How Larissa Waters 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 Larissa Waters Supporters vote Division outcome

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.

No Yes Not passed by a large majority

11th Oct 2011 – Senate Higher Education Legislation Amendment (Student Services and Amenities) Bill 2010 - Third Reading - Read a third time

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The majority voted in favour of a motion to read the bill a third time. The bill allows universities to impose an annual capped compulsory student services and amenities fee.

This means that the bill has been passed in the Senate and, as it has already been passed in the House of Representatives, it will now be sent to the Governor General to be made into law.

Debate in Parliament

The bill was introduced into the Senate by Labor Party Senator Don Farrell during the last week of sitting in 2010.(See MP Farrell's motion here. ) However, it was not debated until the following September.

Liberal Party Senator Brett Mason said that the Coalition opposed the bill “because we do not believe that students should be forced to pay for services that they would not or cannot use”.(Read MP Mason's contribution here. )

Labor Party Senator Carol Brown, the Deputy Government Whip in the Senate, argued that the bill “will restore resources for representation and advocacy as well as vital services and amenities”.(Read MP Brown's contribution here. )

Background to the bill

Compulsory student union fees were abolished under then Prime Minister John Howard’s Coalition Government with the Higher Education Support Amendment (Abolition of Compulsory Upfront Student Union Fees) Bill 2005. This meant that universities could no longer require students to pay a compulsory fee for facilities, amenities or services that were not of an academic nature.

The Higher Education Legislation Amendment (Student Services and Amenities) Bill 2010 is the third bill introduced by the Labor Government to re-introduce a compulsory student services and amenities fee since 2009. The first bill, the Higher Education Legislation Amendment (Student Services and Amenities, and other Measures) Bill 2009, was defeated in the Senate.(See that division here.) The second, the Higher Education Legislation Amendment (Student Services and Amenities) Bill 2009, lapsed at the end of the 42nd Parliament.

References

Yes No (strong) 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 1 0 50
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 60

*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 / 60 = 0.0%.

And then