How Bill Heffernan voted compared to someone who believes that the federal government should address the causes and consequences of climate change as a matter of urgency by, for example, lowering emissions and investing in science and technology

Division Bill Heffernan Supporters vote Division outcome

19th Apr 2016, 7:39 PM – Senate Motions - Climate Change - End fossil fuel political donations

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The majority voted against a motion, which was introduced by Greens Senator Larissa Waters. The motion called on all political parties to ban and refuse to accept fossil fuel donations.

Motion text

That the Senate—

(a) notes:

(i) the unprecedented coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef which the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority describes as the worst ever mass bleaching event,

(ii) the devastating bushfires affecting areas of Tasmania's Wilderness World Heritage Area which have not been burned in centuries and which may never recover,

(iii) the fact that 2014 and 2015 were both the hottest year on record, and that the United Kingdom Meteorological Office predicts that 2016 will also be the hottest year on record,

(iv) that ordinary Australians are leading the way in calling for action on global warming, in particular, the students at the University of Queensland who have occupied the Chancellery Building calling on the University to divest from fossil fuels, and

(v) that fossil fuel companies have made $3.7 million in political donations to the Coalition and the Australian Labor Party since the 2013 election; and

(b) calls on all political parties to:

(i) support a legislative ban on fossil fuel donations, and

(ii) refuse to accept any more fossil fuel donations.

No Yes (strong) Not passed by a modest majority

3rd Dec 2014, 4:00 PM – Senate Motions - Environment - Set national targets for emissions reductions

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The majority voted against a motion on setting a national target for the reduction of carbon emissions, which was introduced by Greens Senator Christine Milne.

Wording of motion

That the Senate—

(a) notes that Australia must declare, to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, our Intended Nationally Determined Contributions by March 2015;

(b) acknowledges the comprehensive targets and progress review of the Climate Change Authority which recommends Australia commit to a 30 to 40 per cent reduction below 2000 level emissions by 2025 and a 40 to 60 per cent reduction by 2030; and

(c) urges the Australian Government to not obstruct constructive progress in the Lima Conference of the Parties and set national targets consistent with the Climate Change Authority's recommended range.

absent Yes (strong) Not passed by a modest majority

28th Oct 2014, 4:07 PM – Senate Motions - Mining - Acknowledge massive economic benefits

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The majority supported acknowledging "the massive economic benefits" of the black coal mining industry.

Wording of the motion

National Party Senator Barry O'Sullivan wanted the Senate to acknowledge:

the massive economic benefits delivered to this nation by the black coal industry and the importance it has for the employment fortunes of miners and other professionals in this nation, noting that Australia should maintain a diverse and sensible energy mix.

Background to the motion

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his Government has been criticised for being too in favour of coal mining at the expense of addressing climate change (for example, see ABC News).

absent No Passed by a modest majority

22nd Sep 2014, 5:14 PM – Senate Matters of Urgency - Climate Change - Climate Change Summit and emissions reduction target

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The majority voted against a motion moved by Greens Senator Christine Milne, which was:

That, in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency:

"The need for the Prime minister to attend the United Nations Climate Summit 2014,(Read more about the UN Climate Summit 2014 on its website here. ) and to recognise that Australia's emissions reduction target is inadequate."

This means that the majority disagree with this motion and that it was rejected.

Background to the motion

The 2014 Climate Change Summit was announced by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2013 and takes place on 23 September 2014 in New York. It is a meeting on climate change with a focus on initiatives and actions. Secretary-General Ban invited leaders of governments, the private sector and civil society with the aim of these leaders using the Summit as a public platform.(Read more about the Summit on its website here.)

No Yes (strong) Not passed by a small majority

15th Jul 2014, 9:31 PM – Senate Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2014 and related bills - Second Reading - Protect from climate change

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This division relates to the Policy For a carbon price.

