How James McGrath voted compared to someone who believes that the federal government should introduce legislation and regulations that protect and conserve Australia's marine ecosystems such as the Great Barrier Reef

Division James McGrath Supporters vote Division outcome

12th Feb 2019 – Senate Motions - Great Australian Bight - End oil and gas drilling

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by SA Senator Sarah Hanson-Young (Greens), which means it failed.

Motion text

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) a six year survey of the Great Australian Bight (the Bight), conducted as part of a joint effort by the South Australian Research and Development Institute, CSIRO, the University of Adelaide, Flinders University and BP, has discovered more than 400 previously unknown species,

(ii) the Bight is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet,

(iii) BP and Equinor's own modelling of an oil spill in the Bight shows the scale of disaster that is possible, and

(iv) Equinor plans to commence drilling in the Bight as early as next year; and

(b) calls on the Federal Government to suspend all current oil and gas exploration and drilling licences, and move to ban future oil and gas drilling in the Bight.

No Yes Not passed by a modest majority

4th Dec 2018, 4:46 PM – Senate Motions - East Coast Inshore Fin Fish Fishery - Add conditions to accreditation

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The majority voted in favour of a motion introduced by Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson (Tas), which means the motion passed. Motions like these don't make any legal changes on their own but can be politically influential as they represent the will of the Senate.

Motion text

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) the East Coast Inshore Fin-Fish Fishery (ECIFFF) is Queensland's largest fishery, running adjacent to the entire east coast,

(ii) the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's most recent Outlook Report (2014) identifies the management of the ECIFFF by the Queensland Government as a risk to the reef's ecosystem and heritage values, particularly through the taking of predators, and the bycatching of endangered wildlife, such as snubfin dolphins and dugongs,

(iii) the Queensland Government's Sustainable Fisheries Strategy 2017-2027 outlines its commitment to the reform of fisheries management,

(iv) the Minister for the Environment is considering the ecological sustainability of the ECIFFF for export approval,

(v) scalloped hammerhead sharks were recently listed as Conservation Dependent, following advice from the Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), but are still being taken from the ECIFFF, and

(vi) the TSSC recommended that scalloped hammerhead sharks be landed with fins attached, as is the case in Commonwealth, South Australian, New South Wales, Victorian and Tasmanian managed fisheries; and

(b) calls on the Minister for the Environment to ensure that strong, time-bound conditions are attached to the accreditation of the ECIFFF for export approval, including:

(i) a requirement to ensure an independent observer and monitoring program is implemented,

(ii) analysis of high conservation values to snubfin dolphins and dugongs, and implementation of area closures to reduce bycatch following the principles of adaptive management (noting that work is ongoing in regard to real-time tracking of dolphins and dugongs in an effort to reduce bycatch), and

(iii) a requirement for scalloped hammerhead sharks to be landed with fins attached.

No Yes Passed by a small majority

3rd Dec 2018, 4:39 PM – Senate Motions - Shark Mitigation - Non-lethal methods

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The majority voted in favour of a motion introduced by Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson (Tas), which means it succeeded.

Motion text

That the Senate—

(a) notes:

(i) the two tragic human-shark interactions in Cid Harbour, the Whitsundays, in September 2018, and the trauma and hurt that has resulted,

(ii) that the Queensland Government culled at least six sharks in response to these interactions,

(iii) the fatality of Dr Daniel Christidis in Cid Harbour, in November 2018, from a shark bite after these culls; and extends condolences to his family and friends,

(iv) that there is no evidence that lethal shark mitigation methods, such as nets or drum lines, make the ocean safe,

(v) an ancient 4.65-metre Great White Shark was recently killed by shark nets at Maroubra Beach, Sydney,

(vi) that the Great White Shark is a threatened species and protected in Australia by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999; and is protected internationally through a number of mechanisms,

(vii) that, as apex predators, sharks play an important role in the ecosystem by maintaining the species below them in the food chain and serving as an indicator for ocean health; and that a number of scientific studies have demonstrated that the depletion of sharks results in the loss of commercially important finfish and shellfish species down the food chain, including key fisheries such as tuna that maintain the health of coral reefs, and

(viii) the recommendation of the Environment and Communications References Committee inquiry into shark mitigation and deterrent measures, that the Australian Government should establish a national working group to develop strategies and facilitate information-sharing about non-lethal measures with the objective of ending lethal shark control programs; and

(b) calls upon:

(i) the Australian Government to establish this working group, and

(ii) the State and Federal Governments to phase-out the use of lethal shark mitigation methods and invest in non-lethal methods as a way of protecting the environment without putting human lives at risk.

