Fact Sheet D3

Fact Sheet D3: Speaker's Casting Vote

 

Summary: At the end of a debate on a motion, members vote whether to agree to it. If the votes are equal, the Speaker casts a vote to break the tie. This is the only time the Speaker votes. The Speaker decides how to vote, usually following the practice of the United Kingdom's House of Commons. The Speaker may give reasons for his or her decision.

 

Casting vote only used after a tied vote Speaker decides how to vote
Speaker's power to vote Voting on bills altering the Constitution

 

Casting vote only used after a tied vote

In the Legislative Assembly, all decisions are made by members voting in the Chamber. The Chair states the question to be decided, and members respond by saying 'aye' or 'no'. The Chair announces whether they feel the majority voted for the 'ayes' or for the 'noes'.

A member can challenge the Chair's opinion, and ask for a division. The Clerk switches on bells which ring throughout Parliament House. This lets members know a division will happen, and gives them time to get to the Chamber. Each member in the Chamber must then vote, see Fact Sheet D2: Divisions.

If the votes for the 'ayes' and 'noes' are equal, the Speaker has a casting vote.

Speaker's power to vote

The only time the Speaker can vote is when the division is tied. The Speaker's authority comes from the Constitution.

Also, Legislative Assembly standing orders (rules) confirm the Speaker has a casting vote. They also say that, if the Speaker gives reasons for his or her vote, we list these reasons in the Votes and Proceedings.

Speaker decides how to vote

The Speaker decides whether to vote 'aye' or 'no'. Neither the Constitution nor standing orders guide the Speaker. Therefore, Speakers often follow the practice of the United Kingdom's House of Commons.

Vote for more debate

The Speaker votes for more debate when possible. For example, at the second reading stage of a bill, the Speaker votes 'aye'. This means the bill goes to the next stage, and members can continue debate.

Vote against bill at final stage

If the Legislative Assembly has finished all debate on a bill, the Speaker votes against it. The reasoning is only a majority of members should be able to change the law.

In the Assembly, the third reading stage is the last chance for members to debate a bill. On a vote at this stage, the Speaker votes 'no'.

Vote against amendments

The Speaker votes not to change a bill. This means the Speaker votes against an amendment to a bill's text.

Voting on bills altering the Constitution

Some bills must be passed by an absolute majority of members, see Fact Sheet D4: Altering Victoria's Constitution. In the Legislative Assembly an absolute majority means 45 out of the 88 members agreeing to the third reading of a bill.

The Speaker only casts a vote when a division is tied. As the Speaker does not vote in a division, the highest equal number of votes is 43:43. Even with a casting vote, the total only increases to 44, one short of the absolute majority needed. A casting vote therefore does not help obtain an absolute majority.

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