How Mary Fisher 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 Mary Fisher Supporters vote Division outcome

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.

absent No Not passed by a large majority

20th Sep 2007, 7:53 PM – Senate Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment Bill 2007 — In Committee — Require judicial warrants

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The majority disagreed that law enforcement agencies should have to get a judicial warrant before accessing telecommunications data about a communication (rather than its actual content). This data includes data on who is sending and receiving a particular communication, the date and time it was sent and how long a communication lasted.

This requirement for a warrant was proposed by Senator Natasha Stott Despoja (see her explanation of this amendment).

Background to the bill

The bill introduces a second group of recommendations made by the Review of the Regulation of Access to Communications (known as the Blunn Report). In particular, the bill transfers key security and law enforcement provisions from the Telecommunications Act 1997 to the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979.

These provisions relate to access to telecommunications data, which is information about a communication rather than its content and includes data on the sending and receiving parties, and the date, time and duration of the communication. The bill also proposes a new two-tier access regime for access to historic and ‘prospective’ telecommunications data (read more about the bill in its bills digest.)

No No Not passed by a large majority

How "voted 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 0 0 0
MP voted against policy 0 0 0
MP absent 0 0 0
Less important votes (10 points)      
MP voted with policy 1 10 10
MP voted against policy 0 0 0
Less important absentees (2 points)      
MP absent* 1 1 2
Total: 11 12

*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 = 11 / 12 = 92%.

And then