The majority voted in favour of a motion to give the bill a second reading, which is parliamentary jargon for agreeing with its main idea. This means they can now discuss it in greater detail.

What does this bill do?

The bills digest sets outs the following key points:

  • Section 501 of the Migration Act 1958 applies a ‘character test’ to all non-citizens holding or applying for an Australian visa. Under this provision, if the Minister or a delegate is not satisfied that a non-citizen passes the ‘character test’ they may—and in some specific cases must—cancel or refuse to grant a visa to the person.
  • Cancellation of a person’s visa is mandatory if they are serving a prison sentence and they have a substantial criminal record or have been convicted of sexually based offences involving a child. One of the grounds for determining that a person has a substantial criminal record for the purposes of mandatory visa cancellation is if they have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 12 months or more.
  • In Pearson v Minister for Home Affairs, the Federal Court of Australia considered whether an aggregate sentence of imprisonment (a single sentence for more than one offence) constituted ‘a term of imprisonment of 12 months or more’.
  • The Federal Court found that it did not, and the Government is now seeking to amend the Migration Act to provide that where a provision of the Migration Act or regulations made under that Act refers to a sentence of imprisonment, it does not matter whether this sentence has been imposed with respect to one offence or multiple offences.
  • The Bill will also retrospectively validate decisions affected by the Pearson decision, including validating previous mandatory cancellation decisions of a person’s visa.
  • The Human Rights Law Centre has previously stated that the inclusion of aggregated sentences for the purposes of mandatory visa cancellation cannot be ‘easily reconciled with the Labor government’s commitment to reducing immigration detention numbers’. Other human rights advocacy groups, such as the Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, have opposed the Bill.

Votes Passed by a modest majority

Nobody rebelled against their party.

Party Votes
Australian Greens (100% turnout) 0 Yes 11 No
Penny Allman-Payne Queensland No
Dorinda Cox WA No
Mehreen Faruqi NSW No
Sarah Hanson-Young SA No
Nick McKim Tasmania No
Barbara Pocock SA No
Janet Rice Victoria No
David Shoebridge NSW No
Jordon Steele-John WA No
Larissa Waters Queensland No
Peter Whish-Wilson Tasmania No
Australian Labor Party (84% turnout) 21 Yes 0 No
Tim Ayres NSW Yes
Catryna Bilyk Tasmania Yes
Carol Brown Tasmania Yes
Anthony Chisholm Queensland Yes
Raff Ciccone Victoria Yes
Patrick Dodson WA Yes
Don Farrell SA Yes
Nita Green Queensland Yes
Karen Grogan SA Yes
Jenny McAllister NSW Yes
Malarndirri McCarthy NT Yes
Deborah O'Neill NSW Yes
Fatima Payman WA Yes
Helen Polley Tasmania Yes
Louise Pratt WA Yes
Tony Sheldon NSW Yes
Marielle Smith SA Yes
Jana Stewart Victoria Yes
Anne Urquhart Tasmania Yes
Jess Walsh Victoria Yes
Murray Watt Queensland Yes
Katy Gallagher ACT Absent
Glenn Sterle WA Absent
Linda White Victoria Absent
Penny Wong SA Absent
Jacinta Nampijinpa Price NT Country Liberal Party Absent
Andrew McLachlan SA Deputy President Yes
David Pocock ACT Independent Absent
Lidia Thorpe Victoria Independent Absent
Jacqui Lambie Network (100% turnout) 2 Yes 0 No
Jacqui Lambie Tasmania Yes
Tammy Tyrrell Tasmania Yes
Liberal National Party (100% turnout) 2 Yes 0 No
Matthew Canavan Queensland Yes
James McGrath Queensland Yes
Liberal Party (39% turnout) 9 Yes 0 No
Alex Antic SA Yes
Wendy Askew Tasmania Yes
Andrew Bragg NSW Yes
Jonathon Duniam Tasmania Yes
David Fawcett SA Yes
Sarah Henderson Victoria Yes
Hollie Hughes NSW Yes
James Paterson Victoria Yes
Paul Scarr Queensland Yes
Simon Birmingham SA Absent
Slade Brockman WA Absent
Michaelia Cash WA Absent
Claire Chandler Tasmania Absent
Richard Colbeck Tasmania Absent
Jane Hume Victoria Absent
Kerrynne Liddle SA Absent
Matt O'Sullivan WA Absent
Marise Payne NSW Absent
Gerard Rennick Queensland Absent
Linda Reynolds WA Absent
Anne Ruston SA Absent
Dean Smith WA Absent
David Van Victoria Absent
National Party (75% turnout) 3 Yes 0 No
Ross Cadell NSW Yes
Perin Davey NSW Yes
Bridget McKenzie Victoria Yes
Susan McDonald Queensland Absent
Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party (0% turnout) Absent
Pauline Hanson Queensland Absent
Malcolm Roberts Queensland Absent
Sue Lines WA President Absent
Ralph Babet Victoria United Australia Party Yes
Totals (67% turnout) 39 Yes – 11 No