How Peter Costello voted compared to someone who believes that university students should be able to choose whether or not to pay student services and amenities fees (also called student union fees)

Division Peter Costello Supporters vote Division outcome

19th Mar 2009, 1:16 PM – Representatives Higher Education Legislation Amendment (Student Services and Amenities, and Other Measures) Bill 2009 - Second Reading - Read a second time

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The majority voted in favour of a motion to read the bill a second time.

This means that the majority of members agree with the main idea of the bill.

Someone who voted Aye supported the main idea of the bill, which was to allow universities to impose an annual capped compulsory student services and amenities fee. Since the majority voted Aye, the bill can now be discussed in greater detail.

However, in this case, the members agreed to give the bill a third reading immediately after this division.(That division is available here. ) This means that the bill was passed in the House of Representatives and would now be sent to the Senate for their consideration.

Debate in Parliament

The bill was introduced by Labor Party MP Kate Ellis, the Minister for Youth and Minister for Sport. She said that the bill delivers “the government’s election commitment to rebuild important university student services and to also ensure that students have representation on campus”.(See MP Ellis' full discussion of the bill here. )

Liberal Party MP Sophie Mirabella, the Shadow Minister for Youth, claimed that the bill’s "primary purpose is to impose a new tax on the one million students attending universities across the nation, whether the students are full time, part time, studying on campus or external".(See MP Mirabella's contribution here. )

Background to the bill

Compulsory student union fees were abolished under then Prime Minister John Howard’s Coalition Government with the Higher Education Support Amendment (Abolition of Compulsory Upfront Student Union Fees) Bill 2005. This meant that universities could no longer require students to pay a compulsory fee for facilities, amenities or services that were not of an academic nature.

This bill aims to re-introduce a compulsory student services and amenities fee.(More information about this bill and its context can be found here.)


No No (strong) Passed by a small majority

How "voted very strongly 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 0 0 0
MP voted against policy 0 0 0
Less important absentees (2 points)      
MP absent* 0 0 0
Total: 50 50

*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 = 50 / 50 = 100%.

And then