How Kerry O'Brien 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 Kerry O'Brien 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.

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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

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.)

absent No Not passed by a large majority

30th Mar 2006, 1:37 PM – Senate Telecommunications (Interception) Amendment Bill 2006 — In Committee - Schedule 3 (equipment based interception)

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The majority voted in favour of a motion that schedule 3 stand as printed. This means that the majority agree with the schedule and want it to remain unchanged. This motion was put in response to an Australian Democrats amendment to oppose the amended schedule, which was introduced by Senator Natasha Stott Despoja.

Schedule 3 relates to equipment based interception. Its purpose is "to enable interception agencies to intercept communications to and from identified devices such as mobile handsets and computer terminals".(Read more about B-party interceptions in the bills digest. ) For example, this schedule would allow an authority to intercept all communications made through a particular mobile handset rather than having to speak permission to intercept communications through each new SIM card used in that mobile handset.

When explaining her opposition to this schedule, Senator Stott Despoja quoted a submission from Electronic Frontiers Australia, which said: "This proposal appears to have an inappropriately and unjustifiably high potential to result in interception of communications of persons who are not suspects (i.e. are not named in the warrant) because, among other things, the types of device numbers proposed to be used do not necessarily uniquely identify a particular device."(Read Senator Stott Despoja whole contribution here. )

Background to the bill

The bill was introduced to implement some of the recommendations of the Review of the Regulation of Access to Communications (known as the Blunn Report) in order to, among other things, create a warrant regime to allow access to stored communications held by a telecommunications carrier and enable the interception of communications of a person known to communicate with the person of interest.(Read more about the bill in its bills digest.)

Yes Yes Passed by a large majority

30th Mar 2006, 1:15 PM – Senate Telecommunications (Interception) Amendment Bill 2006 — In Committee — Schedule 2 (B—party interceptions)

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The majority voted in favour of a motion that schedule 2, as amended, be agreed to. This means that the majority agree with the newly amended schedule 2 and that it will remain in place. This motion was put in response to a Greens amendment to oppose the amended schedule.

Schedule 2 relates to B-party interceptions, which are interceptions of communications made by a third party, that is, by a person who is not suspected of involvement in a prescribed crime but whose communications may be relevant to an investigation. That B-party may only be a conduit for the relevant communication and may not be aware of the use being made of them by the person of interest.(Read more about B-party interceptions in the bills digest. )

Background to the bill

The bill was introduced to implement some of the recommendations of the Review of the Regulation of Access to Communications (known as the Blunn Report) in order to, among other things, create a warrant regime to allow access to stored communications held by a telecommunications carrier and enable the interception of communications of a person known to communicate with the person of interest.(Read more about the bill in its bills digest.)

No Yes Passed by a small majority

30th Mar 2006, 12:21 PM – Senate Telecommunications (Interception) Amendment Bill 2006 — In Committee — Schedule 2 (B—party interceptions)

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The majority voted in favour of a motion "that schedule 2 stand as printed", which means that it will remain unchanged. The question was put in response to an opposition motion to oppose that schedule.

Schedule 2 relates to B-party interceptions, which are interceptions of communications made by a third party, that is, by a person who is not suspected of involvement in a prescribed crime but whose communications may be relevant to an investigation. That B-party may only be a conduit for the relevant communication and may not be aware of the use being made of them by the person of interest.(Read more about B-party interceptions in the bills digest. )

Background to the bill

The bill was introduced to implement some of the recommendations of the Review of the Regulation of Access to Communications (known as the Blunn Report) in order to, among other things, create a warrant regime to allow access to stored communications held by a telecommunications carrier and enable the interception of communications of a person known to communicate with the person of interest.(Read more about the bill in its bills digest.)

No No Passed by a small majority

30th Mar 2006, 12:18 PM – Senate Telecommunications (Interception) Amendment Bill 2006 — In Committee — B—party interceptions

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The majority voted against amendments introduced by Labor Senator Joe Ludwig, which means that they were rejected. The amendments related to B-party interceptions so that they "have protections consistent with the Blunn review-that is, that they go to ensuring that they only be utilised in limited and controlled circumstances".(Read Senator Ludwig's full explanation of his amendments and the associated debate here, after 11:48 am. )

B-party interceptions are interceptions of communications made by a third party, that is, by a person who is not suspected of involvement in a prescribed crime but whose communications may be relevant to an investigation. That B-party may only be a conduit for the relevant communication and may not be aware of the use being made of them by the person of interest.(Read more about B-party interceptions in the bills digest. )

Background to the bill

The bill was introduced to implement some of the recommendations of the Review of the Regulation of Access to Communications (known as the Blunn Report) in order to, among other things, create a warrant regime to allow access to stored communications held by a telecommunications carrier and enable the interception of communications of a person known to communicate with the person of interest.(Read more about the bill in its bills digest.)

Yes No Not passed by a small majority

28th Mar 2006, 10:47 PM – Senate Telecommunications (Interception) Amendment Bill 2006 — In Committee - Sunset clause and review

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The majority voted against amendments introduced by Labor Senator Joe Ludwig, which means that it was rejected. The amendments related to the inclusion of a sunset clause and a provision for an independent review to take place "within 12 months of the third anniversary of the commencement" of this bill.(Read Senator Ludwig's full explanation of his amendments and the associated debate here, after 10:27 pm. )

Background to the bill

The bill was introduced to implement some of the recommendations of the Review of the Regulation of Access to Communications (known as the Blunn Report) in order to, among other things, create a warrant regime to allow access to stored communications held by a telecommunications carrier and enable the interception of communications of a person known to communicate with the person of interest.(Read more about the bill in its bills digest.)

Yes No Not passed by a small majority

How "voted a mixture of for and 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 0 0 0
MP absent 0 0 0
Less important votes (10 points)      
MP voted with policy 3 30 30
MP voted against policy 3 0 30
Less important absentees (2 points)      
MP absent* 1 1 2
Total: 31 62

*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 = 31 / 62 = 50%.

And then