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 quality of our higher education contributes to Australia’s social well-being and builds the skills and knowledge vital to our economic development and our place within the competitive global economy,

(ii)   demand for higher education graduates is expected to be stronger than overall employment growth over the next decade,

(iii)   Australian universities are being asked to significantly expand at a time when their income is increasingly uncertain, and when their dependence on international student fees to subsidise teaching and research is severely compromised with diminishing overseas student enrolments,

(iv)   decades of decline in public university funding has driven up student to staff ratios, increased staff workloads and dated infrastructure,

(v)   in Australia average base funding per student declined in real terms from 1994 to 2003, and had only increased in 2010 to the same level as in 1994, whilst the real value of the Commonwealth contribution per student remains well below the 1994 level,

(vi)   in 2008 Australia’s expenditure on tertiary education was 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), which equalled the Slovak Republic, fell well short of the Organisation for Economic Co operation and Development (OECD) 1 per cent average, and was lower than 25 out of 30 countries which spent more than Australia,

(vii)   the 2011 Lomax-Smith Higher education base funding review [2.4 MB] stated it believed ‘an increased level of investment per student would be required to improve the quality of higher education teaching’ and to ‘maximise the sector’s potential to contribute to national productivity and economic growth’, and

(viii)   the 2008 Bradley Review of Australian higher education recommended that the Australian Government increase the base funding for teaching and learning in higher education by 10 per cent; and

(b)   calls on the Government to:

(i)   immediately increase base funding for public universities by a minimum of 10 per cent in the 2012-13 federal budget,

(ii)   position Australia ahead of the OECD average for public investment in higher education by steadily increasing investment from the current 0.7 per cent of GDP to beyond the OECD average of 1 per cent of GDP, to take Australia’s ranking from the bottom to the top of the OECD countries, and

(iii)   not increase student contributions in proportion to any increases in government base funding.

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 Arbib NSW 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
Mark Furner Queensland No
Alex Gallacher SA No
Kate Lundy ACT No
Gavin Marshall Victoria No
Anne McEwen SA No
Jan McLucas Queensland No
Claire Moore Queensland No
Louise Pratt WA No
Ursula Stephens NSW No
Glenn Sterle WA No
Matt Thistlethwaite NSW No
Anne Urquhart Tasmania No
Mark Bishop WA Absent
Kim Carr Victoria Absent
Stephen Conroy Victoria Absent
Chris Evans WA Absent
John Faulkner NSW Absent
Joe Ludwig Queensland Absent
Helen Polley Tasmania 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 No
Nick Xenophon SA Independent Yes
Liberal Party (30% turnout) 0 Yes 8 No
Christopher Back WA No
David Bushby Tasmania No
Richard Colbeck Tasmania No
Sean Edwards SA No
Alan Eggleston WA No
Mitch Fifield Victoria No
Mary Fisher SA No
Helen Kroger Victoria No
Eric Abetz Tasmania Absent
Judith Adams WA Absent
Cory Bernardi SA Absent
Simon Birmingham SA Absent
Sue Boyce Queensland Absent
George Brandis Queensland Absent
Michaelia Cash WA Absent
Mathias Cormann WA Absent
David Fawcett SA Absent
Concetta Fierravanti-Wells NSW Absent
Bill Heffernan NSW Absent
Gary Humphries ACT Absent
David Johnston WA Absent
Ian Macdonald Queensland Absent
Brett Mason Queensland Absent
Marise Payne NSW Absent
Michael Ronaldson Victoria Absent
Scott Ryan Victoria Absent
Arthur Sinodinos NSW Absent
National Party (40% turnout) 0 Yes 2 No
Barnaby Joyce Queensland No
Bridget McKenzie Victoria No
Ron Boswell Queensland Absent
Fiona Nash NSW Absent
John Williams NSW Absent
John Hogg Queensland President Absent
Totals (55% turnout) 10 Yes – 32 No