A redistribution of federal electoral boundaries will be undertaken in Queensland and South Australia (SA) this year. This edition of Electoral Newsfile examines the redistribution process.
The Electoral Commissioner has announced that, as a result of changes in population, the Parliamentary representation entitlements of Queensland, South Australia (SA) and the Northern Territory (NT) will change.
The Electoral Commissioner made the determination of the number of representatives to which each State and Territory is entitled on 19 February 2003, based on figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and other sources. These figures confirmed that Queensland will gain an extra seat in the House of Representatives whilst South Australia and the Northern Territory will each lose one seat.
The Australian Electoral Commission met on 12 March 2003, to direct the commencement of redistributions in Queensland and South Australia. The Northern Territory will not undergo redistribution as it reverts to being a single electoral division as a result of the determination made on 19 February 2003. Notice of the redistributions in Queensland and South Australia was published in the Commonwealth Gazette on 12 March 2003.
The determination was made by dividing the total population figure for all the States, excluding the Territories, by twice the number of Senators for the States to obtain a quota. Each State and Territory population was then divided by the quota, rounding the result to the nearest whole number to determine the entitlement (see below for detailed explanation of the calculations).
The determination of representation entitlements was made under sections 46 and 48 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (CEA) which require the Electoral Commissioner to ascertain the population of the Commonwealth and the States and Territories during the thirteenth month after the first meeting of the newly elected House of Representatives and to then determine each State and Territory's representation entitlements at the next general election.
Changes to entitlements in a State or Territory trigger a redistribution of electoral boundaries.
A Redistribution Committee for a State consists of the Electoral Commissioner, the Australian Electoral Officer for the State, the Surveyor-General (or equivalent) for the State and the State Auditor-General. If the Surveyor General or Auditor General are not available, their deputies or, failing that, senior officers of the Australian Public Service from that State are appointed.
There are three triggers as defined in the CEA (s.59) that can cause a redistribution to be held. A redistribution is held:
When were redistributions last held? Redistributions were last held in:
Queensland – 10 December 1997
South Australia – 20 August 1999
After the redistribution commences the Electoral Commissioner invites public suggestions as to how the new boundaries should be drawn and suggested names of the electoral Divisions. Following this period the suggestions are available for public comment for a further 14 days. The Redistribution Committee then develops a redistribution proposal and publishes and exhibits maps showing proposed boundaries and names. The public then has 28 days to lodge objections to the proposals.
An augmented Electoral Commission for a State or a Territory then has 60 days in which to consider the objections (including initial and any further objections). The augmented Electoral Commission for a State or Territory consists of the members of the Redistribution Committee for that State or Territory, plus the Chairperson of the Australian Electoral Commission and the non-Judicial Commissioner (the Australian Statistician).
If the augmented Electoral Commission proposes to set boundaries that are significantly different from those proposed by the Redistribution Committee, further objections may be lodged. The augmented Electoral Commission may hold public hearings to consider objections before making a final determination of boundaries and names of the electoral divisions.
In developing its proposal, a Redistribution Committee must take into consideration:
Boundaries are drawn with the aim that three and a half years after the redistribution, the enrolment in each electoral Division should not vary from the State or Territory average by more than three and a half percent.
The new boundaries do not come into effect until the next general election. Any by-election held prior to the next general election would be conducted on existing boundaries.
If a general election is called before the redistribution has been completed a mini-redistribution must be held. This takes place as follows:
Where a State or Territory is entitled to one more Member than the number of existing Divisions, the two adjacent Divisions with the highest combined enrolment are split into three Divisions. The newly-created Division is given a hyphenated name, a combination of the names of the two Divisions from which it was created.
For example, if Brisbane and Griffith had the highest combined enrolment in Queensland, the newly created Division would be called Brisbane-Griffith.
Similarly, when a State or Territory is entitled to one less Member than it has Divisions, the pair of adjacent Divisions with the lowest combined enrolment will be redistributed to create one Division where there had been two. The name of the newly-created Division would be a combination of the two Divisional names. For example, if Hindmarsh and Port Adelaide had the lowest combined enrolment in South Australia, the newly created Division would be called Hindmarsh-Port Adelaide.
The quota is calculated by dividing the number of people of the Commonwealth by twice the number of Senators for the States:
19 205 190
72 x 2 = 144 = 133 369.375
|State/Territory1||Number of people|
|New South Wales||6 657 478|
|Victoria||4 888 243|
|Queensland||3 729 123|
|Western Australia||1 934 508|
|South Australia||1 522 467|
|The Commonwealth2||19 205 190|
|The Australian Capital Territory3||322 871|
|Northern Territory4||199 760|
The number of Members of the House of Representatives to be chosen in each State and Territory is determined by dividing the number of people in each State and Territory by the quota, and rounding the result to the nearest whole number.
|State/Territory||Quota||Number of members to be chosen||Change|
|New South Wales||49.9176||50|
|Australian Capital Territory||2.4209||2|
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Information, Education & Research
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Australian Electoral Officer
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Dr Christopher Drury
Australian Electoral Officer
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Australian Electoral Officer
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