The Australian Constitution gives the House of Representatives the power to make and change its own operating rules, called standing orders. These rules outline how the work of the House is managed each day. For example, the standing orders detail the steps, including the votes, a bill (proposed law) needs to go through before it is passed by the House.
The Constitution and the standing orders do not specify how a member of the House should vote on matters before the chamber; rather, it is up to each member to decide how they will vote. However, parliamentary parties usually vote together as a team, and in the same way. During a division, or counted vote, in the House, members of parliament sit on the right of the Speaker to vote yes and to the left to vote no. If a parliamentary party member decides to vote differently to their team, they walk across the chamber to vote against their party. This is called crossing the floor, and is something that rarely happens. A conscience vote, or free vote, means that members of parliament are not obliged to vote with their party; instead, they can vote according to their own beliefs. Each parliamentary party decides if its members are allowed a conscience vote on a particular issue.