Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament
On 1 September 2016 the Coalition Government lost three divisions on the floor of the House of Representatives: one motion to adjourn; one motion on closure of debate; and an amendment requiring the House to consider a message from the Senate immediately. Prior to this, the last time a majority Government lost a division in the House was in 1962. In the 43rd hung Parliament (2010-13), the minority ALP Government lost many divisions, mostly on procedural matters and private members’ motions.
The votes lost by the Government in 1962 were as follows:
A closure motion on 21 August 1962
A closure motion on 3 October 1962
Opposition’s dissent from Chairman’s ruling on 27 November 1962 and
An Opposition amendment to the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Bill 1962 on 5 December 1962.
More broadly, the House of Representatives Practice notes that ‘[a]lthough it has been claimed that the loss of control of the business of the House is a matter over which Governments should resign, the loss of a vote on such an issue is not necessarily fatal for a Government’.
On 11 November 1975 five votes were lost by the newly-commissioned caretaker government. These were motions to adjourn, to suspend standing orders, to close the debate (twice) and a want of confidence motion moved by former Prime Minister Whitlam.