This division is a vote about a motion rather than a bill. According to the House of Representatives Practice [923kb], a motion is “any proposal made for the purpose of eliciting a decision of the House”.
The members were voting on whether:
the motion ( Mr Bandt’s ), as amended, be agreed to.
Someone who voted Aye supported the motion. Since the majority voted Aye, the motion was successful. This means that the House agreed with the motion and so it became an order of the House. An order can be described as a command of the House, though it has no legal effect outside of the House (see the House of Representatives Practice [923kb]).
Debate in Parliament
The original wording of the substantive motion introduced by Bandt MP was:
That this House:
(1) notes that there is:
(a) a growing list of countries that allow same-sex couples to marry including the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Spain, Canada and South Africa; and
(b) widespread support for equal marriage in the Australian community; and
(2) calls on all parliamentarians to gauge their constituents’ views on the issue of marriage equality.
Before introducing the motion, Bandt MP sought leave to amend it but leave was not granted. The wording Bandt MP wanted to use was the same as the wording proposed by Labor Party MP Stephen Jones in his amendment, which was:
That all the words after “That” be omitted with a view to substituting the following words: “this House calls on all parliamentarians, consistent with their duties as representatives, to gauge their constituents’ views on ways to achieve equal treatment for same sex couples including marriage”.
This is why Bandt MP joined Jones MP and the rest of the Labor Party in voting ‘Aye’ to the amendment (see the division here).
Background to the Motion
The substantive motion introduced by Bandt MP was part of the Greens Party’s campaign to change the law to recognise same-sex marriage. At the time it was introduced, the Senate was considering the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2010, which had been introduced by Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.