No Yes Passed by a small majority

16th Aug 2018, 4:14 PM – Senate Regulations and Determinations - Marine Parks Network Management Plans - Disallow

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The majority voted against a motion to disallow four marine parks management plans, meaning that the plans remain in force.

Greens Senators Louise Pratt and Peter Whish-Wilson introduced these disallowance motions, arguing that the plans (along with one other):

revoke about 40 million hectares of high-level national marine parks, almost twice the area of Victoria. This is equivalent to revoking half of Australia's national parks on land.

Motion text

That the South-west Marine Parks Network Management Plan 2018, made under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, be disallowed [F2018L00326].

That the North Marine Parks Network Management Plan 2018, made under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, be disallowed [F2018L00324].

That the North-west Marine Parks Network Management Plan 2018, made under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, be disallowed [F2018L00322].

That the Temperate East Marine Parks Network Management Plan 2018, made under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, be disallowed [F2018L00321].

No Yes (strong) Not passed by a small majority

16th Aug 2018, 4:10 PM – Senate Regulations and Determinations - Marine Parks Network Management Plan - Disallow

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The majority voted against a motion meaning that the plan remains in force.

Greens Senators Louise Pratt and Peter Whish-Wilson introduced this disallowance motion, arguing that the plan (along with four others):

revoke about 40 million hectares of high-level national marine parks, almost twice the area of Victoria. This is equivalent to revoking half of Australia's national parks on land.

Motion text

That the Coral Sea Marine Park Management Plan 2018, made under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, be disallowed [F2018L00327].

No Yes (strong) Not passed by a small majority

25th Jun 2018, 4:11 PM – Senate Motions - Great Australian Bight - World Heritage Listing

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young (SA), which means it failed.

Motion text

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) around 85 per cent of marine life within the Great Australian Bight is found nowhere else on Earth, and

(ii) British Petroleum (BP) claimed in an application to the Commonwealth offshore petroleum regulator that an oil spill in the Great Australian Bight would be "socially acceptable", further claiming "in most instances, the increased activity associated with cleanup operations will be a welcome boost to local economies";

(b) recognises that:

(i) Mayo's coastal communities would be among the hardest hit if oil spilled in the Bight, and

(ii) 74 per cent of Mayo residents want World Heritage Listing for the Great Australian Bight; and

(c) calls on the government to respect the wishes of the overwhelming majority of Mayo residents, by beginning the process of listing the Great Australian Bight for World Heritage Status—not only to protect, but to celebrate what's great about the Bight.

No Yes Not passed by a modest majority

27th Mar 2018, 7:38 PM – Senate Regulations and Determinations - Marine Parks Network Management Plans - Disallow

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The majority voted against a motion to stop certain legal instruments from having force in law. In parliamentary jargon, they voted against disallowing these instruments.

Labor Senator Louise Pratt, who introduced the motion, explained these instruments as "environmental vandalism", though other senators disagreed. Read their opinions in the debate for an overview of the different positions.

Motion text

That the following instruments, made under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, be disallowed:

No Yes Not passed by a small majority

27th Mar 2018, 4:08 PM – Senate Motions - Oil Exploration - Seismic testing in the Great Australian Bight

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The majority voted against this motion, which means it failed.

Motion text

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) is currently considering an application from Petroleum Geoservices Australia to conduct 3D and 2D seismic surveys in environmentally sensitive waters off Port Lincoln and Kangaroo Island,

(ii) seismic testing involves blasting 260 decibels of sound every 10 seconds, and

(iii) this volume is louder than a space shuttle launch from its launch pad, a nuclear bomb from its epicentre, and the sound produced at the epicentre of Krakatoa's volcanic eruption in 1883, which was audible 4 500 kms away from its source;

(b) further notes that:

(i) if approved, the seismic testing program would impact the direct migratory path of southern Bluefin tuna, southern right whales and sperm whales, and

(ii) a seismic test of this proposed scale can result in death;

(c) commends the actions of the Kangaroo Island Council, the Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association, Sea Shepherd, the Australian Marine Conservation Society, the Wilderness Society, Greenpeace and concerned local community members in drawing attention to the potential harm that this seismic testing program could create if approved by NOPSEMA; and

(d) call on the Federal Government to prohibit seismic testing the Great Australian Bight.

No Yes Not passed by a modest majority

22nd Jun 2017, 12:24 PM – Senate Motions - Aquaculture Industry - Okehampton Bay salmon farm

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson (Tas), which means it failed.

