The majority voted against a motion introduced by Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon. This means that it was unsuccessful.

The motion was:

That the Senate-

(a) notes that:

(i) the University of Sydney in the week beginning 20 November 2011 announced 340 planned job cuts to academic and general staff, due to a forecasted budget shortfall, placing further pressure on staff to meet the increased teaching demands that will arise from uncapped student places next year,

(ii) other universities have recently announced similar job cuts due to budget pressures, including La Trobe University's plans to shed up to 230 academic and general staff in 2012, 50 jobs at Macquarie University and mooted cuts to the University of New South Wales and the University of Melbourne Arts faculties,

(iii) while Australia's total expenditure on tertiary education is in line with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average of 1.6 per cent of national gross domestic product (GDP), Australia's public funding levels of 0.7 per cent of GDP are one of the lowest of any OECD country, falling well short of the OECD average of 1 per cent,

(iv) Australia is the only OECD country to go backwards in terms of public expenditure on tertiary education institutions in real terms since 1995, leaving Australia lagging behind the United States of America, Finland and Canada, as well as being overtaken by Denmark, Korea and Sweden during this period,

(v) chronically low public funding of universities has resulted in an unhealthy reliance on international student fees, creating budget uncertainty which has placed increased pressure on academic staff and students, with higher student to staff ratios and fewer resources, reducing the overall quality of teaching and learning at universities, and

(vi) the Review of Australian Higher Education (the Bradley review) recommended a 10 per cent increase in university student base funding, and Australia still awaits the release of the Lomax-Smith review of base funding [2.4 MB]; and

(b) calls on the Government to:

(i) immediately increase public funding by 10 per cent per government supported university student, as recommended by the Bradley review, to give budget certainty to universities, and

(ii) set a longer term target to invest 1 per cent of GDP to fund universities, to bring Australia in line with the OECD average, to ensure that Australia maintains a quality tertiary education sector and remains internationally competitive.

Votes Not passed by a modest majority

Nobody rebelled against their party.

Party Votes
Australian Greens (100% turnout) 9 Yes 0 No
Bob Brown Tasmania Yes
Richard Di Natale Victoria Yes
Sarah Hanson-Young SA Yes
Scott Ludlam WA Yes
Christine Milne Tasmania Yes
Lee Rhiannon NSW Yes
Rachel Siewert WA Yes
Larissa Waters Queensland Yes
Penny Wright SA Yes
Australian Labor Party (67% turnout) 0 Yes 20 No
Mark Bishop WA No
Carol Brown Tasmania No
Doug Cameron NSW No
Kim Carr Victoria No
Jacinta Collins Victoria No
Trish Crossin NT No
Don Farrell SA No
John Faulkner NSW No
Mark Furner Queensland No
Alex Gallacher SA No
Joe Ludwig Queensland No
Kate Lundy ACT No
Gavin Marshall Victoria No
Jan McLucas Queensland No
Claire Moore Queensland No
Helen Polley Tasmania No
Ursula Stephens NSW No
Glenn Sterle WA No
Matt Thistlethwaite NSW No
Anne Urquhart Tasmania No
Mark Arbib NSW Absent
Catryna Bilyk Tasmania Absent
Stephen Conroy Victoria Absent
Chris Evans WA Absent
David Feeney Victoria Absent
Anne McEwen SA Absent
Louise Pratt WA Absent
Nick Sherry Tasmania Absent
Lisa Singh Tasmania Absent
Penny Wong SA Absent
Nigel Scullion NT Country Liberal Party Absent
John Madigan Victoria Democratic Labor Party No
Stephen Parry Tasmania Deputy President Absent
Nick Xenophon SA Independent Yes
Liberal Party (48% turnout) 0 Yes 13 No
Judith Adams WA No
Christopher Back WA No
David Bushby Tasmania No
Michaelia Cash WA No
Richard Colbeck Tasmania No
Sean Edwards SA No
Alan Eggleston WA No
Mitch Fifield Victoria No
Mary Fisher SA No
Bill Heffernan NSW No
David Johnston WA No
Brett Mason Queensland No
Stephen Parry Tasmania No
Eric Abetz Tasmania Absent
Cory Bernardi SA Absent
Simon Birmingham SA Absent
Sue Boyce Queensland Absent
George Brandis Queensland Absent
Mathias Cormann WA Absent
David Fawcett SA Absent
Concetta Fierravanti-Wells NSW Absent
Gary Humphries ACT Absent
Helen Kroger Victoria Absent
Ian Macdonald Queensland Absent
Marise Payne NSW Absent
Michael Ronaldson Victoria Absent
Scott Ryan Victoria Absent
Arthur Sinodinos NSW Absent
National Party (60% turnout) 0 Yes 3 No
Ron Boswell Queensland No
Bridget McKenzie Victoria No
John Williams NSW No
Barnaby Joyce Queensland Absent
Fiona Nash NSW Absent
John Hogg Queensland President Absent
Totals (62% turnout) 10 Yes – 37 No