The Coalition was split on this vote, with South Australian Senator Alex Antic (Liberal) and Queensland Senators Gerard Renick (Liberal) and Matthew Canavan (Liberal National Party) voting "Yes" against the rest of the Liberal and National parties, who voted "No".
What were the amendments?
Senator Roberts explained that:
In proposing this bill, the government says the bill aims to secure jobs. My amendments on sheet 1768 go to the heart of ensuring job security and protecting workers' rights. To ensure job security, my amendments on sheet 1768 ensure that unjustified vaccine discrimination is stamped out in employment.
The original bill inserts breastfeeding, intersex status and gender identity as attributes that the Fair Work Act protects from discrimination. These amendments copy that approach and simply add COVID-19 vaccination as an attribute protected from discrimination. The protection is still subject to the limits imposed on the other discrimination grounds in the Fair Work Act. An employer, for example, will not be in breach of the antidiscrimination grounds where the employer can prove, as they should have to, that it is a genuine and reasonable requirement of the position. These amendments are reasonable. In their approach, they are not radical because they use and simply extend the existing mechanisms in the Fair Work Act.
(1) Schedule 1, item 426, page 116 (before line 10), before the definition of gender identity, insert:
COVID-19 vaccination status means the status of a person relating to whether, and to what extent, the person has been vaccinated against the coronavirus known as COVID-19 (including any subsequent variants of that virus).
(2) Schedule 1, item 427, page 116 (line 17), after "intersex status,", insert "COVID-19 vaccination status,".
(3) Schedule 1, item 429, page 117 (line 3), after "intersex status,", insert "COVID-19 vaccination status,".
(4) Schedule 1, item 432, page 118 (line 3), after "intersex status,", insert "COVID-19 vaccination status,".
(5) Schedule 1, page 118 (after line 3), after item 432, insert:
432A Paragraph 351(2)(a)
Before "not unlawful", insert "for action taken other than because of a person's COVID-19 vaccination status—".
(6) Schedule 1, item 433, page 118 (line 6), after "intersex status,", insert "COVID-19 vaccination status,".
(7) Schedule 1, item 436, page 118 (line 23), after "intersex status,", insert "COVID-19 vaccination status,".
(8) Schedule 1, item 437, page 119 (line 23), omit "or intersex status,", substitute ", intersex status or COVID-19 vaccination status".
Date and time: 5:37 PM on 2022-12-01
Senator Pocock's vote: No
Total number of "aye" votes: 6
Total number of "no" votes: 40
Total number of abstentions: 30
Related bill: Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Bill 2022
Adapted from information made available by theyvoteforyou.org.au