Motion text

That the Senate—

(a) notes:

(i) the damage caused to the Macquarie Harbour World Heritage Area, including the threat to the endangered Maugean Skate, as a result of the overstocking of salmon farms in the harbour,

(ii) the proceedings brought by Huon Aquaculture in the Federal Court and the Tasmanian Supreme Court against the Tasmanian Government for failing to properly regulate salmon farming by Tassal in Macquarie Harbour,

(iii) that the Commonwealth is investigating whether conditions imposed as part of the 2012 expansion of salmon farming in Macquarie Harbour have been breached,

(iv) the decision of the Hodgman Government to grant permission to Tassal to establish an 800 000 fish salmon farm in Okehampton Bay on Tasmania's pristine east coast, and

(v) concerns from a wide cross-section of the community over the proposed Okehampton Bay salmon farm, including the concerns expressed by around 1 000 people who attended FloatMo in Hobart on 18 June 2017; and

(b) calls on the Hodgman Government to withdraw permission for a salmon farm in Okehampton Bay given the record of atrocious mismanagement and poor regulation of Tasmania's aquaculture industry.

No Yes Not passed by a modest majority

12th Oct 2016, 4:06 PM – Senate Motions - Oil Exploration - Great Australian Bight

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by SA Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, which means it was unsuccessful.

Motion text

That the Senate—

(a) welcomes the decision by BP to withdraw its application to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight; and

(b) calls on the Turnbull Government to permanently ban all oil exploration and drilling in the Great Australian Bight.

No Yes Not passed by a modest majority

2nd Mar 2016, 4:32 PM – Senate Motions - Protection of Shark Species - Full protection to five species

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The majority voted against a motion, which means that it was unsuccessful.

Greens Senator Rachel Siewert had proposed the motion to give full protection to five shark species that don't have that at the moment.

Wording of the motion

That the Senate—

(a) recognises that:

(i) sharks play an important role as apex predators in marine ecosystems, and

(ii) world shark populations are falling by between 63 to 273 million per year due to fisheries overexploitation;

(b) notes that the Australian Government has entered reservations against five shark species (big-eyed, pelagic and common thresher sharks, and scalloped and great hammerheads) under the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, removing those shark species from the full protection otherwise provided by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the Act); and

(c) calls on the Australian Government to remove reservations for those five shark species, and to provide them full protection under the Act, by continuing to list Appendices I and II species on the Convention on Migratory Species as 'migratory species' under the Act.

No Yes (strong) Not passed by a small majority

7th Sep 2015, 3:45 PM – Senate Refer 'supertrawlers' to the Environment and Communications References Committee

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The majority of Senators agreed to the following motion:

That the following matter be referred to the Environment and Communications References Committee for inquiry and report by 30 April 2016:

The environmental, social and economic impacts of large capacity fishing vessels commonly known as 'supertrawlers' operating in Australia's marine jurisdiction, with particular reference to:

(a) the effect of large fishing vessels on the marine ecosystem, including:

  • (i) impacts on fish stocks and the marine food chain, and

  • (ii) bycatch and interactions with protected marine species;

(b) current research and scientific knowledge;

(c) social and economic impacts, including effects on other commercial fishing activities and recreational fishing;

(d) the effectiveness of the current regulatory framework and compliance arrangements; and

(e) any other related matters.

No Yes Passed by a small majority

12th Feb 2015, 1:38 PM – Senate Bills – Environment Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 – in Committee – Amendment: extend protections to all threatened species

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The Senate voted not to accept an amendment to the Environment Legislation Amendment Bill 2013, moved by Senator Larissa Waters.

According to the summary on the “bill’s homepage” on the Parliament’s website, this bill:

amends the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 to provide additional protection for dugong and turtle populations from the threats of poaching, illegal trade and illegal transportation.

Senator Waters explained the aim of their amendment:

This government has sought to introduce increased protection just for turtles and dugongs ... if the argument is that the penalties for turtles and dugongs are inadequate then surely that argument would logically extend to all of the penalties for the take of threatened species being indeed inadequate. And so we will move this amendment, the purpose of which is to say, 'Well, clearly, protection for threatened species is inadequate and does need to be increased.' This amendment would increase the penalties for the unlawful take of threatened species across the board, so that we are not just cherry picking and saying that turtles and dugongs deserve additional protection but no other threatened species do.

Senator Senator Simon Birmingham explained the Government’s opposition to this amendment:

Very briefly, the government will not be supporting these amendments. This policy about tripling penalties in relation to turtles and dugongs is one we took to the election ... We have made sure that we have worked hard to get broad support for this. To do so to other species would necessitate further public consultation, and that is why we do not believe that the amendments proposed by Senator Waters at this time are appropriate.

More detail is available through the debate and bill links.

No Yes (strong) Not passed by a small 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 4 0 200
MP absent 0 0 0
Less important votes (10 points)      
MP voted with policy 0 0 0
MP voted against policy 9 0 90
Less important absentees (2 points)      
MP absent* 0 0 0
Total: 0 290

*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 / 290 = 0.0%.

And then