How Ron Boswell voted compared to someone who believes that the federal government should introduce legislation that increases the powers and influence of trade unions in workplace relations

Division Ron Boswell Supporters vote Division outcome

28th Jun 2013, 3:08 PM – Senate Migration Amendment (Temporary Sponsored Visas) Bill 2013 - Third Reading - Read a third time

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The majority voted in favour of a motion to read the Migration Amendment (Temporary Sponsored Visas) Bill 2013 for a third time.

This means that the bill has passed through the Senate. Since it has already passed through the House of Representatives, it can now be sent to the Governor General to become law.

Debate in Parliament

This bill was considered by the Senate on the last sitting day of the 43rd Parliament, which meant the debate had to be short.

Liberal Party Senator Michaelia Cash said that the legislation was “being slammed through the Senate with 3½ minutes of debate” and argued that it showed how “the union movement controls the ALP [Australian Labor Party]”.(Read Senator Cash's whole contribution here. )

A controversial aspect of the bill that was introduced by amendment in the House of Representatives is the requirement that unions are represented on the Ministerial Advisory Council on Skilled Migration.(See the debate on this amendment here. )

Background to the Bill

The Migration Amendment (Temporary Sponsored Visas) Bill 2013 was introduced by MP O'Connor to “enhance the government's ability to deter sponsor behaviour which is inconsistent with the policy intent of the subclass 457 visa program and other temporary employer sponsored visa programs”.(Read MP O'Connor's comments here. ) At the time this bill was introduced, the 457 visa program was receiving extensive media attention with claims that it was being misused.(See ABC News. A simple explanation of the 457 visa scheme can be found on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s website here.)

References

absent Yes Passed by a small majority

28th Jun 2013, 3:04 PM – Senate Migration Amendment (Temporary Sponsored Visas) Bill 2013 - Second Reading - Read a second time

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The majority voted in favour of a motion to read the Migration Amendment (Temporary Sponsored Visas) Bill 2013 for a second time.

This means that the bill can now be considered in further detail. However, in this case, there was no further discussion of the bill and the Senate immediately voted on whether to pass it.(That division is available here. )

Debate in Parliament

This bill was considered by the Senate on the last sitting day of the 43rd Parliament, which meant the debate had to be short.

Liberal Party Senator Michaelia Cash said that the legislation was “being slammed through the Senate with 3½ minutes of debate” and argued that it showed how “the union movement controls the ALP [Australian Labor Party]”.(Read Senator Cash's whole contribution here. )

A controversial aspect of the bill that was introduced by amendment in the House of Representatives is the requirement that unions are represented on the Ministerial Advisory Council on Skilled Migration.(See the debate on this amendment here. )

Background to the Bill

The Migration Amendment (Temporary Sponsored Visas) Bill 2013 was introduced by MP O'Connor to “enhance the government's ability to deter sponsor behaviour which is inconsistent with the policy intent of the subclass 457 visa program and other temporary employer sponsored visa programs”.(Read MP O'Connor's comments here. ) At the time this bill was introduced, the 457 visa program was receiving extensive media attention with claims that it was being misused.(See ABC News. A simple explanation of the 457 visa scheme can be found on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s website here.)

References

absent Yes Passed by a small majority

27th Jun 2013, 10:12 PM – Senate Fair Work Amendment Bill 2013 - Second Reading - Right of entry

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The majority voted in favour of a motion "that schedule 4 and part 5 of schedule 7 [of the Fair Work Amendment Bill 2013] stand as printed."

In other words, the senators were voting on whether they supported that part and schedule, which expanded the rights of permit holders (such as union officials who have received a permit from the Fair Work Commission) to enter work premises for investigation and discussion purposes. Someone who voted Aye supported the part and schedule. Since the majority voted Aye, the part and schedule remained unchanged.

Debate in Parliament

The motion on whether to support the part and schedule was put after Liberal Party Senator Eric Abetz introduced an amendment to oppose them.

