Summary

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Labor Senator Claire Moore had wanted to end debate on the bill's main idea (in parliamentary jargon, she wanted to put the question). But because an equal number of senators had agreed and disagreed with her, the debate will continue because a majority wasn't reached.

Main idea of the bill

The main idea of the bill is to introduce broad ranging changes to the higher education sector, including the three changes mentioned below.

1. Deregulating university fees

One of the most controversial aspects of the bill is that it will remove any restrictions on the amount that universities can charge students for tuition in Commonwealth Supported Places (CSPs). It is not known how much tuition fees would rise if this bill is passed and becomes law (read more in the bills digest).

2. Indexing HECS-HELP debt by ten year bond rate

The bill will also introduce new indexation arrangements for Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) debts (also known as HECS-HELP debts). Currently, these debts are indexed by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The bill proposes to index them by the generally higher ten year bond rate, with a cap at 6%.

3. Charging fees for postgraduate research degrees

Currently, postgraduate students in research degrees don't have to pay any tuition costs. The bill will allow universities to charge these students fees of up to $3,900 per unit for high-cost courses and $1,700 for low-cost courses.

Background to the bill

As part of its 2014-15 Budget, Prime Minister Tony Abbott's Government has announced a series of changes to government funding arrangements and this bill is part of those changes (read more in the bills digest).

Votes Not passed

Nobody rebelled against their party.

Party Votes
Australian Greens (90% turnout) 9 Yes 0 No
Sarah Hanson-Young SA Yes
Scott Ludlam WA Yes
Christine Milne Tasmania Yes
Lee Rhiannon NSW Yes
Janet Rice Victoria Yes
Rachel Siewert WA Yes
Larissa Waters Queensland Yes
Peter Whish-Wilson Tasmania Yes
Penny Wright SA Yes
Richard Di Natale Victoria Absent
Australian Labor Party (79% turnout) 19 Yes 0 No
Joe Bullock WA Yes
Doug Cameron NSW Yes
Kim Carr Victoria Yes
Jacinta Collins Victoria Yes
Sam Dastyari NSW Yes
Alex Gallacher SA Yes
Chris Ketter Queensland Yes
Sue Lines WA Yes
Joe Ludwig Queensland Yes
Kate Lundy ACT Yes
Anne McEwen SA Yes
Jan McLucas Queensland Yes
Claire Moore Queensland Yes
Deborah O'Neill NSW Yes
Nova Peris NT Yes
Helen Polley Tasmania Yes
Lisa Singh Tasmania Yes
Anne Urquhart Tasmania Yes
Penny Wong SA Yes
Catryna Bilyk Tasmania Absent
Carol Brown Tasmania Absent
Stephen Conroy Victoria Absent
John Faulkner NSW Absent
Glenn Sterle WA Absent
Ricky Muir Victoria Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party No
Nigel Scullion NT Country Liberal Party Absent
Gavin Marshall Victoria Deputy President Yes
Bob Day SA Family First Party No
Jacqui Lambie Tasmania Independent Yes
John Madigan Victoria Independent No
Nick Xenophon SA Independent No
David Leyonhjelm NSW Liberal Democratic Party No
Liberal National Party (100% turnout) 0 Yes 2 No
Matthew Canavan Queensland No
James McGrath Queensland No
Liberal Party (80% turnout) 0 Yes 20 No
Christopher Back WA No
Cory Bernardi SA No
Simon Birmingham SA No
David Bushby Tasmania No
Michaelia Cash WA No
Richard Colbeck Tasmania No
Sean Edwards SA No
David Fawcett SA No
Concetta Fierravanti-Wells NSW No
Mitch Fifield Victoria No
Bill Heffernan NSW No
Ian Macdonald Queensland No
Marise Payne NSW No
Linda Reynolds WA No
Michael Ronaldson Victoria No
Anne Ruston SA No
Scott Ryan Victoria No
Zed Seselja ACT No
Arthur Sinodinos NSW No
Dean Smith WA No
Eric Abetz Tasmania Absent
George Brandis Queensland Absent
Mathias Cormann WA Absent
David Johnston WA Absent
Brett Mason Queensland Absent
National Party (100% turnout) 0 Yes 4 No
Bridget McKenzie Victoria No
Fiona Nash NSW No
Barry O'Sullivan Queensland No
John Williams NSW No
Palmer United Party (100% turnout) 2 Yes 0 No
Glenn Lazarus Queensland Yes
Dio Wang WA Yes
Stephen Parry Tasmania President No
Totals (84% turnout) 32 Yes – 32 No