How Stephen Parry voted compared to someone who believes that Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) debts - also known as HECS-HELP debts - should be indexed in line with the ten-year bond rate, capped at six per cent, instead of the generally lower rate of the Consumer Price Index (CPI)

Division Stephen Parry Supporters vote Division outcome

2nd Dec 2014, 5:58 PM – Senate Higher Education and Research Reform Amendment Bill 2014 - Second Reading - Agree with the main idea of the bill

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The majority disagreed with the main idea of the bill (in parliamentary jargon, they refused to give the bill a second reading). This means the bill is now rejected and won't be considered any more. Read more about this division in ABC News.

Main idea of the bill

The main idea of the bill is to introduce broad ranging changes to the higher education sector, including the three changes mentioned below.

1. Deregulating university fees

One of the most controversial aspects of the bill is that it will remove any restrictions on the amount that universities can charge students for tuition in Commonwealth Supported Places (CSPs). It is not known how much tuition fees would rise if this bill is passed and becomes law (read more in the bills digest).

2. Indexing HECS-HELP debt by ten year bond rate

The bill will also introduce new indexation arrangements for Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) debts (also known as HECS-HELP debts). Currently, these debts are indexed by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The bill proposes to index them by the generally higher ten year bond rate, with a cap at 6%.

3. Charging fees for postgraduate research degrees

Currently, postgraduate students in research degrees don't have to pay any tuition costs. The bill will allow universities to charge these students fees of up to $3,900 per unit for high-cost courses and $1,700 for low-cost courses.

Background to the bill

As part of its 2014-15 Budget, Prime Minister Tony Abbott's Government has announced a series of changes to government funding arrangements and this bill is part of those changes (read more in the bills digest).

Yes Yes (strong) Not passed by a small majority

How "voted very strongly for" 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 1 50 50
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 0 0 0
Less important absentees (2 points)      
MP absent* 0 0 0
Total: 50 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 = 50 / 50 = 100%.

And then