The majority voted against an amendment moved by Greens Senator Christine Milne, which would have amended the original motion "That these bills be now read a second time" with the following:

At the end of the motion, add:

but the Senate

(a) condemns this Bill and the related Bills;

(b) recognises that:

(i) the world is on track for 4 degrees of warming; and

(ii) warming of less than 1 degree is already intensifying extreme weather events in Australia and around the world with enormous costs to life and property;

(c) calls on the government to:

(i) protect the Australian people and environment from climate change by approving no new coal mines or extensions of existing mines, or new coal export terminals; and

(ii) adopt a trajectory of 40-60% below 2000 levels by 2030 and net carbon zero by 2050 emissions reduction target in global negotiations for a 2015 treaty.

Because the majority voted against this amendment, it was rejected.

Background to the bills

The Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2014 and related bills were introduced to remove the carbon pricing mechanism, which was introduced by the Australian Labor Party while in government. The Coalition described the mechanism as a “carbon tax” and removing it was a key policy platform during the 2013 election.(You can read more about the Coalition's policy to remove the carbon price here. )

The carbon pricing mechanism commenced on 1 July 2012.(For more information on the carbon pricing mechanism and how it works, please see the Clean Energy Regulator’s website. ) It is an emissions trading scheme that puts a price on carbon emissions. It applies to “liable entities” (a group that includes companies that emit a high level of greenhouse gases). Initially the price of carbon is fixed by the mechanism but from 1 July 2015 the price will be set by the market, though the Labor Government did announce plans to bring this forward to 1 July 2014 just before they were defeated by the Coalition in the 2013 election.

This is the third time that this package of bills have been introduced. The first time, they were rejected in the Senate during the third reading stage.(See that division here. ) The second time, they were rejected in the Senate during the committee stage.(See that division here. Read more about this second rejection of this package of bills on ABC News here or on the World Today here.)

The bills included in this package are the following:

absent Yes (strong) Not passed by a large majority

17th Mar 2014, 1:46 PM – Senate Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013 and related bills - Second Reading - Protect Australia from climate change

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Greens Senator Richard Di Natale.

The motion was for an amendment to be added to the end of the original motion, which was "That these bills be now read a second time."

The words were:

but the Senate:

(a) rejects this bill and the related bills;

(b) recognises that:

(i) the world is on track for 4 degrees of warming; and

(ii) warming of less than 1 degree is already intensifying extreme weather events in Australia and around the world with enormous costs to life and property;

(c) calls on the government to:

(i) protect the Australian people and environment from climate change by approving no new coal mines or extensions of existing mines, or new coal export terminals; and

(ii) adopt a trajectory of 40-60% below 2000 levels by 2030 and net carbon zero by 2050 emissions reduction target in global negotiations for a 2015 treaty.

Background to the bills

The Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013 and related bills were introduced as a package to remove the carbon pricing mechanism, which was introduced by the Australian Labor Party while in government. The Coalition described the mechanism as a “carbon tax” and removing it was a key policy platform during the 2013 election.(You can read more about the Coalition's policy to remove the carbon price here. )

The carbon pricing mechanism commenced on 1 July 2012.(For more information on the carbon pricing mechanism and how it works, please see the Clean Energy Regulator’s website.) It is an emissions trading scheme that puts a price on carbon emissions. It applies to “liable entities” (a group that includes companies that emit a high level of greenhouse gases). Initially the price of carbon is fixed by the mechanism but from 1 July 2015 the price will be set by the market, though the Labor Government did announce plans to bring this forward to 1 July 2014 just before they were defeated by the Coalition in the 2013 election.

The ten other related bills are:

absent Yes (strong) Not passed by a large majority

27th Feb 2013, 4:15 PM – Senate Motions - Climate Change and National Security - Address in Defence White Paper

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Greens Senator for Tasmania Christine Milne, which means it failed.

