How Penny Wright voted compared to someone who believes that the federal government should maintain or increase its investment in and support for the Australian coal industry

Division Penny Wright Supporters vote Division outcome

9th Sep 2015, 4:28 PM – Senate Motions - Newcastle City Council Investment Policies - Environmental investment

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon (Greens), which means it failed.

Motion text

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) Newcastle City Council recently passed an update to its investment policies that notes the Council's preference for environmentally and socially responsible investment, and notes reports that this policy will see the Council shift its investments away from coal and fossil fuels,

(ii) the decision has been heavily criticised by the Minister for Industry and Science (Mr Macfarlane), despite warnings from scientists that Australia must act to stave off catastrophic climate change, and

(iii) an opinion poll conducted after the Council's decision found that only one in four Newcastle residents think investing in coal is financially safe; and

(b) congratulates the Newcastle City Council on updating its investment policy and joining councils across New South Wales, such as Lake Macquarie City Council, Willoughby Council, the City of Sydney, Marrickville Council, Leichhardt Council and Lismore City Council, in adopting policies regarding environmentally and socially responsible investment.

absent No Not passed by a modest majority

25th Mar 2015, 5:25 PM – Senate Business - Great Barrier Reef - Galilee Basin

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Motion text

That the Senate—

(a) notes:

(i) the recent report of the Australian Coral Reef Society which stated that policies for a safe climate are inconsistent with the opening of new fossil fuel industries like the mega coal mines of the Galilee Basin, and

(ii) the comments of Professor Terry Hughes on ABC Radio that it is an impossible task to open up the mega coal mines of the Galilee Basin while sustaining the Great Barrier Reef for future generations; and

(b) agrees that Galilee Basin coal must stay in the ground in order to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

Yes No Not passed by a modest majority

3rd Mar 2015 – Senate Motions — Liverpool Plains

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Greens Senator for Queensland Larissa Waters moved that the Senate:

(a) notes that:

  • (i) the Liverpool Plains is one of the most important agricultural regions in Australia with rare and highly productive black soils, excellent water resources and a favourable local climate,

  • (ii) farming has occurred on the Liverpool Plains for generations and the agricultural productivity of the area is up to 40 per cent above the national average for all farming regions of Australia,

  • (iii) highly productive agricultural land, like that of the Liverpool Plains, is a finite resource,

  • (iv) the New South Wales Planning Assessment Commission has recently approved the development of Chinese state-owned company Shenhua's Watermark open-cut coal mine on the Liverpool Plains, which will extract 268 million tonnes of coal over 30 years, 3 kilometres from the town of Breeza,

  • (v) farmers in the region are angry and extremely concerned that if this coal mine goes ahead their soils and the highly interconnected groundwater aquifers they rely on will be irreversibly damaged,

  • (vi) the Northern Daily Leader reported on 4 July 2014 That the Minister for Agriculture (Mr Joyce) said, 'I think the idea of a coalmine on the Breeza Plains is an absurdity' and 'I think it's most likely that it's going to have a deleterious effect on the aquifers', and

  • (vii) the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported on 9 September 2014 that the Minister for Agriculture said of the Liverpool Plains, 'I've always said from the start that I don't believe that it is the appropriate place for a coal mine'; and

(b) believes That the Liverpool Plains should be permanently off limits to coal mining and coal seam gas extraction.

Yes No Not passed by a modest majority

24th Nov 2014, 5:13 PM – Senate Motions - Mining - Galilee Basin

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Motion text

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) the Queensland Premier, Mr Campbell Newman, has announced that he will use public money from the sale, or long term lease, of public assets to build a coal railway for mining magnates,

(ii) Premier Newman has already announced that public money will be used to pay for dredging in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and dumping on the nationally significant Caley Valley wetlands near Abbot Point, and

(iii) Queensland's existing industries, our safety, our environment, including the Great Barrier Reef, and our very way of life are at risk from climate change which is driven by burning fossil fuels; and

(b) calls on the Federal Government to rule out allowing federal public funds to be used to pay for coal mines, railways or coal ports associated with the Galilee Basin.

Yes No Not passed by a modest majority

28th Oct 2014, 4:07 PM – Senate Motions - Mining - Acknowledge massive economic benefits

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The majority supported acknowledging "the massive economic benefits" of the black coal mining industry.

Wording of the motion

National Party Senator Barry O'Sullivan wanted the Senate to acknowledge:

the massive economic benefits delivered to this nation by the black coal industry and the importance it has for the employment fortunes of miners and other professionals in this nation, noting that Australia should maintain a diverse and sensible energy mix.

Background to the motion

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his Government has been criticised for being too in favour of coal mining at the expense of addressing climate change (for example, see ABC News).

No Yes Passed by a modest majority

15th Mar 2012, 12:12 PM – Senate Motions - Coal - From coal to clean energy market

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The majority voted against a motion introduced by Greens Senator Christine Milne, which means the motion was unsuccessful.

Motion text

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) China's twelfth 5 year plan is expected to introduce caps on coal use from 2015,

(ii) the price of coking coal has already dropped some 40 per cent in the past year, due in large part to a drop in China's demand for imported coal,

(iii) China expects utility scale solar power to out-compete new coal-fired power stations by the end of the decade, while the Indian Government expects the cost crossover as soon as 2016,

(iv) India's economic giant, Tata Power, has publicly stated that its new investments will favour renewable energy, as coal power is becoming 'impossible' to develop,

(v) the Australian Bureau of Resource and Energy Economics (BREE) continues to predict that coal exports will double over the next two decades, and

(vi) Australia is leaving itself economically exposed by focusing on the development of coal export infrastructure; and

(b) calls on the Government to:

(i) require BREE to review its modelling based on the current geopolitics of coal, and

(ii) rethink Australia's economic settings, which assume ongoing increases in the coal export market, and instead look to broaden Australia's economic base and build a more competitive clean energy economy.

Yes No Not passed by a modest 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 5 0 50
Less important absentees (2 points)      
MP absent* 1 1 2
Total: 1 52

*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 = 1 / 52 = 1.9%.

And then