How David Feeney voted compared to someone who believes that the federal government should increase funding for university education

Division David Feeney Supporters vote Division outcome

20th Nov 2012, 4:14 PM – Senate Motions - University of Western Sydney - Retain current courses and academic staffing resources

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon, which means that it was rejected. The motion was:

That the Senate-

(a) notes that:

(i) the University of Western Sydney (UWS) has foreshadowed planned cuts to economics and community languages courses and academic staffing cuts across various schools,

(ii) UWS claims the cuts are in response to budgetary pressures due to lower than expected student enrolments following the uncapping of university places, however the university still carries a budget surplus and can expect a steady increase in enrolments over time,

(iii) in 2003 UWS allocated 62.5 per cent of student fees earned to teaching and learning, whereas in 2012 only 38.3 per cent of student fees earned went to teaching and learning, with a corresponding increase in administration expenditure,

(iv) teaching and learning is under resourced at UWS, with one of the highest staff to student ratios in Australia as well as one of the highest staff casualisation rates, and further staffing cuts will deny the students of Western Sydney a quality education, and

(v) UWS plans to close its student learning service that targets academic skills support to socially disadvantaged students and students who are the first in their family to attend university, which applies to a large number of students from Western Sydney; and

(b) calls on the Government to:

(i) urge UWS management to retain its current courses and academic staffing resources, and

(ii) 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.

No Yes Not passed by a modest majority

28th Feb 2012, 3:45 PM – Senate Motions - Higher Education - Increase base funding

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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.

No Yes Not passed by a modest majority

23rd Nov 2011 – Senate Motions - Education Funding - Increase public higher education funding

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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.

absent Yes Not passed by a modest majority

How "voted moderately for" is worked out

The MP's votes count towards a weighted average where the most important votes get 50 points, less important votes get 10 points, and less important votes for which the MP was absent get 2 points. In important votes the MP gets awarded the full 50 points for voting the same as the policy, 0 points for voting against the policy, and 25 points for not voting. In less important votes, the MP gets 10 points for voting with the policy, 0 points for voting against, and 1 (out of 2) if absent.

Then, the number gets converted to a simple english language phrase based on the range of values it's within.

No of votes Points Out of
Most important votes (50 points)      
MP voted with policy 1 50 50
MP voted against policy 0 0 0
MP absent 0 0 0
Less important votes (10 points)      
MP voted with policy 2 20 20
MP voted against policy 2 0 20
Less important absentees (2 points)      
MP absent* 1 1 2
Total: 71 92

*Pressure of other work means MPs or Senators are not always available to vote – it does not always indicate they have abstained. Therefore, being absent on a less important vote makes a disproportionatly small difference.

Agreement score = MP's points / total points = 71 / 92 = 77%.

And then