How Mr Tony Burke voted compared to someone who believes that the federal government needs to support research and conservation initiatives that aim to put a stop to the current trajectory of animal and plant extinctions in Australia

Division Mr Tony Burke Supporters vote Division outcome

3rd Sep 2020, 5:40 PM – Representatives Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Streamlining Environmental Approvals) Bill 2020 - Third Reading - Pass the bill

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The majority voted in favour of a motion to pass the bill in the House of Representatives. In parliamentary jargon, they voted to read the bill for a third time. This means the bill will now be sent to the Senate for their consideration.

There was some controversy in the House due to the speed with which the bill was passed.

What does this bill do?

Due to the speed with which the bill is moving through Parliament, there are no parliamentary library summaries available on what the bill does. We only have the explanatory memorandum, which is a Government-produced document and therefore politically biased. According to the memorandum:

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Streamlining Environmental Approvals) Bill 2020 (the Bill) facilitates the legally robust devolution of environmental approvals to the States and Territories.

The Act already provides for devolution of environmental assessments and approvals through bilateral agreements with the States and Territories. Bilateral agreements avoid regulatory duplication by creating a single environmental assessment and approval process for nationally protected matters. The two types of bilateral agreements provided for under the Act are:

  • Assessment bilateral agreements - a State or Territory is accredited to assess the environmental impacts of project proposals on behalf of the Commonwealth, which is then used by the Commonwealth to decide whether or not to approve a project.

  • Approval bilateral agreements - a State or Territory is accredited to assess and approve or refuse to approve project proposals.

The Bill will make technical amendments to the existing provisions of the Act relating to bilateral agreements to support the efficient, effective and enduring operation of bilateral agreements.

In other words, the main aim of the bill is to give greater environmental approval powers to the states and territories rather than the federal government. Researchers and environmental groups are concerned that this will further weaken protections.

No No 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 0 0 0
MP voted against policy 0 0 0
MP absent 0 0 0
Less important votes (10 points)      
MP voted with policy 1 10 10
MP voted against policy 0 0 0
Less important absentees (2 points)      
MP absent* 0 0 0
Total: 10 10

*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 = 10 / 10 = 100%.

And then