How Mitch Fifield voted compared to someone who believes that the federal government should extend any financial and work-related entitlements and benefits that currently only apply to heterosexual couples to same-sex couples and their children

Division Mitch Fifield Supporters vote Division outcome

15th Oct 2008, 10:03 AM – Senate Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws - Superannuation) Bill 2008 - Second Reading - Remove discrimination

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The majority voted against an amendment introduced by Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, which means it failed.

Motion text

At the end of the motion, add

but the Senate:

(a) calls on the Government to introduce amendments to the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 to remove discrimination in the administration of private superannuation funds by mandating that where such funds recognises opposite-sex de facto couples they must also recognise same-sex de facto couples;

(b) recommends that the umbrella term ‘couple relationship’ be retained in this bill and also be extended to registered relationships in this bill and in similar legislation to ensure:

(i) equal treatment of same-sex and opposite-sex relationships for the payment of death benefits, and

(ii) that the courts do not treat married, registered or de facto couples differently, in that each would have unique criteria but be provided with equal ‘couple relationship’ entitlements; and

(c) recommends that the terms used to define parents and their children be simplified wherever possible in this and similar legislation to ‘parent’ and ‘child’, and applied consistently to ensure children across Australia are equitably included and the distinction between parents, co-parents and step-parents not be inappropriately or unnecessarily blurred.

No Yes Not passed by a large majority

18th Jun 2008, 11:17 AM – Senate Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws - Superannuation) Bill 2008 - Referral to Committees - Motion no. 1

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The majority voted in favour of motion no. 1, as amended, which was introduced by Liberal Senator Chris Ellison and then amended by Liberal Senator Stephen Parry.

The motion, as amended, was: (1) That:

(a) the Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws—Superannuation) Bill 2008 be referred to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee for inquiry and report; and (b) any related bill or bills that may be introduced to give effect to the recommendations of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s report Same Sex: Same Entitlements, dated May 2007, also be referred to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee for inquiry and report together with the following matters:

(i) the definition of ‘couple relationship’, (ii) empirical evidence from the states concerning the existence, recognition and relative numbers of interdependent relationships, other than de facto (whether heterosexual or same-sex) and marital relationships, (iii) whether the definition of ‘couple relationship’ should be amended to incorporate other interdependent relationships and, if so, whether the definitions should be broadened to include those relationships or whether a separate definition is required, (iv) the fiscal implications of the statutory recognition of other interdependent relationships for superannuation and taxation purposes, (v) the definitions of ‘child’ and ‘child of a couple relationship’, (vi) the legal and fiscal implications of the definitions referred to in (v), particularly as they relate to the rights, obligations and liabilities of co-parents (i.e., the parent in a couple relationship that does not have a biological connection to a child of that relationship), and (vii) all other matters considered necessary by the committee.

(2) That the committee is to report on 30 September 2008 or after the consideration of any related bills mentioned in paragraph (1)(b), whichever is the sooner.

(3) That the committee must hear evidence, inter alia, from: (a) the Attorney-General’s Department; (b) the Department of Finance and Deregulation; (c) the Relationship Registries of Tasmania, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory; (d) the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission; and (e) the Law Council of Australia (Family Law Section).

Background to the bill

The Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws—Superannuation) Bill 2008 is part of a wider reform that seeks to end discriminatory treatment of same-sex couples under Commonwealth laws. It was introduced in response to the Same Sex: Same Entitlements report by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission ('HREOC').(Read more about the bill in its bills digest (304 KB). )

The bill amends fourteen Acts in relation to Commonwealth superannuation and pension schemes to ensure that same-sex partners and their children are able to access reversionary superannuation benefits upon the death of a scheme member and in related taxation treatment of superannuation benefits.(Read more about the bill, including its explanatory memorandum, here.)

References

Yes No Passed by a small majority

18th Jun 2008, 11:13 AM – Senate Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws - Superannuation) Bill 2008 - Referral to Committees - Report by 24 June 2008

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The majority voted against a motion moved by Senators Andrew Bartlett and Kerry Nettle, which means that it was unsuccessful.

The motion would have amended earlier motion no. 1 introduced by Liberal Senator Chris Ellison, which was:

(1) That: (a) the Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws—Superannuation) Bill 2008 be referred to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee for inquiry and report; and (b) any related bill or bills that may be introduced to give effect to the recommendations of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s report Same Sex: Same Entitlements, dated May 2007, also be referred to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee for inquiry and report together with the following matters: (i) the definition of ‘couple relationship’, (ii) empirical evidence from the states concerning the existence, recognition and relative numbers of interdependent relationships, other than de facto (whether heterosexual or same-sex) and marital relationships, (iii) whether the definition of ‘couple relationship’ should be amended to incorporate other interdependent relationships and, if so, whether the definitions should be broadened to include those relationships or whether a separate definition is required, (iv) the fiscal implications of the statutory recognition of other interdependent relationships for superannuation and taxation purposes, (v) the definitions of ‘child’ and ‘child of a couple relationship’, (vi) the legal and fiscal implications of the definitions referred to in (v), particularly as they relate to the rights, obligations and liabilities of co-parents (i.e., the parent in a couple relationship that does not have a biological connection to a child of that relationship), and (vii) all other matters considered necessary by the committee.

