This division relates to the Policy For constitutional recognition of local government.

The majority voted against a motion that: further consideration of the bill be made an order of the day for the first sitting day after the Government puts into place financial arrangements to provide for equal funding for both the ‘yes’ and the ‘no’ cases, to ensure that the Australian community is properly informed about the arguments for and against the proposed change to the Constitution.

This motion was introduced by Senator George Brandis and would have required the Federal Government to fund the yes and no campaigns for constitutional recognition of local government equally.

Background to the bill

This bill represents a third attempt to have local government recognised in the Australian Constitution. Previous attempts occurred in 1974 and 1988.

Recognition of local government in the Constitution would mean that the Commonwealth can directly fund local government.(For an academic discussion of what it means to recognise local government in the Constitution and the background of this latest attempt to do so, see Professor Anne Twomey's report (906 KB). ) Currently the Federal Government can only fund local governments through the states.

Because this bill requires altering the Constitution, conditions under Section 128 apply. These conditions include that the bill must pass both the House of Representatives and the Senate and then be submitted to voters in the states and territories in the form of a referendum. To be successful, there must be a double majority, which means:

  • more than half of voters in Australia must vote 'Yes'; and
  • more than half of voters in more than half the States must vote 'Yes' (in other words, a majority of voters in at least four of the six States must vote 'Yes')(Read more about what a double majority is here.)

More information about this Bill and the context surrounding it can be found here (775 KB) in its bills digest.


Votes Not passed by a small majority

Nobody rebelled against their party.

Party Votes
Australian Greens (100% turnout) 0 Yes 9 No
Richard Di Natale Victoria No
Sarah Hanson-Young SA No
Scott Ludlam WA No
Christine Milne Tasmania No
Lee Rhiannon NSW No
Rachel Siewert WA No
Larissa Waters Queensland No
Peter Whish-Wilson Tasmania No
Penny Wright SA No
Australian Labor Party (80% turnout) 0 Yes 24 No
Catryna Bilyk Tasmania 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
John Faulkner NSW No
David Feeney Victoria No
Mark Furner Queensland No
Alex Gallacher SA No
Sue Lines WA 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
Lisa Singh Tasmania No
Ursula Stephens NSW No
Glenn Sterle WA No
Lin Thorp Tasmania No
Anne Urquhart Tasmania No
Bob Carr NSW Absent
Stephen Conroy Victoria Absent
Don Farrell SA Absent
Joe Ludwig Queensland Absent
Matt Thistlethwaite NSW Absent
Penny Wong SA Absent
Nigel Scullion NT Country Liberal Party Yes
John Madigan Victoria Democratic Labor Party Yes
Stephen Parry Tasmania Deputy President Yes
Nick Xenophon SA Independent Yes
Liberal Party (85% turnout) 23 Yes 0 No
Eric Abetz Tasmania Yes
Christopher Back WA Yes
Cory Bernardi SA Yes
Simon Birmingham SA Yes
Sue Boyce Queensland Yes
David Bushby Tasmania Yes
Michaelia Cash WA Yes
Richard Colbeck Tasmania Yes
Mathias Cormann WA Yes
Sean Edwards SA Yes
Alan Eggleston WA Yes
David Fawcett SA Yes
Concetta Fierravanti-Wells NSW Yes
Mitch Fifield Victoria Yes
Gary Humphries ACT Yes
Helen Kroger Victoria Yes
Ian Macdonald Queensland Yes
Brett Mason Queensland Yes
Marise Payne NSW Yes
Anne Ruston SA Yes
Scott Ryan Victoria Yes
Arthur Sinodinos NSW Yes
Dean Smith WA Yes
George Brandis Queensland Absent
Bill Heffernan NSW Absent
David Johnston WA Absent
Michael Ronaldson Victoria Absent
National Party (80% turnout) 4 Yes 0 No
Barnaby Joyce Queensland Yes
Bridget McKenzie Victoria Yes
Fiona Nash NSW Yes
John Williams NSW Yes
Ron Boswell Queensland Absent
John Hogg Queensland President No
Totals (86% turnout) 31 Yes – 34 No