The media and others were plainly wrong to inform the population that the government needed only one ‘yes’ vote from one of the nine Independent senators, in order for the government to succeed in its proposal in the Senate to amend the procurement legislation.
The government was seeking a simple majority for its proposal. In that case, from the moment the first abstention on the final vote occurred, the government was home and dry—even if all the Opposition Senators and the remaining eight of the nine Independents voted against the proposal.
According to the constitution, in order to secure a simple majority in either House of Parliament the proposer requires the support of ‘the majority of the votes of the members thereof present and voting’.
An abstention is neither a vote for or against a motion requiring a simple majority. It is separately counted and reported on to the presiding officer. It is not tallied among either the yes or no votes. In the instant case in the Senate, an abstention therefore had the same effect as a yes vote.
There are other reasons why criticising Senator Dr Maria Dillon-Remy for her ‘yes’ vote in colourful language and by meme is not acceptable, but the causation for passage of the government’s amendment to the procurement legislation cannot be her action alone. The abstentions of her colleagues on the independent bench did the trick for the government.
Please, Senator Dillon-Remy, stay strong and courageous in your convictions. Brush aside the abuse you have suffered. It is motivated by ignorance of the requirements of a simple majority vote, which are expressly different from the requirements of a special majority vote.