The majority voted in favour of a motion to read the bills for a third time.(Read more about the stages that bills must pass through to become law here. ) This means that the bills have passed in the Senate.
The bills will now return to the House of Representatives so that they can consider the amendments agreed to in the Senate. If they agree, the bills can become law.
Although the bills had broad support from both sides of the Senate, there were two senators that voted against their respective parties. Liberal Senator Ross Lightfoot rebelled against the Liberal Party and voted 'no' against the bills while Nationals Senator Julian McGauran rebelled against the National Party and voted 'aye' in favour of the bills.(Read more about what it means to rebel in our FAQ Section. )
Background to the bills
Australia's wheat export market currently operates under a ' single desk' policy. This means that bulk wheat exports are directed through a single exporter of bulk wheat under the Australian Wheat Board International Limited (AWB International). The Export Wheat Commission manages the export of non-bulk wheat (that is, bagged or container wheat).
The bills establish a wheat export accreditation scheme, which will be regulated through a new statutory body called the Wheat Exports Australia.(Read more about the bills in their bills digests. The digest for the Wheat Export Marketing Bill 2008 is available here (198 KB). The digest for the Wheat Export Marketing (Repeal and Consequential Amendments) Bill 2008 is available here (53.1 KB).) This introduces competition into the bulk wheat export market. As explained by the explanatory memorandum, "[r]ather than forcing growers to sell their wheat through a single exporter they will be able to choose from a number of accredited exporters as well as domestic outlets."