Introduction

Many people use They Vote For You to research their area of special interest and to understand what Parliament is doing. We want to make it possible for everyone to share the workload of decoding political jargon and summarising what a vote is about.

Editing division summaries

When the system uploads a new division, it puts text taken from the parliamentary debate into the division summary. This text isn’t very helpful and needs to be replaced by an actual summary explaining what the vote is about.

They Vote For You lets anyone write a plain English summary of a division so that everyone can understand what Parliament is voting on. We provide useful links for you to research next to each division and a guide for division summaries below to help you begin writing. Feedback on ways to improve this guide is appreciated.

Divisions can be marked as relevant to a pre-existing policy (see Policies) or one that you develop yourself.

Guide for division summaries

Title

Division titles are currently made up of three parts that are separated by a dash.

For divisions on bills, these three parts are:

  1. name of the bill
  2. stage of the debate
  3. subject matter of the motion being voted on

Example: Minerals Resource Rent Tax Repeal and Other Measures Bill 2014 - Third Reading - Read a third time

For divisions on all other motions (eg Document motions), the three parts are:

  1. type of motion
  2. subject matter that the motion is related to
  3. subject matter of the motion being voted on

Example: Matters of Urgency - Same-Sex Relationships - Recognise same sex marriage

Summary

Division summaries should answer the following questions:

  • How did the majority vote?
    • eg “The majority voted in favour of a motion to read the bill for a third time.
  • What does the vote actually mean?
    • eg “This means that the bill is passed in the Senate and that it will now be sent to the House of Representatives for their consideration.
  • Who introduced the motion and why? (optional)

You should also summarise the context and purpose of the bill or motion under the subheading ‘Background to bill’ or ‘Background to motion’. You can find this information by following the links available on the division’s page (under ‘External links’). Bills digests are particularly useful when available.

Remember to:

  • Avoid parliamentary jargon. Phrases like "stand as printed" and "third reading" should not be used unless explained.
  • Include hyperlinks. Give references for any statements included in the summary and to any relevant documents or articles.
  • Use impartial language. Keep your language as unbiased as possible.
  • Keep it brief. Brevity is the boss of the internet.

They Vote For You's Style Guide will help you write your summaries with tips on plain English writing and writing for the web.