The majority voted against a motion "...that subclause 69(1), subclause 70(2) and the note, part 3-2, clauses 85 and 86, clauses 93 and 94 and part 3-5 [of the Paid Parental Leave Bill 2010] stand as printed"

In other words, the senators were voting on whether they supported those clauses and parts.

Someone who voted Aye supported the clauses and parts. Since there were an equal number of Aye and No voters, the Chairman found that “the clauses and parts lack majority support”.(The Chairman's ruling can be found here. ) This means that an amendment to oppose these clauses and parts will be attached to the bill when it is returned to the House of Representatives for their consideration. The House will then decide whether it agrees with the amendment or not.

In this case, the House rejected the amendment to oppose the clauses and parts and so they remained as they were. The bill was ultimately passed because the opposition did not insist on the amendment.(Read Senator Fifield's statement here. )

Debate in Parliament

The motion on whether to support the particular clauses and parts was put after Liberal Party Senator Mitchell Fifield moved that they should be opposed.(See that motion here. ) The clauses and parts transferred the responsibility for making payments under the paid parental leave scheme to the employer rather than the department secretary. When opposing this, Senator Fifield said that the administrative burden of the scheme should be on the government rather than on employers.

Labor Senator Mark Arbib disagreed with the amendments. He said that the paid parental leave scheme is based on a design recommended by the Productivity Commission and argued that paid parental leave should be treated as any other work entitlement and therefore “paid in accordance with an employer’s normal pay practices and the employees’ usual pay cycle”.(Read Senator Arbib's whole argument here. )

Background to the bills

The Paid Parental Leave Bill 2010 and the Paid Parental Leave (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2010 were introduced by the Labor Government to establish a Government-funded Paid Parental Leave (PPL) scheme from 1 January 2011.(Read more about the Government's paid parental leave scheme in the bill's digest (522 KB) and the Department of Human Services website.)


Votes Not passed

Nobody rebelled against their party.

Party Votes
Australian Greens (100% turnout) 5 Yes 0 No
Bob Brown Tasmania Yes
Sarah Hanson-Young SA Yes
Scott Ludlam WA Yes
Christine Milne Tasmania Yes
Rachel Siewert WA Yes
Australian Labor Party (81% turnout) 25 Yes 0 No
Mark Arbib NSW Yes
Catryna Bilyk Tasmania Yes
Mark Bishop WA Yes
Carol Brown Tasmania Yes
Doug Cameron NSW Yes
Jacinta Collins Victoria Yes
Stephen Conroy Victoria Yes
Trish Crossin NT Yes
Don Farrell SA Yes
David Feeney Victoria Yes
Michael Forshaw NSW Yes
Mark Furner Queensland Yes
Annette Hurley SA Yes
Steve Hutchins NSW Yes
Joe Ludwig Queensland Yes
Kate Lundy ACT Yes
Gavin Marshall Victoria Yes
Jan McLucas Queensland Yes
Claire Moore Queensland Yes
Kerry O'Brien Tasmania Yes
Louise Pratt WA Yes
Nick Sherry Tasmania Yes
Ursula Stephens NSW Yes
Glenn Sterle WA Yes
Dana Wortley SA Yes
Kim Carr Victoria Absent
Chris Evans WA Absent
John Faulkner NSW Absent
Anne McEwen SA Absent
Helen Polley Tasmania Absent
Penny Wong SA Absent
Nigel Scullion NT Country Liberal Party No
Alan Ferguson SA Deputy President No
Steve Fielding Victoria Family First Party No
Nick Xenophon SA Independent Absent
Liberal Party (77% turnout) 0 Yes 23 No
Eric Abetz Tasmania No
Judith Adams WA No
Christopher Back WA No
Guy Barnett Tasmania No
Cory Bernardi SA No
Simon Birmingham SA No
Sue Boyce Queensland No
George Brandis Queensland No
Michaelia Cash WA No
Richard Colbeck Tasmania No
Helen Coonan NSW No
Mathias Cormann WA No
Mitch Fifield Victoria No
Mary Fisher SA No
Bill Heffernan NSW No
Gary Humphries ACT No
David Johnston WA No
Helen Kroger Victoria No
Ian Macdonald Queensland No
Brett Mason Queensland No
Nick Minchin SA No
Stephen Parry Tasmania No
Russell Trood Queensland No
David Bushby Tasmania Absent
Alan Eggleston WA Absent
Concetta Fierravanti-Wells NSW Absent
Marise Payne NSW Absent
Michael Ronaldson Victoria Absent
Scott Ryan Victoria Absent
Judith Troeth Victoria Absent
National Party (100% turnout) 0 Yes 5 No
Ron Boswell Queensland No
Barnaby Joyce Queensland No
Julian McGauran Victoria No
Fiona Nash NSW No
John Williams NSW No
John Hogg Queensland President Yes
Totals (82% turnout) 31 Yes – 31 No