The Aye voters failed to pass a motion to amend the Paid Parental Leave Bill 2010 and the Fair Work Act 2009 to introduce an entitlement to paid parental leave.

This means that the majority of senators rejected the amendments.

The amendments were introduced by Greens Party Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, who argued that these amendments were necessary to ensure that the Labor Government’s paid parental leave scheme is more than “simply an entitlement to a payment”. According the Senator, this is a concern “because the entitlements for the payment are different to the existing entitlements for leave in the Fair Work Act”. As the eligibility for the paid parental leave scheme is more generous than the eligibility for the existing unpaid leave provisions contained in the Fair Work Act 2009, it is possible that some women will be covered by the former and not the latter and therefore would not have the protections offered by the Fair Work Act, such as the return to work guarantee.

Senator Chris Evans, speaking for the Labor Government, did not support the amendments. He relied on the Productivity Commission’s recommendation that the eligibility under the paid parental leave scheme should be more generous than eligibility for unpaid leave under the Fair Work Act 2009. He also made the point that the proposed amendments do not in fact "propose to provide all people eligible for paid parental leave with an unpaid leave entitlement and a return to work guarantee, only those with three months continuous service". He commented that this was really "just drawing the line in a different spot". Finally, he considered it inappropriate to expand the employment standards in the Fair Work Act at this time as they had only been in operation for five and a half months (they started on 1 January 2010).

The Coalition’s election victory in 2013 may see changes to paid parental leave. A copy of their proposed paid parental leave scheme can be found here [1.7MB].

Votes Not passed by a large majority

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 (65% turnout) 0 Yes 20 No
Catryna Bilyk Tasmania No
Carol Brown Tasmania No
Doug Cameron NSW No
Jacinta Collins Victoria No
Trish Crossin NT No
Don Farrell SA No
David Feeney Victoria No
Michael Forshaw NSW No
Mark Furner Queensland No
Steve Hutchins NSW No
Joe Ludwig Queensland No
Kate Lundy ACT No
Gavin Marshall Victoria No
Anne McEwen SA No
Jan McLucas Queensland No
Claire Moore Queensland No
Helen Polley Tasmania No
Louise Pratt WA No
Glenn Sterle WA No
Dana Wortley SA No
Mark Arbib NSW Absent
Mark Bishop WA Absent
Kim Carr Victoria Absent
Stephen Conroy Victoria Absent
Chris Evans WA Absent
John Faulkner NSW Absent
Annette Hurley SA Absent
Kerry O'Brien Tasmania Absent
Nick Sherry Tasmania Absent
Ursula Stephens NSW 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 (53% turnout) 0 Yes 16 No
Eric Abetz Tasmania No
Judith Adams WA No
Christopher Back WA No
Sue Boyce Queensland No
David Bushby Tasmania No
Michaelia Cash WA No
Richard Colbeck Tasmania No
Helen Coonan NSW No
Alan Eggleston WA No
Mitch Fifield Victoria No
Mary Fisher SA No
Gary Humphries ACT No
Nick Minchin SA No
Stephen Parry Tasmania No
Judith Troeth Victoria No
Russell Trood Queensland No
Guy Barnett Tasmania Absent
Cory Bernardi SA Absent
Simon Birmingham SA Absent
George Brandis Queensland Absent
Mathias Cormann WA Absent
Concetta Fierravanti-Wells NSW Absent
Bill Heffernan NSW Absent
David Johnston WA Absent
Helen Kroger Victoria Absent
Ian Macdonald Queensland Absent
Brett Mason Queensland Absent
Marise Payne NSW Absent
Michael Ronaldson Victoria Absent
Scott Ryan Victoria Absent
National Party (40% turnout) 0 Yes 2 No
Fiona Nash NSW No
John Williams NSW No
Ron Boswell Queensland Absent
Barnaby Joyce Queensland Absent
Julian McGauran Victoria Absent
John Hogg Queensland President Absent
Totals (61% turnout) 5 Yes – 41 No