Research Report 4 - Australian Federal Redistributions 1901-2003 - What is a redistribution?

Updated: 30 May 2013

What is a redistribution?

In Australia, an integral part of the federal electoral process is the periodic examination, and revision where necessary, of the electoral boundaries used to elect members of the House of Representatives. This examination and revision is called a redistribution. In a number of other countries the redistribution process is called redistricting. This particular report is about Commonwealth Parliamentary Electoral Provisions that have been used in Australia since Federation in 1901.

The Australian method of conducting a federal redistribution examines both mathematical formulae and community of interest issues. The current legislation, the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (the Act) provides that Electoral boundaries are redrawn with the objective that in three years and six months time after the redistribution, the number of electors in each division in a State or Territory will vary by no more than 3.5% from the then average divisional enrolment for that State or Territory. Second at the time of the redistribution is completed no more than a 10% deviation above or below the agreed enrolment quota for each electorate is allowed. The criteria used to determine this are explained in this paper.