How Stephen Conroy 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 Stephen Conroy 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.

absent 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:

Yes 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:

absent 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:

absent 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.

Yes 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.

No 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.

No 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

absent 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.

absent 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.

absent 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.

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.)

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.)

absent 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.)

absent 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.)

absent 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.)

absent 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 moderately 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 2 100 100
MP voted against policy 0 0 0
MP absent 2 50 100
Less important votes (10 points)      
MP voted with policy 2 20 20
MP voted against policy 1 0 10
Less important absentees (2 points)      
MP absent* 10 10 20
Total: 180 250

*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 = 180 / 250 = 72%.

And then