
Sean Edwards SA Yes
Jo Lindgren Queensland Yes
Linda Reynolds WA Yes
Michael Ronaldson Victoria Yes
Anne Ruston SA Yes
Eric Abetz Tasmania Absent
Christopher Back WA Absent
Cory Bernardi SA Absent
George Brandis Queensland Absent
Michaelia Cash WA Absent
Richard Colbeck Tasmania Absent
Mathias Cormann WA Absent
David Fawcett SA 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
Scott Ryan Victoria Absent
Zed Seselja ACT Absent
Arthur Sinodinos NSW Absent
Dean Smith WA Absent
National Party (25% turnout) 1 Yes 0 No
Bridget McKenzie Victoria Yes
Fiona Nash NSW Absent
Barry O'Sullivan Queensland Absent
John Williams NSW Absent
Nick Xenophon SA Nick Xenophon Team Absent
Dio Wang WA Palmer United Party Yes
Stephen Parry Tasmania President Absent
Totals (53% turnout) 31 Yes – 9 No