The majority voted in favour of a motion to agree with the bill's main idea. In parliamentary jargon, they voted to read the bill for a second time. This means that the senators can now discuss the bill in greater detail.
What is the bill's main idea?
This bill was introduced to extend the operation of certain special powers relating to suspected terrorism offences to 7 September 2020. Currently, those powers are due to sunset (that is, stop being part of our law) on 7 September 2019.
What are the special powers?
The special powers extended by this bill are the power to issue questioning warrants (QWs) and questioning and detention warrants (QDWs) in relation to suspected terrorism offences. They are extraordinary because they can be issued in relation to someone even though they are not suspected of, or charged with, any offence. In other words, these warrants are an intelligence-gathering and preventative power. Someone might be subject to these warrants because they can provide information about a potential terrorism offence and they may be detained in order to prevent them from damaging evidence or alerting someone involved in a terrorism offence that their actions are being investigated.
These powers have been extended several times since they were first introduced in 2002. More information is available in the bills digest.