How David Leyonhjelm voted compared to someone who believes that the federal government should introduce legislation to increase the powers of intelligence and law enforcement agencies to intercept and retain communications related to persons of interest. These agencies include the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) and the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

Division David Leyonhjelm Supporters vote Division outcome

6th Dec 2018, 7:22 PM – Senate Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018 - Third Reading - Pass the bill

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The majority voted in favour of a motion "[t]hat the remaining stages of this bill be agreed to and this bill be now passed." Since the bill has already passed in the House of Representatives, it can now become law.

What is the bill's main idea?

According to the bills digest:

The Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018 will amend a number of Acts—primarily the Telecommunications Act 1997, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 and the Surveillance Devices Act 2004 (SD Act)—to facilitate access to certain communications and data for the purposes of disrupting and investigating criminal activity and threats to national security, including organised crime and terrorism.

The Government is responding to the impediment that the increasing prevalence of encrypted data and communications represents to available investigative and interception capabilities.

absent Yes (strong) Passed by a modest majority

6th Dec 2018, 7:09 PM – Senate Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018 - Second Reading - Agree with bill's main idea

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The majority voted to agree with the main idea of the bill, which means the can now discuss it in more detail. In parliamentary jargon, they voted to read the bill for a second time.

What is the bill's main idea?

According to the bills digest:

The Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018 will amend a number of Acts—primarily the Telecommunications Act 1997, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 and the Surveillance Devices Act 2004 (SD Act)—to facilitate access to certain communications and data for the purposes of disrupting and investigating criminal activity and threats to national security, including organised crime and terrorism.

The Government is responding to the impediment that the increasing prevalence of encrypted data and communications represents to available investigative and interception capabilities.

No Yes (strong) Passed by a modest majority

20th Sep 2018, 12:27 PM – Senate Motions - Right to Privacy - Protect

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Greens Senator Jordan Steele-John (WA), which means it failed.

Motion text

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) in 2013, the UN General Assembly affirmed that the rights held by people offline must also be protected online, and it called upon all states to respect and protect the right to privacy in digital communication,

(ii) on 13 September 2018, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that the methods for bulk interception of online communications used by the United Kingdom's (UK) Government Communications Headquarters violated privacy and failed to provide sufficient surveillance safeguards,

(iii) the ECHR ruled that safeguards must indicate "the nature of offences which may give rise to an interception order; a definition of the categories of people liable to have their communications intercepted; a limit on the duration of interception; the procedure to be followed for examining, using and storing the data obtained; the precautions to be taken when communicating the data to other parties; and the circumstances in which intercepted data may or must be erased or destroyed",

(iv) the legal challenge was brought by Big Brother Watch and Others following revelations by National Security Agency whistleblower, Mr Edward Snowden, in 2013 that intelligence services were covertly intercepting, processing, and storing communications data in bulk, and

(v) Australian mass surveillance laws, including the proposed Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018, are based on the UK Investigatory Powers Act 2016, also known as the Snoopers' Charter; and

(b) calls on the Federal Government to:

(i) consider Australia's obligations under the UN Declaration of Human Rights and international laws, including the European General Data Protection Regulation, and

(ii) review Australian privacy and surveillance laws, to ensure Australians' human rights are upheld, including their right to privacy, and that sufficient safeguards are enshrined in legislation.

absent No Not passed by a modest majority

8th Nov 2016, 7:24 PM – Senate Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2016 - Second Reading - Agree to the bill's main idea

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The majority voted to support the main idea of the bill's main idea. In parliamentary jargon, they voted against giving the bill a second reading.

This means that the Senate can now discuss the bill in more detail.

What is the bill's main idea?

According to the bills digest, the bill:

is the latest in a series of reforms to national security and counter-terrorism laws since mid-2014. The Government states the Bill would address issues that have come to light through recent counter-terrorism investigations and operational activity.

A key part of the bill relates to control orders. For example, the bill would lower the minimum age that a control order can be imposed from 16 to 14 years of age. It would also introduce new ‘monitoring powers’ to:

allow police to use entry, search and seizure, telecommunications interception and surveillance device powers in relation to a person subject to a control order to monitor their compliance with the order and prevent terrorist related conduct

A concerning part of the bill relates to procedural fairness and will:

allow courts to consider information that is not disclosed to the person subject to a control order or their representative for security reasons, in control order proceedings ... and introduce a system of special advocates to represent the interests of those people in proceedings from which they and their legal representatives have been excluded ...

No Yes (strong) Passed by a modest majority

16th Jun 2015, 4:18 PM – Senate Motions — Unlawful Bulk Data Collection — Recognise Edward Snowden's work

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The majority of senators voted against the following motion by Greens Senator Scott Ludlam:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

  • (i) the United States (US) Court of Appeals ruled in May 2015 That the bulk collection of telecommunications metadata by US Government agencies was unlawful, and

  • (ii) this case was filed following revelations by Mr Edward Snowden disclosing the scope of US Government surveillance programs; and

(b) recognises:

  • (i) the critical work that Mr Snowden has carried out in exposing unlawful surveillance programs in the US and its 'Five Eyes' allies, and

  • (ii) that Australians and the global community have legitimate and ongoing concerns about the erosion of privacy caused by the unchecked growth of government electronic surveillance programs.

Yes No Not passed by a modest majority

26th Mar 2015 – Senate Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2015 - Third Reading - Pass the bill

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The majority of Senators agreed to pass this bill which requires telecommunications service providers to retain for two years telecommunications metadata on all of their subscribers.

