How Cory Bernardi 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 Cory Bernardi Supporters vote Division outcome

4th May 2016, 4:06 PM – Senate Motions - Sugar Industry - Act on Committee recommendations

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Independent Senator Glenn Lazarus, which called on the Government to act on the recommendations made by the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee on the Australian sugar industry.

What did the motion say?

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) the Australian sugarcane industry is one of Australia's largest and most important rural industries with sugarcane being Queensland's largest agricultural crop,

(ii) around 85 per cent of the raw sugar produced in Queensland is exported and generates up to $2 billion in export earnings,

(iii) the majority of mills in Australia are foreign owned and Australian grower groups are concerned about the monopoly powers of mills to misuse their market power against Australian sugarcane growers, particularly in response to changes to the industry from 2017 which may see large foreign owned milling companies taking control of the Australian sugar marketing sector, and

(iv) the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee report Current and future arrangements for the marketing of Australian sugar, tabled in June 2015, recommended the development and implementation of a mandatory sugar industry code of conduct;

(b) acknowledges that Australian sugarcane growers are urgently seeking implementation of a national industry code of conduct to protect them from large resourced companies exercising monopoly powers to dictate the commercial relationship between millers and growers, the installation of a commercial arbitration facility to support them to resolve issues with mills, and the ability to select a sugar marketing organisation of their choice; and

(c) calls on the Federal Government to support Australian sugarcane growers, to act on the recommendation in the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee report, and to work with industry as a matter of urgency to:

(i) develop and implement a code of conduct,

(ii) establish a national commercial arbitration service,

(iii) provide Australian canegrowers with the flexibility to select sugar marketing organisations of their choice, and

(iv) establish a national support service for Australian canegrowers.

No Yes Not passed by a modest majority

24th Nov 2014, 5:06 PM – Senate Motions - Foreign Investment - Limit foreign investment

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Greens Senator Christine Milne, which would have put further limits on foreign investment.

Wording of the motion

That the Senate

(a) notes:

(i) the Free Trade memorandum of understanding [63.5KB] signed between Australia and China, and

(ii) that climate change, with its consequent global food insecurity, is driving governments to acquire land and water outside their own borders as sources of food supply; and

(b) calls on the Government to:

(i) create a register of foreign ownership of agricultural land and water assets to continuously track overseas purchases,

(ii) lower the threshold from $248 million to $5 million for consideration of the national interest by the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) for purchases of agricultural land and water by a foreign private entity,

(iii) legislate a stronger national interest test to be applied by the FIRB for purchases of agricultural land and water resources, and

(iv) prohibit the purchase of agricultural land and water by wholly owned subsidiaries of foreign governments.

No Yes (strong) Not passed by a modest majority

17th Jul 2014, 12:34 PM – Senate Qantas Sale Amendment Bill 2014 - Third Reading - Pass the bill

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The majority agreed to pass the bill (in parliamentary jargon, they wanted to give it a third reading).

What next for the bill?

Because several amendments were made in the Senate, the bill will now be sent back to the House of Representatives so that the Members of Parliament (MPs) there can decide whether they agree to the changes. If the MPs do agree, the bill will become law. You can keep track with the progress of the bill through both houses of Parliament on the bill's homepage.

What does the bill do?

The main idea of the bill is to remove the foreign ownership and other restrictions that apply to Qantas but do not apply to other airlines based in Australia (read more on ABC News and on ABC's AM).

Background to the bill

The Government introduced this bill after refusing to give Qantas a debt guarantee (see ABC News), which Qantas had wanted because it looked like credit agencies may downgrade to Qantas’ credit rating (see the bills digest).

The current restrictions on Qantas include:

  • limits on the issue of Qantas shares and their ownership
  • the makeup of the board of directors
  • use of the name Qantas and the location of the head office
  • the place of incorporation and the principle place of business.
Yes No (strong) Passed by a modest majority

17th Jul 2014, 11:38 AM – Senate Qantas Sale Amendment Bill 2014 - Second Reading - Agree the main idea of the bill

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The majority supported the main idea of the bill (in parliamentary jargon, they wanted to give it a second reading). This means the senators can now discuss the bill in more detail.

The main idea of the bill is to remove the foreign ownership and other restrictions that apply to Qantas but do not apply to other airlines based in Australia (read more on ABC News and on ABC's AM).

Background to the bill

The Government introduced this bill after refusing to give Qantas a debt guarantee (see ABC News), which Qantas had wanted because it looked like credit agencies may downgrade to Qantas’ credit rating (see the bills digest).

The current restrictions on Qantas include:

  • limits on the issue of Qantas shares and their ownership
  • the makeup of the board of directors
  • use of the name Qantas and the location of the head office
  • the place of incorporation and the principle place of business.
Yes No (strong) Passed by a modest majority

14th Nov 2013, 11:28 AM – Senate Motions - Agriculture - Foreign ownership

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Democratic Labor Party Senator John Madigan. This means that the motion was rejected. The motion was:

That the Senate-

(a) notes that:

(i) in 2010 the Australian Bureau of Statistics published the Agricultural Land and Water Ownership survey (December 2010), which indicated that 11.3 per cent of Australian agricultural land was foreign-owned,

(ii) according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Vote Compass, a significant majority of Australians want to 'further restrict foreign ownership of Australian agricultural land', and(Explore the ABC's Vote Compass, including the data on whether the government should restrict foreign ownership of Australian agricultural land, here.)

(iii) Australian agricultural land is a national treasure and should not be treated as a global commodity; and

(b) calls on the Government to table, no later than the first sitting day of 2013, an updated Agricultural Land and Water Ownership survey, outlining foreign ownership of Australian agricultural land as at June 2013.

