The majority voted in favour of a motion introduced by Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie, which means it was successful.

Motions like these don't have legal force but do express the opinion of the Senate.

In terms of what her motion was about, Senator Lambie said that:

What is important here is the essence of the motion, which is the abuse of federal funds for many, many years and the refusal of support and Indigenous identity to almost 20,000 Indigenous Tasmanians for many, many years.

Why didn't Labor or the Greens support this motion?

Labor Senator Patrick Dodson (WA) said that:

I fully comprehend the issues that the motion seeks to address, but I cannot support it in its current form. The history in this country of identification and definition of who is and who is not an Aboriginal has been a vexed and challenging issue for our people for many generations. In my state of Western Australia, the authority to define and identify who was an Aboriginal led to binding laws that said who could marry whom, who could live with whom and how much a person should be paid for work.

Greens Senator Rachel Siewert (WA) said that:

We understand where Senator Lambie is coming from on this issue in trying to look at the expenditure of funds. We could support something along the lines of 'examines the allocation of funding and expenditure to Aboriginal Tasmanians to ensure that they are best targeted to continue to close the gap,' or something of that nature. I indicate that we would be prepared to support something along those lines, but we cannot support this particular motion.

Motion text


(1) With regard to Indigenous recognition in Tasmania, the Senate notes that the Premier of Tasmania made an historic Australia Day speech on the 21 January 2016 where he disclosed that something was very wrong with Indigenous policy because:

(a) the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that, from 2014, there were 25,845 Indigenous people in Tasmania while yet the Tasmanian Government estimated that there were only 6,000 Indigenous Tasmanians;

(b) there are Tasmanian families who identify as Tasmanian Aboriginals, yet the official statistics indicate that, potentially, only one in three members are actually recognised as such by this state;

(c) Federal Government funding represents the greatest proportion of support received by Tasmanian Aboriginals, contributing almost half a billion dollars in funding to Aboriginal Tasmanians, compared to about $8 million from the state government; and

(d) Tasmania's existing Indigenous policy is a long way from aligning with the Commonwealth's process; this means Tasmanians can be recognised as an Aboriginal in a national context, but not in their own home state.

(2) The Commonwealth funding of Indigenous Tasmanians be referred to the Finance and Public Administration References Committee for inquiry and report by 28 November 2016, with particular reference to whether hundreds of millions of dollars in Commonwealth funds over the last decade were unfairly, unjustly, or illegally allocated to, and spent on, only 6,000 Indigenous Tasmanians, rather than almost 26,000.

Votes Passed by a small majority

Nobody rebelled against their party.

Party Votes
Australian Greens (89% turnout) 0 Yes 8 No
Richard Di Natale Victoria No
Sarah Hanson-Young SA No
Scott Ludlam WA No
Nick McKim Tasmania No
Lee Rhiannon NSW No
Janet Rice Victoria No
Rachel Siewert WA No
Peter Whish-Wilson Tasmania No
Larissa Waters Queensland Absent
Australian Labor Party (88% turnout) 0 Yes 21 No
Catryna Bilyk Tasmania No
Carol Brown Tasmania No
Doug Cameron NSW No
Kim Carr Victoria No
Anthony Chisholm Queensland No
Jacinta Collins Victoria No
Sam Dastyari NSW No
Patrick Dodson WA No
Don Farrell SA No
Alex Gallacher SA No
Katy Gallagher ACT No
Chris Ketter Queensland No
Sue Lines WA No
Jenny McAllister NSW No
Malarndirri McCarthy NT No
Claire Moore Queensland No
Deborah O'Neill NSW No
Louise Pratt WA No
Glenn Sterle WA No
Anne Urquhart Tasmania No
Murray Watt Queensland No
Gavin Marshall Victoria Absent
Helen Polley Tasmania Absent
Lisa Singh Tasmania Absent
Penny Wong SA Absent
Nigel Scullion NT Country Liberal Party Yes
Derryn Hinch Victoria Derryn Hinch's Justice Party Yes
Gavin Marshall Victoria Deputy President No
Sue Lines WA Deputy President Absent
Bob Day SA Family First Party Absent
Jacqui Lambie Tasmania Independent Yes
Nick Xenophon SA Independent Yes
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 (77% turnout) 17 Yes 0 No
Christopher Back WA Yes
Simon Birmingham SA Yes
David Bushby Tasmania Yes
Michaelia Cash WA Yes
Jonathon Duniam Tasmania Yes
David Fawcett SA Yes
Concetta Fierravanti-Wells NSW Yes
Mitch Fifield Victoria Yes
Jane Hume Victoria Yes
Ian Macdonald Queensland Yes
James Paterson Victoria Yes
Marise Payne NSW Yes
Linda Reynolds WA Yes
Anne Ruston SA Yes
Scott Ryan Victoria Yes
Arthur Sinodinos NSW Yes
Dean Smith WA Yes
Eric Abetz Tasmania Absent
Cory Bernardi SA Absent
George Brandis Queensland Absent
Mathias Cormann WA Absent
Zed Seselja ACT Absent
National Party (100% turnout) 4 Yes 0 No
Bridget McKenzie Victoria Yes
Fiona Nash NSW Yes
Barry O'Sullivan Queensland Yes
John Williams NSW Yes
Nick Xenophon Team (67% turnout) 2 Yes 0 No
Stirling Griff SA Yes
Skye Kakoschke-Moore SA Yes
Nick Xenophon SA Absent
Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party (100% turnout) 4 Yes 0 No
Brian Burston NSW Yes
Rod Culleton WA Yes
Pauline Hanson Queensland Yes
Malcolm Roberts Queensland Yes
Stephen Parry Tasmania President Yes
Totals (87% turnout) 35 Yes – 30 No