Summary

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Nationals Senator Barry O'Sullivan (Qld), which means it failed.

The Coalition was divided on this motion, with only a third of the Liberal Party showing up to the vote and those that did show up being split down the middle. Liberal Senator James McGrath (Qld) explained that:

While the government strongly supports freedom of speech, we note factual inaccuracies in the wording of this motion and cannot support it on that basis.

Motion text

That the Senate:

(a) notes:

(i) that the Australian Defence Force has recently drawn headlines following an indication it could end the use of gender-specific pronouns, and enforce a new language regime on our defence personnel,

(ii) that the Victorian public service, with support from the Victorian Government, has commenced a campaign to enforce the belief that masculine and feminine pronouns are somehow restricting,

(iii) that in 2016, the Queensland Government ended its inclusion of male or female in drivers' licence information, following complaints from the gender-diverse community,

(iv) the bully and intimidation from some within the gender-diverse community towards iconic Australian comedian Mr Barry Humphries – a man who has been a public trailblazer in challenging community expectations surrounding gender stereotypes – when he questioned the legitimacy of expanding bathrooms, and indoctrinating children in certain social outlooks relating to gender,

(v) that Qantas made international headlines earlier this year when it was revealed it would focus on directing staff language and behaviour, as part of a so-called 'Spirit of Inclusion' month that would "recognise reality" by forcing staff to follow a strict language regime by replacing language such as husband, wife, mum and dad to avoid any potential offence potentially felt by same-gender couples, and

(vi) that the Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Mr Parkinson, has repeatedly stated his belief in the highly contentious concept of "unconscious bias", and has spent millions of taxpayer dollars attempting to find evidence to support his personal beliefs and alter the personal actions of staff under his control;

(b) reaffirms its support for free and fearless speech, and open and honest discourse as foundations of western civilisation;

(c) rejects any attempt to enforce an overhaul of longstanding language usage for innocuous and benevolent terms that are spoken with no intended malice; and

(d) condemns any form of crusading, bullying, intimidation and use of authority by government, activists and corporate leaders that attempts to stifle free speech by enforcing a specific world viewpoint on linguistics and social policy.

Votes Not passed by a modest majority

There was 3 rebellions in this division.

Party Votes
Cory Bernardi SA Australian Conservatives Yes
Australian Greens (89% turnout) 0 Yes 8 No
Andrew Bartlett Queensland No
Richard Di Natale Victoria No
Sarah Hanson-Young SA No
Nick McKim Tasmania No
Janet Rice Victoria No
Rachel Siewert WA No
Jordon Steele-John WA No
Peter Whish-Wilson Tasmania No
Lee Rhiannon NSW Absent
Australian Labor Party (72% turnout) 0 Yes 18 No
Catryna Bilyk Tasmania No
Doug Cameron NSW No
Anthony Chisholm Queensland No
Jacinta Collins Victoria No
Don Farrell SA No
Alex Gallacher SA No
Kristina Keneally NSW No
Chris Ketter Queensland No
Gavin Marshall Victoria No
Jenny McAllister NSW No
Malarndirri McCarthy NT No
Claire Moore Queensland No
Deborah O'Neill NSW No
Louise Pratt WA No
Lisa Singh Tasmania No
David Smith ACT No
Anne Urquhart Tasmania No
Murray Watt Queensland No
Carol Brown Tasmania Absent
Kim Carr Victoria Absent
Patrick Dodson WA Absent
Kimberley Kitching Victoria Absent
Helen Polley Tasmania Absent
Glenn Sterle WA Absent
Penny Wong SA Absent
Centre Alliance (100% turnout) 2 Yes 0 No
Stirling Griff SA Yes
Rex Patrick SA Yes
Nigel Scullion NT Country Liberal Party Absent
Derryn Hinch Victoria Derryn Hinch's Justice Party No
Sue Lines WA Deputy President Absent
Lucy Gichuhi SA Independent Yes
Steve Martin Tasmania Independent No
Tim Storer SA Independent No
Fraser Anning Queensland Katter's Australian Party Absent
David Leyonhjelm NSW Liberal Democratic Party Yes
Liberal National Party (50% turnout) 0 Yes 1 No
James McGrath Queensland No
Matthew Canavan Queensland Absent
Liberal Party (32% turnout) 4 Yes 3 No
Eric Abetz Tasmania Yes
Ian Macdonald Queensland Yes
Jim Molan NSW Yes
Amanda Stoker Queensland Yes
Simon Birmingham SA No
Richard Colbeck Tasmania No
Marise Payne NSW No
Slade Brockman WA Absent
David Bushby Tasmania Absent
Michaelia Cash WA Absent
Mathias Cormann WA Absent
Jonathon Duniam Tasmania Absent
David Fawcett SA Absent
Concetta Fierravanti-Wells NSW Absent
Mitch Fifield Victoria Absent
Jane Hume Victoria Absent
James Paterson Victoria Absent
Linda Reynolds WA Absent
Anne Ruston SA Absent
Zed Seselja ACT Absent
Arthur Sinodinos NSW Absent
Dean Smith WA Absent
National Party (67% turnout) 2 Yes 0 No
Barry O'Sullivan Queensland Yes
John Williams NSW Yes
Bridget McKenzie Victoria Absent
Nick Xenophon Team (100% turnout) 2 Yes 0 No
Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party (50% turnout) 1 Yes 0 No
Brian Burston NSW Yes
Peter Georgiou WA Absent
Pauline Hanson Queensland Absent
Scott Ryan Victoria President Absent
Brian Burston NSW United Australia Party Absent
Totals (59% turnout) 14 Yes – 33 No