More information is available in the following news articles:

No Yes (strong) Passed by a modest majority

29th Oct 2014 – Senate Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Bill 2014 - Third Reading - Pass the bill

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The majority supported passing the bill in the Senate (in parliamentary jargon, they voted to give the bill a third reading). The bill will now go to the House of Representatives to see if the members of parliament (MPs) agree with the senators and also want to pass the bill. If they do, the bill will become law.

The purpose of the bill is to address the threat posed by Australians fighting in foreign conflicts and then returning home.

Human rights issues

The bill makes many important changes, which the bills digest discusses in some detail. The media has focused on how the bill will "make it easier for the Government to cancel passports and allow authorities to declare some conflicts as "no go" zones for Australian travellers" (see ABC News). These changes limit certain rights and freedoms (see ABC News).

The Government's Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights agreed that the bill will limit a broad range of human rights and freedoms but says that these limits are reasonable, necessary and proportionate.

Background to the bill

A number of incidents happened before and after this bill's introduction. There was one of the biggest counter-terrorism operations in Australian history. The Prime Minister Tony Abbott also confirmed that Australia would be sending the military to Iraq to fight the Islamic State (IS) (also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)).

Two particularly significant incidents were when:

No Yes Passed by a modest majority

28th Oct 2014, 7:59 PM – Senate Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Bill 2014 — Second Reading - Agree with the bill's main idea

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The majority agreed with the bill's main idea (in parliamentary jargon, they voted in favour of giving the bill a second reading). This means that the senators can now discuss the bill in more detail.

The bill's main idea is to address the threat posed by Australians fighting in foreign conflicts and then returning home.

Human rights issues

The bill makes many important changes, which the bills digest discusses in some detail. The media has focused on how the bill will "make it easier for the Government to cancel passports and allow authorities to declare some conflicts as "no go" zones for Australian travellers" (see ABC News). These changes limit certain rights and freedoms (see ABC News).

The Government's Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights agreed that the bill will limit a broad range of human rights and freedoms but says that these limits are reasonable, necessary and proportionate.

Background to the bill

A number of incidents happened before and after this bill's introduction. There was one of the biggest counter-terrorism operations in Australian history. The Prime Minister Tony Abbott also confirmed that Australia would be sending the military to Iraq to fight the Islamic State (IS) (also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)).

Two particularly significant incidents were when:

No Yes Passed by a modest majority

25th Sep 2014, 9:31 PM – Senate National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014 - Third Reading - Pass the bill

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The majority supported passing the bill in the Senate (in parliamentary jargon, they voted to give the bill a third reading). The bill will now go to the House of Representatives to see if the members of parliament (MPs) agree with the senators and also want to pass the bill. If they do, the bill will become law.

Human rights issues

The bill makes many important changes, which the bills digest discusses in some detail. In particular, it extends the powers of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS)

The bill also creates new offences that apply to any person who discloses information that relates to a special intelligence operation (SIO), with a maximum penalty of ten years in jail. Two concerns with these offences are that:

  • they don't have exceptions for public interest disclosures or whistleblowing by ASIO employees, and
  • they apply to any person, including journalists.

Background to the bill

After the major counter-terrorism raids in Sydney and Brisbane, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that the balance between freedom and security had to shift (see ABC News). This bill is part of that change.

The bill also seems to be a response to American Edward Snowden leaking classified American intelligence information last year.

Read the bills digest for more information about the bill.

No Yes (strong) Passed by a modest majority

25th Sep 2014, 1:53 PM – Senate National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014 - In Committee - Limit number of devices ASIO can access

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The majority disagreed that there should be a limit on the number of devices through which the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) can undertake activities under a warrant.

Liberal Senator Ian Macdonald had suggested this amendment but actually voted against it in the end. This is because he "was not absolutely convinced of the amendment that I was moving" and was later convinced by the minister to vote against it (see Senator Macdonald's full explanation).

Background to the bill

After the major counter-terrorism raids in Sydney and Brisbane, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that the balance between freedom and security had to shift (see ABC News). This bill is part of that change.

The bill also seems to be a response to American Edward Snowden leaking classified American intelligence information last year.

Read the bills digest for more information about the bill.

Yes No Not passed by a modest majority

25th Sep 2014 – Senate National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014 - in Committee - Limit access to computers to extent necessary

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The majority opposed putting a limit on the extent that computers can be the subject of a warrant by Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), which was proposed by Liberal Democratic Senator David Leyonhjelm (read his full explanation of his amendment).

Background to the bill

After the major counter-terrorism raids in Sydney and Brisbane, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that the balance between freedom and security had to shift (see ABC News). This bill is part of that change.

The bill also seems to be a response to American Edward Snowden leaking classified American intelligence information last year.

Read the bills digest for more information about the bill.

Yes No Not passed by a modest majority

How "voted strongly against" is worked out

The MP's votes count towards a weighted average where the most important votes get 50 points, less important votes get 10 points, and less important votes for which the MP was absent get 2 points. In important votes the MP gets awarded the full 50 points for voting the same as the policy, 0 points for voting against the policy, and 25 points for not voting. In less important votes, the MP gets 10 points for voting with the policy, 0 points for voting against, and 1 (out of 2) if absent.

Then, the number gets converted to a simple english language phrase based on the range of values it's within.

No of votes Points Out of
Most important votes (50 points)      
MP voted with policy 0 0 0
MP voted against policy 4 0 200
MP absent 1 25 50
Less important votes (10 points)      
MP voted with policy 0 0 0
MP voted against policy 5 0 50
Less important absentees (2 points)      
MP absent* 1 1 2
Total: 26 302

*Pressure of other work means MPs or Senators are not always available to vote – it does not always indicate they have abstained. Therefore, being absent on a less important vote makes a disproportionatly small difference.

Agreement score = MP's points / total points = 26 / 302 = 8.6%.

And then