How Kerry O'Brien voted compared to someone who believes that Members of Parliament (MPs) and Senators should vote to speed things along by supporting motions to 'put the question' (known as 'closure' or 'gag' motions), which require Parliament to immediately vote on a question rather than debating it any further

Division Kerry O'Brien Supporters vote Division outcome

26th Nov 2010, 12:00 PM – Senate Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill 2010 — In Committee - Put the question

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The majority voted in favour of a motion to put the question, which in this case was whether the Senate agreed with the motion put by Senator George Brandis. Because this motion was successful, debate on the question ended and Senator Brandis' motion was immediately put to the Senate.(See that division here. )

Background to the bill

This bill was introduced following the lapse of the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill 2009 and relates to the regulation of consumer protection, competition and licensing in telecommunications markets. According to the bills digest, significant changes made by this bill include:

  • improving the conditions for competition in telecommunications markets by requiring Telstra to be structurally or functionally separated
  • making the telecommunications access regime less susceptible to deliberate delay and obstruction
  • removing a technical impediment to the operation of the anti-competitive conduct regime applying to telecommunications markets
  • clarifying the universal service obligation (USO) and customer service guarantee (CSG) to make it more enforceable
  • extending the obligation to provide priority assistance to those with life threatening conditions to service providers other than Telstra, and
  • enabling breaches of civil penalty provisions - including some concerning the USO and the CSG - to be dealt with by issuing infringement notices.(More information about the bill is available in its bills digest.)

With these measures, the bill seeks to address the issues that result from the monopoly caused by Telstra's vertically and horizontally integrated telecommunications network.

Although this bill is substantially the same as the earlier bill of the same name, it does have some additional provisions.

absent Yes (strong) Passed by a small majority

15th Mar 2010, 3:46 PM – Senate Food Importation (Bovine Meat Standards) Bill 2010 — Second Reading — Put the question to read a second time

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The majority voted in favour of a motion that the question of whether to read the bill for a second time now be put.(Read more about the stages that a bill must pass through to become law here. ) The motion was moved by Senator Stephen Parry. The motion means that the Senate will now vote on having a second reading without further debate.(See that division here. )

Background to the bill

The bill would require that bovine meat and meat products must meet certain assessment processes before being imported into Australia and that the minister determines a country of origin labelling standard for those products.(Read more about the bill, including the text of the bill here. )

Liberal Senator Richard Colbeck explained that the bill has been introduced "following the Rudd Government’s decision to allow the importation of beef and beef products from countries that had reported any cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)".(Read Senator Colbeck's whole explanation of the bill here. Read more about the Rudd Government's decision to allow imports on ABC's AM Program here. ) This decision means that such importations could take place from 1 March 2010. Since 2001, measures have been in place "to protect the public and the beef industry from potentially contaminated beef products".(As above.)

No Yes (strong) Passed by a small majority

How "voted moderately 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 1 0 50
MP absent 1 25 50
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: 25 100

*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 = 25 / 100 = 25%.

And then