(2) That the committee is not to conclude its consideration of the matter contained in subparagraph (1)(a) until it has concluded its consideration of the matters in subparagraph (1)(b).

(3) That the committee must hear evidence, inter alia, from: (a) the Attorney-General’s Department; (b) the Department of Finance and Deregulation; (c) the Relationship Registries of Tasmania, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory; (d) the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission; and (e) the Law Council of Australia (Family Law Section).

Senator Bartlett and Senator Nettle's unsuccessful motion was the following:(Read Senator Bartlett's explanation of their motion here. )

(1) At the end of subparagraph (1)(a), add “by June 24, 2008”.

(2) Omit paragraph (2).

Background to the bill

The Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws—Superannuation) Bill 2008 is part of a wider reform that seeks to end discriminatory treatment of same-sex couples under Commonwealth laws. It was introduced in response to the Same Sex: Same Entitlements report by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission ('HREOC').(Read more about the bill in its bills digest (304 KB). )

The bill amends fourteen Acts in relation to Commonwealth superannuation and pension schemes to ensure that same-sex partners and their children are able to access reversionary superannuation benefits upon the death of a scheme member and in related taxation treatment of superannuation benefits.(Read more about the bill, including its explanatory memorandum, here.)

References

No Yes Not passed by a small majority

18th Sep 2007, 6:07 PM – Senate Tax Laws Amendment (2007 Measures No. 4) Bill 2007 and others - In Committee - Remove discrimination

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The majority voted against Democrats amendments (1) and (2), which means they failed.

The amendments related to definitions of the words "de facto relationship" and "beneficiary relationship" to remove discrimination against same-sex couples. Australian Democrats Senator Andrew Murray explained that:

The amendments I refer to arise directly from, and are closely aligned to, the precise and detailed recommendations of the May 2007 Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission report Same-sex: same entitlements [2.5MB]. That was a national inquiry into discrimination against people in same-sex relationships—their financial and work related entitlements and benefits. This is the first tax bill that I could put these amendments to.

Amendments text

(1) Schedule 5, page 98 (after line 17), before item 27, insert:

26A Subsection 10(2)

Insert:

de facto relationship means a relationship between two people living together as a couple on a genuine domestic basis, where the relationship is not a marital relationship:

(a) in determining whether two people are in a de facto relationship, the circumstances of the relationship must be considered as a whole. Without limiting the generality of this paragraph, those circumstances may include:

(i) the length of their relationship;

(ii) how long and under what circumstances they have lived together;

(iii) whether there is a sexual relationship between them;

(iv) their degree of financial dependence or interdependence, and any arrangements for financial support, between or by them;

(v) the ownership, use and acquisition of their property, including any property that they own individually;

(vi) their degree of mutual commitment to a shared life;

(vii) whether they mutually care for and support children;

(viii) the performance of household duties;

(ix) the reputation, and public aspects, of the relationship between them;

(x) the existence of a statutory declaration signed by both persons stating that they regard themselves to be in a de facto relationship with the other person;

(b) a de facto relationship may be between two people of the same gender.

Note: A person in a marital relationship is taken to be legally married - see subsection 8A(2) of the Superannuation Act 1976.

(2) Schedule 7, page 112 (after line 26), after item 65, insert:

65A Subsection 995-1

Insert:

beneficiary relationship for the purposes of this Act, a person had a beneficiary relationship with another person at a particular time if the person has a marital or de facto relationship with the person and ordinarily lived with that other person on a permanent and bona fide domestic basis at that time.

65B Subsection 995-1(1)

Insert:

de facto relationship means a relationship between two people living together as a couple on a genuine domestic basis, where the relationship is not a marital relationship:

(a) in determining whether two people are in a de facto relationship, the circumstances of the relationship must be considered as a whole. Without limiting the generality of this paragraph, those circumstances may include:

(i) the length of their relationship;

(ii) how long and under what circumstances they have lived together;

(iii) whether there is a sexual relationship between them;

(iv) their degree of financial dependence or interdependence, and any arrangements for financial support, between or by them;

(v) the ownership, use and acquisition of their property, including any property that they own individually;

(vi) their degree of mutual commitment to a shared life;

(vii) whether they mutually care for and support children;

(viii) the performance of household duties;

(ix) the reputation, and public aspects, of the relationship between them;

(x) the existence of a statutory declaration signed by both persons stating that they regard themselves to be in a de facto relationship with the other person;

(b) a de facto relationship may be between two people of the same gender;

(c) to avoid doubt, two people may still be in a de facto relationship if they are living apart from each other on a temporary basis.

65C Subsection 995-1(1)

At the end of the definition of spouse, add “and includes a person who is in a beneficiary relationship”.

No Yes (strong) Not 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 1 0 50
MP absent 0 0 0
Less important votes (10 points)      
MP voted with policy 0 0 0
MP voted against policy 3 0 30
Less important absentees (2 points)      
MP absent* 0 0 0
Total: 0 80

*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 / 80 = 0.0%.

And then