No Yes Not passed by a modest majority

13th Nov 2013, 4:01 PM – Senate Motions - Wheat Exports - Reject takeover of GrainCorp by Archer Daniels Midland

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Greens Senator Rachel Siewert. This means that the motion was unsuccessful.

The motion was that:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that Archer Daniels Midland's proposed acquisition of GrainCorp will reduce competition in the wheat exporting market and hurt Australian growers; and

(b) calls on the Treasurer ( Mr Hockey) to reject the takeover bid of GrainCorp by Archer Daniels Midland.(Read more about the concerns surrounding Archer Daniels Midland's bid for GrainCorp on The World Today here. Read more about the opposition to the deal within the Coalition on ABC Rural here.)

No Yes Not passed by a modest majority

11th Sep 2012, 4:09 PM – Senate Documents - Cubbie Station - Foreign investment

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young. This means that the motion was rejected.

The motion was:

That the Senate calls on the Government to:

(a) halt the sale of Cubbie Station;(Read more about the sale of Cubbie Station here)

(b) release the written advice provided by the Foreign Investment Review Board to the Treasurer ( Mr Swan) regarding the proposed sale of Cubbie Station announced on Friday, 31 August 2012; and

(c) complete and release a national audit of foreign ownership of water entitlements.

References

No Yes Not passed by a modest majority

11th Sep 2012, 3:45 PM – Senate Motions - Cubbie Station - Foreign investment

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The majority voted in favour of a motion introduced by Liberal Senator Helen Kroger, which means that it was successful.

The motion was about the sale of Cubbie Station to a foreign-owned company and an Australia-owned company. The sale was controversial because it gave the foreign-owned company 80% initial ownership and, as explained by Senator Kroger, the Station is "one of Australia's most valuable irrigation properties, with a water licence equal to 6 per cent of the water use in the northern Murray-Darling Basin"

Wording of the motion

That the Senate:

(a)   notes that:

(i)   there is bipartisan support for foreign investment, provided that the particular foreign investment is not contrary to the national interest,

(ii)   the Treasurer ( Mr Swan) has approved the potential sale of Cubbie Station to a consortium 80 per cent owned by Shandong RuYi Scientific and Technological Group Co Ltd,

(iii)   the Treasurer has failed to explain why the potential sale to a majority foreign-owned consortium of one of Australia's most valuable irrigation properties, with a water licence equal to 6 per cent of the water use in the northern Murray-Darling Basin, is not contrary to the national interest, and

(iv)   Annex II of the Treasurer's own policy on foreign investment requires him to consider the effect of the proposal on:

(A)   the quality and availability of Australia's agricultural resources, including water,

(B)   land access and use,

(C)   agricultural production and productivity,

(D)   Australia's capacity to remain a reliable supplier of agricultural production both to the Australian community and our trading partners,

(E)    biodiversity, and

(F)   employment and prosperity in Australia's local and regional communities;

(b)   calls on the Treasurer to provide a statement detailing:

(i)   how the Treasurer determined the ownership and control of the consortium, particularly in the context of the national interest,

(ii)   why the Treasurer did not publish an interim order to extend the period of consideration by 90 days as required by Australia's Foreign Investment Policy, and

(iii)   why the sale is not contrary to the national interest and release the advice to the Treasurer from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) and associated documents, including what, if any, other options were considered; and

(c)   calls on the Government to ensure that foreign investment transactions are transparent by:

(i)   establishing a publicly available national register of all foreign acquisitions of Australian agricultural land,

(ii)   reducing the financial threshold for FIRB examination of foreign acquisitions of Australian agricultural land, and

(iii)   ensuring that at least one member of FIRB has experience in agricultural management.

Yes Yes Passed by a small majority

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.)

References

No Yes Not passed by a large majority

11th Oct 2006, 6:13 PM – Senate Broadcasting Services Amendment (Media Ownership) Bill 2006 and three related bill - Second Reading - Agree with the main idea of the bills

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The majority agreed the with main idea of the four bills (in parliamentary jargon, they agreed to read them for a second time). This means that the Senate can now discuss them in more detail.

The four bills were:

More on the Media Ownership bill

Of these four bills, the Media Ownership bill is the most controversial.

Main idea of the Media Ownership bill

The Media Ownership bill will introduce new laws relating to cross media ownership and foreign media ownership. Specifically, it will permit cross-media mergers in radio licence areas where sufficient diversity of media groups remains following the merger and remove media-specific restrictions on foreign ownership and control.

The bill states that there is sufficient diversity of media groups if there are at least five separate media groups in mainland State capitals and at least four groups in other licence areas following any merger activity.

What are cross media ownership laws?

Under the current law, a person can't control two types of media (including TV, radio and newspaper media) within the same licence area. For example, one person can't control a commercial television broadcasting licence and a commercial radio broadcasting licence within a particular area. Nor can they control a commercial radio broadcasting licence and a newspaper associated with the area.

A person is considered to be in control of the particular type of media if they have interests in the company greater than 15%.

What are foreign media ownership laws?

There are currently several controls on foreign ownership of Australian media. For example, there are strict limits on the degree of total foreign interest in newspaper ownership as well as a set limit on the interest of any single foreign shareholder.

Yes No 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 3 0 150
MP absent 0 0 0
Less important votes (10 points)      
MP voted with policy 1 10 10
MP voted against policy 6 0 60
Less important absentees (2 points)      
MP absent* 0 0 0
Total: 10 220

*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 = 10 / 220 = 4.5%.

And then