Motion text

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) on 25 February 2013, 38 retired generals and admirals from the United States of America (US), and prominent national security experts, presented a letter calling on US policymakers to recognise the security effects of climate change and the undeniable consequences and costs of inaction in addressing climate change for vulnerable nations,

(ii) the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in 2007 called on the 2009 Defence White Paper to examine the full implication of climate change for the Australian Defence Force, and

(iii) the brief acknowledgement in the 2009 Defence White Paper that climate change has the potential to be a destabilising global force erroneously concludes that the strategic consequences of climate change will not be felt before 2030; and

(b) calls on the Government to:

(i) recognise the undeniable security implications of climate change, the costs and consequences of inaction, and

(ii) ensure that the Defence White Paper, due to be released in May 2013, addresses the fact that climate change is shaping the contemporary security climate, is a driver of conflict and should guide procurement and deployment in Australia's national security.

absent Yes Not passed by a modest majority

13th Nov 2008, 9:41 AM – Senate Motions - White Paper on Global Population - Develop

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Greens Senator for Tasmania Bob Brown, which means the motion failed.

Motion text

That the Senate calls on the Government to develop a white paper on population during this period of government which takes into account:

(a) projections of a global population of between 9 to 10 billion people by 2050;

(b) the inability of the Earth to provide for 9 to 10 billion people if average resource consumption is to be at current levels in Australia;

(c) climate change;

(d) Australia’s inability to host exponential population growth; and

(e) the wellbeing of future generations and life on Earth.

absent Yes Not passed by a large majority

24th Jun 2008, 3:48 PM – Senate Motions - Climate Change - Act on conference conclusions

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The majority voted against a motion, so it was unsuccessful. It was introduced by Australian Democrats Senator Lyn Allison (Vic).

Motion text

That the Senate—

(a) notes that on 11 June and 12 June 2008 citizens and scientists came together in Canberra for the 2008 Manning Clark House Conference ‘Imagining the Real Life on a Greenhouse Earth’ [PDF, 1.2MB], in honour of former federal Minister, the Honourable Dr Barry Jones, AO, and concluded that:

(i) global warming is accelerating,

(ii) the Arctic summer sea ice is expected to melt entirely within the next 5 years, decades earlier than predicted in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2007),

(iii) scientists judge the risks to humanity of dangerous global warming to be high,

(iv) the loss of the Great Barrier Reef now seems likely,

(v) extreme weather events, such as storm surges adding to rising sea levels and threatening coastal cities, will become more frequent,

(vi) there is a real danger that we have reached or will soon reach critical tipping points and the future will be taken out of our hands – the melting Arctic sea ice could be the first such tipping point,

(vii) beyond 2ºC of warming seems inevitable, unless greenhouse gas reduction targets are tightened, and we risk huge human and societal costs, and perhaps even the effective end of industrial civilisation,

(viii) we need to cease our assault on our own life support system and that of millions of species, and that global warming is only one of many symptoms of that assault,

(ix) peak oil, global warming and long-term sustainability pressures all require that we reduce energy needs and switch to renewable energy sources and many credible studies show that Australia can quickly and cost-effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions through dramatic improvements in energy efficiency and by increasing Australia’s investment in solar, wind and other renewable sources,

(x) the need for action is extremely urgent and the window of opportunity for avoiding severe impacts is rapidly closing, yet the obstacles to change are not technical or economic, they are political and social, and

(xi) democratic societies have responded successfully to dire and immediate threats, as was demonstrated in World War II and this is a last call for an effective response to global warming;

(b) thanks the delegates of this conference, including Professor Barry Brook, Sir Hubert Wilkins, Dr Geoff Davies, Dr Andrew Glikson and Mr Sebastian Clark for their efforts in drawing this warning to the Senate’s attention; and

(c) urges the Government to act on these conclusions.

absent Yes Not passed by a large majority

How "voted moderately against" 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 2 0 100
MP absent 3 75 150
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* 4 4 8
Total: 79 258

*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 = 79 / 258 = 31%.

And then