How Don Farrell 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 Don Farrell Supporters vote Division outcome

27th Feb 2013, 4:11 PM – Senate Motions - National Security Inquiry - Abandon plan to retain data for up to two years

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, which means that it was rejected. The motion was:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) less than half of one per cent of Australian organisations and individuals making submissions to the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence and Security inquiry into potential reforms of National Security Legislation support the proposal for tailored data retention periods for up to 2 years,(Read the report from that inquiry here.)

(ii) of the total 5 554 submissions made to the inquiry, 25 were explicitly supportive of data retention, 32 submissions were listed as confidential and 34 do not address the issue, leaving 5 463 submissions or 98.9 per cent of submitters from a broad spectrum of Australian society explicitly indicating their opposition to the retention of data for up to 2 years, and

(iii) respondents objected That the proposal to retain data on all Australians for up to 2 years was vaguely and briefly presented, threatens privacy and freedom of expression and posed security risks through potential misuse of preserved data; and

(b) calls on the Government to:

(i) abandon the proposal to retain data on all Australians for up to 2 years due to the public consultation revealing a wide diversity of opposition from across the political spectrum, from industry, lawyers, non-government organisations, information technology experts and the media, and

(ii) propose national security measures that are appropriate, proportionate and strengthen rather than erode human rights standards that are the cornerstone of Australian democracy.

References

No No Not passed by a modest majority

22nd Aug 2012, 12:34 PM – Senate Cybercrime Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 - Third Reading - Pass the bill

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The majority agreed to pass the bill, with amendments. In parliamentary jargon, they agreed to give the bill a third reading.

The bill will now go back to the House of Representatives, where the Members of Parliament (MPs) will consider the amendments and decide whether they agree. If they do, the bill will be passed and become law.

What does this bill do?

The bill makes Australian legislation compliant with the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime requirements so that Australia can ratify the Convention, which promotes international cooperation and a coordinated approach to cybercrime.

The bills digest maps out the main issues related to the bill. For example, there are concerns that the bill doesn't explicitly recognise the dual criminality principle:

Under this principle it is argued that powers must not be granted in respect of behaviour that would not be a crime if performed in Australia. Australian citizens must be protected against abuse of their communications, their data and their freedoms in relation to conduct that is lawful within Australia.

Read more about this issue and others in the bills digest.

These issues are also discussed on ABC News as well as on Lateline.

Yes Yes (strong) Passed by a modest majority

22nd Aug 2012, 11:53 AM – Senate Cybercrime Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 - In Committee - Agree to amendments introducing limitations on access and disclosure

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The majority disagreed that Australian Greens amendments (1) to (10) on sheet 7232 be agreed to. This means these amendments will not be part of the bill (which was later passed into law).

The amendments sought to limit the powers granted by this bill to investigations of serious crime, i.e. "in relation to an offence that is punishable by imprisonment for at least 3 years".

The bill:

Facilitates Australia’s accession to the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime by amending the: Telecommunications Act 1997 and Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 to require carriers and carriage service providers to preserve stored communications when requested by certain domestic agencies or when requested by the Australian Federal Police on behalf of certain foreign countries; Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act 1987 and Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 to: ensure that a foreign country can secure access to stored computer data, including preserved data; and allow a stored communication warrant to be obtained for foreign law enforcement purposes; Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act 1987, Telecommunications Act 1997 and Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 to: enable existing telecommunications data to be provided to a foreign law enforcement agency on a police to police basis; and enable the collection of prospective telecommunications data for foreign law enforcement purposes in certain circumstances; Telecommunications Act 1997 to provide that carriers and carriage service providers can recover costs incurred when assisting foreign law enforcement agencies; Criminal Code Act 1995 to provide that computer offences are consistent with the convention; and Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 to: create confidentiality requirements in relation to authorisations to disclose telecommunications data; and expand offence provisions.

No No (strong) Not passed by a modest majority

2nd Mar 2011, 12:30 PM – Senate Telecommunications Interception and Intelligence Services Legislation Amendment Bill 2010 — In Committee - ASIO's annual report (access to information)

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The majority voted against an amendment introduced by Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, which means that it was rejected.

This amendment would have required certain additional information to be reported in the annual report of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation ('ASIO'). This information would have included:

  • the total number of requests made during the year for co-operation and assistance;
  • the name of each body which made a request; and
  • a summary of the purpose or purposes for which each request was made.(Read the exact wording of Senator Ludlam's amendment here.

)

Background to the bill

The bill was introduced "to facilitate increased cooperation, assistance and information sharing in areas of key national security by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) and the Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation (DIGO)".(Read more about the purpose of the bill in its bills digest.)

According to the explanatory memorandum, this bill addresses the concerns highlighted in the inaugural National Security Statement in 2008. That statement identified the need for national security agencies to form a closer relationship through information sharing in order to address contemporary security issues. This need was further highlighted by the failed terrorist attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on 25 December 2009.

No No Not passed by a large majority

How "voted very strongly for" 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 5 250 250
MP voted against policy 0 0 0
MP absent 0 0 0
Less important votes (10 points)      
MP voted with policy 3 30 30
MP voted against policy 0 0 0
Less important absentees (2 points)      
MP absent* 1 1 2
Total: 281 282

*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 = 281 / 282 = 100%.

And then