How Penny Wright 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 Penny Wright Supporters vote Division outcome

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

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

Yes 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.

No 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.

Yes No (strong) Not passed by a modest majority

How "voted very 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 0 0 0
Less important votes (10 points)      
MP voted with policy 0 0 0
MP voted against policy 6 0 60
Less important absentees (2 points)      
MP absent* 0 0 0
Total: 0 260

*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 = 0 / 260 = 0.0%.

And then