What happens if the votes are tied in the House of Representatives and in the Senate?

The President of the Senate sits in a large red chair. In front of him, the Clerks sit at a table with books on it.

The President of the Senate.

David Foote/DPS Auspic

The President of the Senate.

The President of the Senate sits in a large red chair. In front of him, the Clerks sit at a table with books on it.

David Foote/DPS Auspic

Description

The President of the Senate sits in a large red chair. There is another chair to the right. In front of the President, the Clerk and Deputy Clerk sit at a table with books on it.

In both the Senate and House of Representatives, if a vote is tied it is a ‘no’ vote. This is because the Australian Constitution says that votes that votes shall be agreed by more than half of the members voting. Without a majority voting ‘yes’, the question is defeated.

Section 23 of the Constitution requires all senators – including the President of the Senate –to vote. This makes sure each state is equally represented. It also means a tied vote immediately fails, as the President has already voted and cannot resolve a tie.

Section 40 of the Australian Constitution says that the Speaker of the House of Representatives will only vote if there is a tie. This is called a casting vote. Traditionally, the Speaker votes ‘yes’ if the question will allow the House to continue debate but votes 'no' if the question is to make a decision or a change.