Summary

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The majority voted against an amendment introduced by Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young (SA), which means it was unsuccessful.

What did the amendment do?

This amendment relates to Clause 42 of the Australian Border Force Bill 2015, which makes it an offence for an "entrusted person" (which includes Immigration and Border Protection workers) to make a record of confidential information or to disclose confidential information.

Senator Hanson-Young explained her amendment:

The amendment I have circulated deals very specifically with that. It is very simple. It is not saying that everyone can go and blow their whistles as much as they want; it is saying that if there is any type of offence then it needs to be tested against the public interest. That is a decision that the courts should make. It is not a decision for the minister. ... This amendment is important to ensure that there is an independent arbiter, and it must be the courts that stand up for the right of the public service and the right of the Australian people to know what is in the public interest and what information their government is trying to hide from them.

Background to the amendment

Senator Hanson-Young's amendment reflects previous recommendations made by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) in 2010 in respect to a similar provision int he Crimes Act that applies generally to Commonwealth public servants. Just like Senator Hanson-Young's amendment, the ALRC had recommended that criminal sanctions in law should only apply where disclosure of information would or would likely harm an identifiable public interest. However, those recommendations have yet to be acted on.

Amendment text

(1) Clause 42, page 35 (after line 13), after paragraph (1)(b), insert:

(ba) the making of the record, or the disclosure, causes, is likely to cause, or is intended to cause, harm to a public interest.

How to find out more about the bills

Go to the bills digest to learn more about what the bills do and what issues they raise.

Votes Not passed by a modest majority

Nobody rebelled against their party.

Party Votes
Australian Greens (90% turnout) 9 Yes 0 No
Richard Di Natale Victoria Yes
Sarah Hanson-Young SA Yes
Scott Ludlam WA Yes
Lee Rhiannon NSW Yes
Janet Rice Victoria Yes
Rachel Siewert WA Yes
Larissa Waters Queensland Yes
Peter Whish-Wilson Tasmania Yes
Penny Wright SA Yes
Christine Milne Tasmania Absent
Australian Labor Party (83% turnout) 0 Yes 20 No
Catryna Bilyk Tasmania No
Joe Bullock WA No
Kim Carr Victoria No
Jacinta Collins Victoria No
Sam Dastyari NSW No
Alex Gallacher SA No
Katy Gallagher ACT No
Chris Ketter Queensland No
Sue Lines WA No
Joe Ludwig Queensland No
Jenny McAllister NSW No
Anne McEwen SA No
Jan McLucas Queensland No
Claire Moore Queensland No
Deborah O'Neill NSW No
Nova Peris NT No
Helen Polley Tasmania No
Lisa Singh Tasmania No
Glenn Sterle WA No
Anne Urquhart Tasmania No
Carol Brown Tasmania Absent
Doug Cameron NSW Absent
Stephen Conroy Victoria Absent
Penny Wong SA Absent
Ricky Muir Victoria Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party Absent
Nigel Scullion NT Country Liberal Party Absent
Gavin Marshall Victoria Deputy President Absent
Bob Day SA Family First Party Absent
Nick Xenophon SA Independent Yes
Jacqui Lambie Tasmania Independent Absent
Glenn Lazarus Queensland Independent Absent
John Madigan Victoria Independent Absent
David Leyonhjelm NSW Liberal Democratic Party Yes
Liberal National Party (100% turnout) 0 Yes 2 No
Matthew Canavan Queensland No
James McGrath Queensland No
Liberal Party (75% turnout) 0 Yes 18 No
Christopher Back WA No
Cory Bernardi SA No
Simon Birmingham SA No
George Brandis Queensland No
David Bushby Tasmania No
Michaelia Cash WA No
Richard Colbeck Tasmania No
Mathias Cormann WA No
Sean Edwards SA No
David Fawcett SA No
Mitch Fifield Victoria No
David Johnston WA No
Marise Payne NSW No
Michael Ronaldson Victoria No
Anne Ruston SA No
Scott Ryan Victoria No
Arthur Sinodinos NSW No
Dean Smith WA No
Eric Abetz Tasmania Absent
Concetta Fierravanti-Wells NSW Absent
Bill Heffernan NSW Absent
Ian Macdonald Queensland Absent
Linda Reynolds WA Absent
Zed Seselja ACT Absent
National Party (100% turnout) 0 Yes 4 No
Bridget McKenzie Victoria No
Fiona Nash NSW No
Barry O'Sullivan Queensland No
John Williams NSW No
Dio Wang WA Palmer United Party Absent
Stephen Parry Tasmania President No
Totals (75% turnout) 11 Yes – 45 No