How Alan Ferguson 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 Alan Ferguson Supporters vote Division outcome

2nd Feb 2010, 6:08 PM – Senate Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Amendment Bill 2009 - Second Reading - Add an amendment

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The majority voted against an amendment introduced by Independent Senator Nick Xenophon and co-sponsored by Greens Senator Scott Ludlam. This means that the amendment was unsuccessful.

The amendment would have added the following after the words "That these bills be now read a second time":

...but the Senate calls on the Government to bring forward the changes to law and policy necessary to ensure that:

(a) foreign governments cannot use corporate vehicles they control to purchase strategic assets within Australia;

(b) for non-state-owned entities, a ‘related entity’ test is applied, so that different entities under the same ultimate majority control are treated as one entity in assessing whether an acquisition will result in more than 10 percent of control of any strategic asset market in Australia;

(c) the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), in considering decisions on foreign ownership, is required to assess whether Australia has reciprocal rights of investment in the proposer’s country;

(d) effective laws are in place to prevent creeping acquisitions by foreign, state-owned entities of Australian businesses and assets;

(e) the FIRB provides clear criteria of what the ‘national interest’ test is;

(f) abbreviated versions of FIRB advice to the Minister are tabled in both Houses of the Parliament;

(g) clear definitions are advanced of ‘community interest’ and ‘common standards of business behaviour’, and major investment proposals are subjected to rigorous public scrutiny to ensure that they meet genuine common standards of business behaviour; and

(h) the human rights records of the country of state-owned entities seeking to invest in Australia be a key factor during consideration by the FIRB, and that all foreign non-state-owned entities be subject to consideration of their other investment activities and whether these conflict with Australia’s ethical positions.

Background to the bill

The bill amends the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975 so that foreign investors are required to notify the Treasurer where there is a possibility (either now or in the future) that an investment arrangement will deliver influence or control over an Australian company's business or assets.(Read more about the bill, including its explanatory memoranda, here. Its bills digest (298 KB) also contains useful information.)


No Yes Not passed by a large 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 0 0 0
MP absent 0 0 0
Less important votes (10 points)      
MP voted with policy 0 0 0
MP voted against policy 2 0 20
Less important absentees (2 points)      
MP absent* 0 0 0
Total: 0 20

*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 / 20 = 0.0%.

And then