How Rex Patrick voted compared to someone who believes that the federal government should actively participate in the research grant process with the Australian Research Council (ARC) by, for example, vetoing certain grant application where considered appropriate

Division Rex Patrick Supporters vote Division outcome

4th Dec 2018, 4:37 PM – Senate Motions - Australian Research Council - Remove National Interest Test

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The majority voted in favour of a motion, which means it succeeded. Motions like these don't make any legal changes on their own but do represent the will of the Senate and so can be politically influential.

Motion text

That the Senate:

(a) notes that:

(i) the new National Interest Test for the Australian Research Council research grants will allow the Government of the day to influence an independent research approval process,

(ii) narrow political agendas should not be allowed to determine long-term research priorities, and

(iii) the Australian Research Council already has a rigorous peer review process for assessing grant applications and applicants are required to demonstrate the benefits and impact of their research; and

(b) calls on the Federal Government to remove the National Interest Test from research grants administered by the Australian Research Council.

Yes No (strong) Passed by a small majority

13th Nov 2018, 3:52 PM – Senate Documents - Australian Research Council - Order for the Production of Documents

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The majority voted in favour of a motion introduced by Labor Senator Anne Urquhart (Tas), which means it succeeded.

Motion text

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) in evidence to the supplementary Budget estimates hearing of the Education and Employment Legislation Committee, the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Research Council (ARC), Professor Sue Thomas, revealed that the former Minister for Education and Training, Senator Birmingham, had vetoed the funding of eleven humanities and social sciences grants,

(ii) the projects and scholars affected were not notified that their proposal had been deemed successful only to be denied funding by the former Minister; rather this intervention was deliberately and callously kept secret,

(iii) some of scholars involved have had their careers, professional reputation and employment status materially affected by this political interference,

(iv) there has been no comprehensive and detailed public explanation of the reason for the exercise of the ministerial veto, despite this being the practice of the past Labor Government, and

(v) the number of projects in the humanities and social sciences being funded by the ARC has fallen by 35% for Discovery project grants, and 51% for Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards (DECRA) between 2016 and 2018;

(b) condemns this political interference in the normal independent, rigorous and peer review process;

(c) acknowledges the universal condemnation of the Government's position from universities, the learned academies, the research community and ordinary Australians;

(d) urges all political parties, members and senators to commit to the Haldane principle that politicians should not make decisions on funding of individual research projects;

(e) calls on the Federal Government to provide a full and public explanation of why the then Minister for Education and Training arbitrarily rejected these eleven grants recommended by the ARC; and

(f) calls on the ARC to actively encourage the scholars whose grants were rejected to submit them again for the forthcoming grants rounds.

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 2 0 100
MP absent 0 0 0
Less important votes (10 points)      
MP voted with policy 0 0 0
MP voted against policy 0 0 0
Less important absentees (2 points)      
MP absent* 0 0 0
Total: 0 100

*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 / 100 = 0.0%.

And then