How Stephen Parry voted compared to someone who believes that the federal government should amend freedom of information (FOI) legislation to increase public access to government data and documents

Division Stephen Parry Supporters vote Division outcome

13th Aug 2009, 11:49 AM – Senate Freedom of Information (Removal of Conclusive Certificates and Other Measures) Bill 2008 [2009] — In Committee — Remove deeming provisions exempting agencies

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The majority voted against the amendments introduced by Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, which means they were unsuccessful. The amendments would have inserted provisions to repeal subsection 7(1) and Division 1 of Part I of Schedule 2 of the Freedom of Information Act 1982, which dealt with the exemption of certain persons and bodies from the provisions of that Act.

Background to the bill

The bill was introduced to:

  • remove the power to issue conclusive certificates;
  • revoke existing conclusive certificates if a new access request is received;
  • implement measures to protect sensitive information in proceedings before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal; and
  • make consequential amendments.(More information about the bill, including its explanatory memorandum, is available here


The abolition of conclusive certificates was part of the Labor Party's 2007 election policy commitment.(Read more about this policy commitment in the bills digest. ) This would have addressed the current situation where a Minister can issue a certificate that exempts a document from the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 if the Minister is satisfied that an exemption applies (e.g. in relation to national security).(Read more about conclusive certificates in the bills digest.)

No Yes Not passed by a large majority

How "voted consistently 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* 0 0 0
Total: 0 50

*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 / 50 = 0.0%.

And then