Senator Abetz said that he did not have the opportunity to speak to the amendment in detail due to time constraints.(Read Senator Abetz's contribution here.) However, he did say that the expanded right of entry provisions contained in that part and schedule allowed trade union bosses “to invade the lunch room of every workplace in Australia in circumstances where only 13 per cent of the workforce are actually members of the trade union movement in the private sector”.

The Labor Government did not comment on the proposed amendment to oppose the part and schedule.

Background to the bill

The Fair Work Amendment Bill 2013 was partly made in response to a review of the Fair Work Act 2009 (‘the Act’) by an independent review panel in 2012. The Panel found that the Act was broadly meeting its objectives and so its recommendations were mainly technical. Approximately one third of these recommendations were implemented by the Fair Work Amendment Act 2012 and this Bill was introduced to implement several more of the recommendations as well as other reforms.

References

absent Yes Passed by a small majority

27th Jun 2013, 10:08 PM – Senate Fair Work Amendment Bill 2013 - Second Reading - Workplace Bullying

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The majority voted against a motion to amend the Fair Work Amendment Bill 2013, which was introduced by Liberal Party Senator Eric Abetz and was directed at the part of the bill that enabled an employee who is bullied at work to apply to the Fair Work Commission (‘FWC’) for an order to stop the bullying.

The amendment would have expanded the bill's bullying provisions so that they included the conduct of union officials towards workers and employers. It also would have provided that workers were only able to approach the FWC for an order after they had first approached an independent regulatory body for help and advice, such as Safe Work Australia.

Someone who voted Aye supported the amendment. The majority voted No, so the amendment was unsuccessful.

Debate in Parliament

Liberal Senator Eric Abetz said that he did not have the opportunity to speak to the amendments in detail due to time constraints. However, he did emphasise the importance of expanding the bullying provisions to include the conduct of union officials.(Read Senator Abetz's comments and associated debate here.)

The Labor Government did not comment on the proposed amendment.

Background to the bill

The Fair Work Amendment Bill 2013 was partly made in response to a review of the Fair Work Act 2009 (‘the Act’) by an independent review panel in 2012. The Panel found that the Act was broadly meeting its objectives and so its recommendations were mainly technical. Approximately one third of these recommendations were implemented by the Fair Work Amendment Act 2012 and this Bill was introduced to implement several more of the recommendations as well as other reforms.

References

absent No Not passed by a small majority

24th Jun 2013, 10:55 PM – Senate Superannuation Legislation Amendment (Service Providers and Other Governance Measures) Bill 2013 - Second Reading - Independent directors

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The majority voted against a motion to amend the Superannuation Legislation Amendment (Service Providers and Other Governance Measures) Bill 2013.(The text of the proposed amendment can be found here. )

The amendment was introduced by Liberal Party Senator Mathias Cormann to address concerns that the Opposition held about the absence of independent directors on industry superannuation fund boards.

Someone who voted Aye supported the amendment. The majority voted No so the amendment was unsuccessful.

Debate in Parliament

Liberal Senator Cormann argued that the amendment was based on a recommendation made by the Cooper Review into superannuation,(According to the media, the Cooper review recommended "sweeping changes". ) which was that at least one third of directors on industry superannuation fund boards should be independent directors. This would replace the current equal representation model, which Senator Cormann described as a “cosy arrangement with union representatives in charge and employer representatives making up the numbers”.(Read Senator Cormann's contribution here. ) He said that independent directors were important because they are not limited by union or employer interests and so can offer a dispassionate view. The Opposition accused the Government of not following this Cooper Review recommendation because of pressure from the union movement.

The Labor Government did not comment on this amendment.

Background to the Bill

The Bill is the fourth and final legislative bundle implementing the Stronger Super reforms announced by the Labor Government in 2010.(More information about this Bill and the context surrounding it can be found here.) It introduces a number of corporate governance measures that arose out of the Review into the Governance, Efficiency, Structure and Operation of Australia’s Superannuation System (known as the Cooper Review) and the Government’s own consultations with industry, employer and consumer groups.

