The majority voted against amendments introduced by NSW Senator David Shoebridge (Greens), which means it failed.

What does this amendment do?

Senator Shoebridge explained that:

This amendment seeks to put in a new section 13GA into the Privacy Act, which would provide that an entity contravenes this subsection if the entity doesn't act and or engages in a practice that is in interference with the privacy of one or more individuals, and it seeks to retain the existing civil penalty of 2,000 penalty units for that breach. It also has a consequential amendment that provides that there's no retrospectivity in relation to that proposed provision.

The proposed new section 13GA would remove the necessity for 'repeated or serious' from the offence provision and provide for what pretty much every stakeholder said we need, whether it was Electronic Frontiers, Digital Rights Watch or even the business reps who came before the inquiry that we had: put in place a tiered approach. If the Greens amendment was successful, it would allow the regulator to have at least some nuance in how the regulator goes about enforcing privacy. But if they see a breach of the privacy laws—and it may well be a quite disturbing breach; it doesn't have to be serious or repeated, but it could be—then instead of having to go and press the nuclear launch button of the $50 million penalty they'd be able to seek a penalty that has a maximum value of some 2,000 penalty units for a corporation which would not see small or medium businesses or charities potentially going to the wall when the regulator takes action.

Without this, we're going to see no realistic way of enforcing the privacy laws against small and medium business or against the charitable and not-for-profit sector. If the only tool to hand for the regulator is a $50-million-plus maximum penalty, that is not going to be able to be used in any practical way against small and medium business or against NGOs and the not-for-profit sector; it just won't be. And we're going to pass a law here today that is actually going to mean less real power, less real capacity for the regulator to enforce our privacy laws.

Amendment text

(1) Schedule 1, page 5 (after line 10), after item 11, insert:

11A At the end of Division 1 of Part III


13GA Other interferences with privacy

An entity contravenes this subsection if the entity does an act, or engages in a practice, that is an interference with the privacy of one or more individuals.

Civil penalty: 2,000 penalty units

(2) Schedule 1, item 45, page 18 (after line 6), after subitem (3), insert:

(3A) Section 13GA of the Privacy Act 1988, as added by this Schedule, does not apply in relation to an act done, or a practice engaged in, before the commencement of this item.

Votes Not passed by a modest majority

Nobody rebelled against their party.

Party Votes
Australian Greens (100% turnout) 12 Yes 0 No
Penny Allman-Payne Queensland Yes
Dorinda Cox WA Yes
Mehreen Faruqi NSW Yes
Sarah Hanson-Young SA Yes
Nick McKim Tasmania Yes
Barbara Pocock SA Yes
Janet Rice Victoria Yes
David Shoebridge NSW Yes
Jordon Steele-John WA Yes
Lidia Thorpe Victoria Yes
Larissa Waters Queensland Yes
Peter Whish-Wilson Tasmania Yes
Australian Labor Party (76% turnout) 0 Yes 19 No
Tim Ayres NSW No
Catryna Bilyk Tasmania No
Carol Brown Tasmania No
Anthony Chisholm Queensland No
Patrick Dodson WA No
Don Farrell SA No
Katy Gallagher ACT No
Nita Green Queensland No
Karen Grogan SA No
Jenny McAllister NSW No
Fatima Payman WA No
Helen Polley Tasmania No
Louise Pratt WA No
Tony Sheldon NSW No
Marielle Smith SA No
Glenn Sterle WA No
Anne Urquhart Tasmania No
Murray Watt Queensland No
Linda White Victoria No
Raff Ciccone Victoria Absent
Malarndirri McCarthy NT Absent
Deborah O'Neill NSW Absent
Jana Stewart Victoria Absent
Jess Walsh Victoria Absent
Penny Wong SA Absent
Jacinta Nampijinpa Price NT Country Liberal Party Absent
Andrew McLachlan SA Deputy President No
David Pocock ACT Independent Absent
Jacqui Lambie Network (0% turnout) Absent
Jacqui Lambie Tasmania Absent
Tammy Tyrrell Tasmania Absent
Liberal National Party (100% turnout) 0 Yes 2 No
Matthew Canavan Queensland No
James McGrath Queensland No
Liberal Party (29% turnout) 0 Yes 7 No
Alex Antic SA No
Andrew Bragg NSW No
Michaelia Cash WA No
Sarah Henderson Victoria No
James Paterson Victoria No
Marise Payne NSW No
Paul Scarr Queensland No
Wendy Askew Tasmania Absent
Simon Birmingham SA Absent
Slade Brockman WA Absent
Claire Chandler Tasmania Absent
Richard Colbeck Tasmania Absent
Jonathon Duniam Tasmania Absent
David Fawcett SA Absent
Hollie Hughes NSW Absent
Jane Hume Victoria Absent
Kerrynne Liddle SA Absent
Jim Molan NSW Absent
Matt O'Sullivan WA Absent
Gerard Rennick Queensland Absent
Linda Reynolds WA Absent
Anne Ruston SA Absent
Dean Smith WA Absent
David Van Victoria Absent
National Party (0% turnout) Absent
Ross Cadell NSW Absent
Perin Davey NSW Absent
Susan McDonald Queensland Absent
Bridget McKenzie Victoria Absent
Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party (0% turnout) Absent
Pauline Hanson Queensland Absent
Malcolm Roberts Queensland Absent
Sue Lines WA President No
Ralph Babet Victoria United Australia Party No
Totals (57% turnout) 12 Yes – 31 No