Summary

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The majority voted in favour of a motion introduced by SA Senator Rex Patrick (Centre Alliance), which means it succeeded.

Motion text

That—

(1) The Senate notes that:

(a) on 12 February 2018, the Senate agreed to an order for the production of documents directed at the Minister representing the Minister for Defence Industry, for the Australian Industry Capability Plan submitted by DCNS (now Naval Group) to the Department of Defence in its response to the Future Submarine Competitive Evaluation Process (CEP);

(b) the order followed a lack of clarity as to the minimum level of Australian industry involvement expectations of Government for the Future Submarine Project;

(c) on 15 February 2018, the duty minister tabled a letter in response to both orders for production claiming public interest immunity and stated that release of the document would:

(i) affect the commercial interests of Naval Group, and

(ii) adversely affect Australia's international relations, and advised the Senate that the Government was awaiting the outcome of an Information Commissioner Review into freedom of information (FOI) exemptions claimed over the same document;

(d) it was conceded by government in 1992, that the fact that a freedom of information request for information has been or could be refused under the FOI Act is not a legitimate basis for a claim of public interest immunity in a parliamentary forum;

(e) on 25 June 2014, the Senate passed a resolution declaring that declining to provide documents or answer questions on the basis that an FOI request has been made for the same information is an unacceptable response, is not supported by the FOI Act and shows a profound lack of respect for the Senate and its committees;

(f) a Senate claim of commercial confidentiality must be carefully advanced and claimed narrowly so as to recognise the public interest that lies in openness and transparency on this very important project;

(g) the claim that the release of the documents will affect international relations is not properly made out and is flawed (and has not even been advanced by the Department of Defence as a concern in the Information Commissioner Review) because the document which is the subject of the order is a document of a French-law Public Limited Company, not a document of the French State; and

(h) orders for the production of documents are a key Senate tool used to ensure effective oversight of Government, and must be responded to by Ministers with utmost consideration, care and accuracy.

(2) The Minister for Defence be required to attend the Senate at the conclusion of question time on 10 May 2018 to make a statement, of not more than 20 minutes, addressing why the Minister:

(a) has advanced a claim showing a profound lack of respect for the Senate;

(b) offered a broad confidentiality claim that does not correctly balance the public interest in knowing what DCNS promised, in respect of Australian industry involvement in our largest ever Defence project; and

(c) has advanced a claim that releasing the document to the Senate would affect Australia's international relations knowing that this claim is inconsistent with the position of her own Department.

(3) Any senator may move a motion to take note of the Minister's statement, and any such motion may be debated for no longer than 1 hour, and have precedence over all other government business until determined.

Votes Passed by a small majority

Nobody rebelled against their party.

Party Votes
Cory Bernardi SA Australian Conservatives Absent
Australian Greens (100% turnout) 9 Yes 0 No
Andrew Bartlett Queensland Yes
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
Jordon Steele-John WA Yes
Peter Whish-Wilson Tasmania Yes
Australian Labor Party (72% turnout) 18 Yes 0 No
Carol Brown Tasmania Yes
Doug Cameron NSW Yes
Kim Carr Victoria Yes
Anthony Chisholm Queensland Yes
Jacinta Collins Victoria Yes
Don Farrell SA Yes
Alex Gallacher SA Yes
Kristina Keneally NSW Yes
Kimberley Kitching Victoria Yes
Jenny McAllister NSW Yes
Malarndirri McCarthy NT Yes
Claire Moore Queensland Yes
Deborah O'Neill NSW Yes
Louise Pratt WA Yes
Lisa Singh Tasmania Yes
Glenn Sterle WA Yes
Anne Urquhart Tasmania Yes
Murray Watt Queensland Yes
Catryna Bilyk Tasmania Absent
Patrick Dodson WA Absent
Katy Gallagher ACT Absent
Chris Ketter Queensland Absent
Gavin Marshall Victoria Absent
Helen Polley Tasmania Absent
Penny Wong SA Absent
Nigel Scullion NT Country Liberal Party No
Derryn Hinch Victoria Derryn Hinch's Justice Party Yes
Sue Lines WA Deputy President Absent
Tim Storer SA Independent Yes
Fraser Anning Queensland Independent No
Lucy Gichuhi SA Independent No
Steve Martin 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 (70% turnout) 0 Yes 16 No
Eric Abetz Tasmania No
Simon Birmingham SA No
Slade Brockman WA No
David Bushby Tasmania No
Richard Colbeck Tasmania No
Jonathon Duniam Tasmania No
David Fawcett SA No
Concetta Fierravanti-Wells NSW No
Mitch Fifield Victoria No
Jim Molan NSW No
James Paterson Victoria No
Marise Payne NSW No
Linda Reynolds WA No
Zed Seselja ACT No
Dean Smith WA No
Amanda Stoker Queensland No
Michaelia Cash WA Absent
Mathias Cormann WA Absent
Lucy Gichuhi SA Absent
Jane Hume Victoria Absent
Ian Macdonald Queensland Absent
Anne Ruston SA Absent
Arthur Sinodinos NSW Absent
National Party (33% turnout) 0 Yes 1 No
John Williams NSW No
Bridget McKenzie Victoria Absent
Barry O'Sullivan Queensland Absent
Nick Xenophon Team (100% turnout) 2 Yes 0 No
Stirling Griff SA Yes
Rex Patrick SA Yes
Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party (0.0% turnout) Absent
Brian Burston NSW Absent
Peter Georgiou WA Absent
Pauline Hanson Queensland Absent
Scott Ryan Victoria President No
Totals (72% turnout) 31 Yes – 24 No