References

absent No Not passed by a small majority

12th Sep 2012 – Senate Motions - Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union - CFMEU Blockade

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Liberal Senator Eric Abetz, which was:

That the Senate-

(a)   notes that the Supreme Court of Victoria issued interim injunctions against the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) in relation to Grocon sites in Melbourne, and that contempt proceedings in relation to certain injunctions remain before the court;(Read more about the lawsuit on the Financial Review here. )

(b)   condemns the CFMEU's blockade of the Myer Emporium site, which involved violent attacks on police and police horses and posters issued by CFMEU bosses labelling workers as 'scabs';(Read more about the blockade on ABC News here.)

(c)   notes that Grocon workers, who are members of the CFMEU, have expressed disappointment at abuse, threats and intimidation by CFMEU bosses and at the CFMEU's failure to adhere to the law;

(d)   affirms that violence, unlawful activity, bullying, harassment and thuggery have no place in any workplace; and

(e)   calls on the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Greens to refuse to accept any further donations from the CFMEU until it desists from unlawful activity, thuggery and violence in the workplace.

References

Yes No Not passed by a small majority

21st Mar 2012, 12:04 PM – Senate Fair Work Amendment (Textile, Clothing and Footwear Industry) Bill 2011 [2012] - Second Reading - Read a second time

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The majority voted in favour of a motion to read the Fair Work Amendment (Textile, Clothing and Footwear Industry) Bill 2012 a second time.

This means that the majority of senators support the main idea of the bill and that the bill can now be considered in further detail.

Debate in Parliament

Labor Senator Anne Urquhart, speaking for the Labor Government, argued that the bill was necessary to address the “ongoing vulnerability of outworkers in the TCF [textile, clothing and footwear] industry” and “the lack of a consistent approach across the country” to this issue.(Read Senator Urquhart's contribution here. )

Liberal Senator Eric Abetz, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, argued that outworkers should not be treated as employees, saying that such an approach “will stifle the young, the innovative and the entrepreneur”.(Read Senator Abetz's contribution here. )

Background to the Bill

The bill was introduced to address the poor working conditions facing vulnerable workers in the textile, clothing and footwear (TCF) industry.(More information about this bill and the context surrounding it can be found here. The text of the bill as passed by both houses can be found here.) Controversially, it extends most of the provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009 to outworkers by deeming them to be employees. It also extends specific right of entry rules to sweatshop premises. This allows a permit holder (such as a union official) to enter such premises without giving 24 hours notice under certain circumstances.

References

No Yes Passed by a small majority

20th Mar 2012, 6:15 PM – Senate Building and Construction Industry Improvement Amendment (Transition to Fair Work) Bill 2012 - Agree to and pass the bill

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The majority voted in favour of a motion that the remaining stages of the bill be agreed to and that it be passed in the Senate.

Since the bill has already passed in the House of Representatives, the bill will now become law.

The bill abolishes the Australian Building and Construction Commission (‘ABCC’) and creates the Office of the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate.

Background to the bill

The ABCC was originally established by the Coalition Government in 2005 in response to the Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry, which found that there was “widespread disregard of the rule of law” within the industry.( Summary of Findings and Recommendations (1.9MB). For a more general introduction on the ABCC, see the Wikipedia page. )

The Labor Government promised to abolish the ABCC when they were elected in 2007 and this bill reflects that promise.( Supporters condemn dismantling of ABCC – Lateline report)

References

No Yes Passed by a small majority

20th Mar 2012, 6:03 PM – Senate Building and Construction Industry Improvement Amendment (Transition to Fair Work) Bill 2012 - Second Reading - Read a second time

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The majority voted in favour of a motion to read the bill a second time.

This means that the majority of Senators agree with the main idea in the bill, which was to abolish the Australian Building and Construction Commission (‘ABCC’) and create the Office of the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate.

Background to the bill

The ABCC was originally established by the Coalition Government in 2005 in response to the Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry, which found that there was “widespread disregard of the rule of law” within the industry.( Summary of Findings and Recommendations (1.9MB). For a more general introduction on the ABCC, see the Wikipedia page. )

The Labor Government promised to abolish the ABCC when they were elected in 2007 and this bill reflects that promise.( Supporters condemn dismantling of ABCC – Lateline report)

References

No Yes Passed by a small majority

13th Oct 2011 – Senate Motions - Australian Building and Construction Commission - Support the Commission

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Liberal Senator Eric Abetz.

