How James McGrath 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 James McGrath Supporters vote Division outcome

17th Oct 2017, 3:52 PM – Senate Motions - Higher Education - Student Services and Amenities Fee

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Australian Conservatives Senator Cory Bernardi, which means it was unsuccessful.

Motion text

(b) calls on the Government to amend the Higher Education Support Act 2003 so that the SSAF can only be levied with the support of the majority of students at each university campus in a mandatory ballot conducted once an academic year.

No Yes Not passed by a large majority

17th Oct 2017, 3:48 PM – Senate Motions - Higher Education - Student Services and Amenities Fee

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The majority voted in favour of a motion introduced by Australian Conservatives Senator Cory Bernardi. Although motions like these have no legal force, they do represent the view of the Senate and so can be politically influential.

Motion text

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) over one million Australian tertiary students are forced to pay up to $294 per year as a Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF),

(ii) students at the moment have very little say in how the SSAF monies are spent by their universities and student associations, and

(iii) SSAF is levied regardless of students' need, willingness and ability to access the services and activities they are paying for; and

Yes Yes Passed by a modest majority

26th Nov 2015, 12:12 PM – Senate Motions - Student Services and Amenities Fee - Students should have to agree to SSAF

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Family First Senator Bob Day, which asked that students at each campus should be able to decide for themselves whether or not pay the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) with a mandatory ballot each year.

Wording of the motion

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) over one million Australian tertiary students are forced to pay up to $286 per year as a Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF),

(ii) students at the moment have very little say in how the SSAF monies are spent by their universities and student associations, and

(iii) SSAF is levied regardless of students' need, willingness and ability to access the services and activities they are paying for; and

(b) calls on the Government to amend the Higher Education Support Act so That the SSAF can only be levied with the support of the majority of students at each university campus in a mandatory ballot conducted once an academic year.

absent Yes Not passed by a large majority

How "voted a mixture of for and 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 0 0 0
MP absent 0 0 0
Less important votes (10 points)      
MP voted with policy 1 10 10
MP voted against policy 1 0 10
Less important absentees (2 points)      
MP absent* 1 1 2
Total: 11 22

*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 = 11 / 22 = 50%.

And then