How Barry O'Sullivan voted compared to someone who believes that the federal government should restrict foreign ownership within Australia, particularly where foreign ownership would be against the national interest

Division Barry O'Sullivan Supporters vote Division outcome

4th May 2016, 4:06 PM – Senate Motions - Sugar Industry - Act on Committee recommendations

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Independent Senator Glenn Lazarus, which called on the Government to act on the recommendations made by the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee on the Australian sugar industry.

What did the motion say?

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) the Australian sugarcane industry is one of Australia's largest and most important rural industries with sugarcane being Queensland's largest agricultural crop,

(ii) around 85 per cent of the raw sugar produced in Queensland is exported and generates up to $2 billion in export earnings,

(iii) the majority of mills in Australia are foreign owned and Australian grower groups are concerned about the monopoly powers of mills to misuse their market power against Australian sugarcane growers, particularly in response to changes to the industry from 2017 which may see large foreign owned milling companies taking control of the Australian sugar marketing sector, and

(iv) the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee report Current and future arrangements for the marketing of Australian sugar, tabled in June 2015, recommended the development and implementation of a mandatory sugar industry code of conduct;

(b) acknowledges that Australian sugarcane growers are urgently seeking implementation of a national industry code of conduct to protect them from large resourced companies exercising monopoly powers to dictate the commercial relationship between millers and growers, the installation of a commercial arbitration facility to support them to resolve issues with mills, and the ability to select a sugar marketing organisation of their choice; and

(c) calls on the Federal Government to support Australian sugarcane growers, to act on the recommendation in the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee report, and to work with industry as a matter of urgency to:

(i) develop and implement a code of conduct,

(ii) establish a national commercial arbitration service,

(iii) provide Australian canegrowers with the flexibility to select sugar marketing organisations of their choice, and

(iv) establish a national support service for Australian canegrowers.

No Yes Not passed by a modest majority

24th Nov 2014, 5:06 PM – Senate Motions - Foreign Investment - Limit foreign investment

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Greens Senator Christine Milne, which would have put further limits on foreign investment.

Wording of the motion

That the Senate

(a) notes:

(i) the Free Trade memorandum of understanding [63.5KB] signed between Australia and China, and

(ii) that climate change, with its consequent global food insecurity, is driving governments to acquire land and water outside their own borders as sources of food supply; and

(b) calls on the Government to:

(i) create a register of foreign ownership of agricultural land and water assets to continuously track overseas purchases,

(ii) lower the threshold from $248 million to $5 million for consideration of the national interest by the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) for purchases of agricultural land and water by a foreign private entity,

(iii) legislate a stronger national interest test to be applied by the FIRB for purchases of agricultural land and water resources, and

(iv) prohibit the purchase of agricultural land and water by wholly owned subsidiaries of foreign governments.

No Yes (strong) Not passed by a modest majority

17th Jul 2014, 12:34 PM – Senate Qantas Sale Amendment Bill 2014 - Third Reading - Pass the bill

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The majority agreed to pass the bill (in parliamentary jargon, they wanted to give it a third reading).

What next for the bill?

Because several amendments were made in the Senate, the bill will now be sent back to the House of Representatives so that the Members of Parliament (MPs) there can decide whether they agree to the changes. If the MPs do agree, the bill will become law. You can keep track with the progress of the bill through both houses of Parliament on the bill's homepage.

What does the bill do?

The main idea of the bill is to remove the foreign ownership and other restrictions that apply to Qantas but do not apply to other airlines based in Australia (read more on ABC News and on ABC's AM).

Background to the bill

The Government introduced this bill after refusing to give Qantas a debt guarantee (see ABC News), which Qantas had wanted because it looked like credit agencies may downgrade to Qantas’ credit rating (see the bills digest).

The current restrictions on Qantas include:

  • limits on the issue of Qantas shares and their ownership
  • the makeup of the board of directors
  • use of the name Qantas and the location of the head office
  • the place of incorporation and the principle place of business.
Yes No (strong) Passed by a modest majority

17th Jul 2014, 11:38 AM – Senate Qantas Sale Amendment Bill 2014 - Second Reading - Agree the main idea of the bill

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The majority supported the main idea of the bill (in parliamentary jargon, they wanted to give it a second reading). This means the senators can now discuss the bill in more detail.

The main idea of the bill is to remove the foreign ownership and other restrictions that apply to Qantas but do not apply to other airlines based in Australia (read more on ABC News and on ABC's AM).

Background to the bill

The Government introduced this bill after refusing to give Qantas a debt guarantee (see ABC News), which Qantas had wanted because it looked like credit agencies may downgrade to Qantas’ credit rating (see the bills digest).

The current restrictions on Qantas include:

  • limits on the issue of Qantas shares and their ownership
  • the makeup of the board of directors
  • use of the name Qantas and the location of the head office
  • the place of incorporation and the principle place of business.
Yes No (strong) Passed by a modest majority

How "voted very strongly 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 3 0 150
MP absent 0 0 0
Less important votes (10 points)      
MP voted with policy 0 0 0
MP voted against policy 1 0 10
Less important absentees (2 points)      
MP absent* 0 0 0
Total: 0 160

*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 = 0 / 160 = 0.0%.

And then