This means that the motion was unsuccessful.

The motion was:

That the Senate-

(a)   recognises the positive contribution to productivity, inflation, gross domestic product and days lost through industrial action of the Australian Building and Construction Commission; and

(b)   affirms the need for a tough cop on the beat with power to compel information in order to keep the building and construction industry free of thuggery, intimidation and illegality.

Yes No Not passed by a small majority

21st Jun 2011 – Senate Governance of Australian Government Superannuation Schemes Bill 2011 - In Committee - Quorum requirement

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The majority voted against an amendment to reduce the quorum requirement contained in the Governance of Australian Government Superannuation Schemes Bill 2011, which was introduced by Liberal Party Senator Mathias Cormann.

A quorum requirement is the number of board members that need to be present at a board meeting before the meeting can conduct any business. If there are not enough board members to make up a quorum, no decisions can be made.

Someone who voted Aye supported the amendment to reduce the quorum requirement. The majority voted No, so the amendment was unsuccessful.

Debate in Parliament

The amendment would have reduced the quorum requirement from nine out of the eleven directors to eight out of the eleven. Senator Cormann argued that the amendment was necessary because the current quorum requirement was “extraordinarily high”.(See Senator Cormann's contribution and the associated debate here. ) He explained that this quorum requirement created a situation where the three Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) directors “could act on bloc” because at least one of the three must attend for the board meeting to reach quorum. By reducing the quorum requirement to eight, “the ACTU by themselves would not be able to make the operations of the board unworkable”.

The Labor Government did not support the amendment. Labor Party Senator Nicholas Sherry said that there are safeguards in place to deal with the issues raised by Senator Cormann.(See Senator Sherry's contribution and the associated debate here. )

Background to the Bill

The Bill is part of a package of three bills.(More information about this bill and the context surrounding it can be found here. The text of the proposed amendment can be found here.) It creates the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation by merging the Australian Reward Investment Alliance, the Military Superannuation and Benefits Board and the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Authority. The purpose of these changes is to modernise Australian Government superannuation and make it more consistent with the broader superannuation industry.

References

Yes No Not passed by a small majority

20th Jun 2011 – Senate Governance of Australian Government Superannuation Schemes Bill 2011 - In Committee - ACTU nomination of board members

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The majority voted against a motion to amend the Governance of Australian Government Superannuation Schemes Bill 2011. The amendment was introduced by Liberal Party Senator Mathias Cormann.

Someone who voted Aye supported the amendment. The majority voted No, so the amendment was unsuccessful.

The amendment would have removed Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) nomination of board members for the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation, which is created by the bill. Under the bill as it currently stands, the ACTU appoints all three of the directors who represent civilian employees.

Debate in Parliament

Liberal Senator Cormann asked “why should the union movement have 100 per cent of employee representative positions on the board to be created under this legislation when they represent only 41 per cent of public sector employees?”(See Senator Cormann's full contribution here. )

The Labor Government did not support the amendment. Labor Party Senator Nick Sherry argued that the arrangements in the bill for the nomination of board members reflects what was already happening and that these arrangements “overwhelmingly have worked well in the governance of our superannuation system”.(See Senator Sherry's full contribution here. ) Senator Sherry added that the amendment represents “typical ongoing abuse of the trade union movement”.

Background to the Bill

The Bill is part of a package of three bills.(More information about this bill and the context surrounding it can be found here. The text of the proposed amendment can be found here.) It creates the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation by merging the Australian Reward Investment Alliance, the Military Superannuation and Benefits Board and the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Authority. The purpose of these changes is to modernise Australian Government superannuation and make it more consistent with the broader superannuation industry.

References

Yes No Not passed by a small majority

How "voted 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 0 0 0
MP absent 0 0 0
Less important votes (10 points)      
MP voted with policy 0 0 0
MP voted against policy 7 0 70
Less important absentees (2 points)      
MP absent* 5 5 10
Total: 5 80

*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 = 5 / 80 = 6.3%.

And then