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ABSTAINED – Committees — Select Committee on Australia's Excess Mortality; Appointment

Ralph Babet

I move:

(1) That a select committee, to be known as the Select Committee on Australia's Excess Mortality, be established to inquire into and report on:

(a) current Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data showing excess deaths in 2021 and 2022, with particular reference to:

(i) all-cause provisional mortality data reported by the states and territories to the ABS, and

(ii) the difference between all-cause provisional mortality data for 2021 and 2022 with the preceding years of 2015 to 2020 (inclusive); and

(b) the socioeconomic determinants on health that might have contributed to these excess deaths, such as mental health, cost of living, or other such factors,

(c) any other identified factors contributing to excess mortality,

(d) the process of death certificate issuance in each state and territory; and

(e) any other related matter.

(2) That the committee present its final report by the last day of sitting in March 2024.

(3) That the committee consist of six senators, as follows:

(a) two senators nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate;

(b) two senators nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate;

(c) one senator nominated by the United Australia Party; and

(d) one senator nominated by other minority party or independent senators.

(4) That:

(a) participating members may be appointed to the committee on the nomination of the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate or any minority party or independent senator,

(b) participating members may participate in hearings of evidence and deliberations of the committee, and have all the rights of members of the committee, but may not vote on any questions before the committee; and

(c) a participating member shall be taken to be a member of a committee for the purpose of forming a quorum of the committee if a majority of members of the committee is not present.

(5) That the committee may proceed to the dispatch of business notwithstanding that not all members have been duly nominated and appointed and notwithstanding any vacancy.

(6) That the committee elect as chair the member nominated by the United Australia Party and, as deputy chair, a member nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

(7) That the deputy chair shall act as chair when the chair is absent from a meeting of the committee or the position of chair is temporarily vacant.

(8) That the chair, or the deputy chair when acting as chair, may appoint another member of the committee to act as chair during the temporary absence of both the chair and deputy chair at a meeting of the committee.

(9) That, in the event of an equally divided vote, the chair, or the deputy chair when acting as chair, have a casting vote.

(10) That the committee have power to appoint subcommittees consisting of three or more of its members, and to refer to any such subcommittee any of the matters which the committee is empowered to consider.

(11) That the committee and any subcommittee have power to send for and examine persons and documents, to move from place to place, to sit in public or in private, notwithstanding any prorogation of the Parliament or dissolution of the House of Representatives, and have leave to report from time to time its proceedings and the evidence taken and such interim recommendations as it may deem fit.

(12) That the committee be provided with all necessary staff, facilities and resources and be empowered to appoint persons with specialist knowledge for the purposes of the committee with the approval of the President.

(13) That the committee be empowered to print from day to day such papers and evidence as may be ordered by it, and a daily Hansard be published of such proceedings as take place in public.

Malcolm Roberts

tor ROBERTS () (): I seek leave to make a short statement.

Sue Lines

Leave is granted for one minute.

Malcolm Roberts

We have witnessed in this country an increased death rate due to COVID vaccines. The evidence is quite clear that the excess death rate is around 17 per cent—unexplained! No-one in the health sector will explain it. No-one in the health bureaucracy will explain it. It is uncaring to let this go. It is a cover-up. There's been gross mismanagement with COVID. It has never been about health; it has been about using deceit to ensure wealth transfer and control over people. The government has been belted by the crossbench this morning for the lack of transparency and the lack of integrity. Show some guts. Show some integrity. Show some transparency. Support Senator Babet's motion. One Nation will be supporting Senator Babet's motion.

Jonathon Duniam

I seek leave to make a short statement.

Sue Lines

Leave is granted for one minute.

Jonathon Duniam

The coalition thinks this is a very important issue. Given the number of select committees being operated by the Senate at the moment—I'm being advised that there are five—our preference would be to see this issue interrogated through the Community Affairs References Committee and have an inquiry into these very terms of reference there. As such, we won't be supporting the motion before the chamber. As stated, it's an important issue that requires a bit of sunlight, to coin a phrase from Senator McKim. Let's have a look and interrogate the matter there.

Anthony Chisholm

I seek leave to make a short statement.

Sue Lines

Leave is granted for one minute.

Anthony Chisholm

The government opposes this motion. We oppose it on the basis that there are already mechanisms that exist to undertake the analysis that the motion contemplates. Trusted organisations including the ABS, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the Department of Health and Aged Care work together to ensure that we have a robust system of reporting mortality and morbidity at the national level. This work, of course, is informed by the work undertaken by state and territory health departments in their disease surveillance and health-reporting frameworks.

Our existing framework of disease surveillance and reporting has been built up over decades and continues to provide the data required by public health experts to undertake the detailed epidemiological research into issues such as social determinants of health that is contemplated in this motion.

Sue Lines

The question is that general business notice of motion No. 194, standing in the name of Senator Babet, be agreed to.


Date and time: 11:29 AM on 2023-03-23
Senator Pocock's vote: Abstained
Total number of "aye" votes: 4
Total number of "no" votes: 35
Total number of abstentions: 37

Adapted from information made available by