2000 Redistribution of the Northern Territory into two electoral divisions - Final Report - Part 2

Updated: 7 December 2007

2.1 Reasons for the proposed redistribution of the Northern Territory

Direction for a redistribution of Northern Territory Electoral Divisions

  1. Section 59(1) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (the Act) provides that a Redistribution of a State into Divisions shall commence whenever the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) so directs by notice published in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette (the Gazette).
  2. On 9 December 1999, in accordance with sections 46 and 48 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, the Electoral Commissioner determined that, as a result of population changes between the States and Territories, the Northern Territory will be entitled to 2 members of the House of Representatives at the next general election. The Northern Territory currently has one member.
  3. A notice advising that a redistribution was to commence in the Northern Territory was published in the Gazette of 2 February 2000.

Appointment of the Redistribution Committee for the Northern Territory

  1. In accordance with Section 60 of the Act, the AEC appointed the Redistribution Committee for the Northern Territory on 3 February 2000.
  2. The Redistribution Committee consists of the following members:
    Redistribution Committee
    Electoral Commissioner Mr Andy Becker
    Australian Electoral Officer for the Northern Territory Mr Paul Anderson (A/g)
    Surveyor-General of the Northern Territory Mr Trevor Menzies
    Auditor-General of the Northern Territory Mr Iain Summers
  3. The Committee held its first meeting on 21 March 2000.

Invitation to submit Suggestions and Comments

  1. In accordance with Section 64 of the Act, the Electoral Commissioner invited written Suggestions and written Comments on those Suggestions by notice published in the Gazette and the Northern Territory News of 2 February 2000, and in the Centralian Advocate of 4 February 2000.
  2. At the closing date for submissions on 3 March 2000, Suggestions had been received from:
    • K W West
    • John Daniel Encel
    • NT Country Liberal Party
    • Senator the Hon Grant Tambling
    • Australian Labor Party (Northern Territory Branch)
  3. The period during which Comments could be made on these Suggestions closed on 17 March 2000 and at that date Comments were received from:
    • Tiwi Land Council
    • NT Country Liberal Party
    • Shire of Christmas Island
    • Australian Labor Party (Northern Territory Branch)

Statutory requirements for the making of a proposed redistribution

  1. Section 66(1) of the Act requires the Redistribution Committee for the Northern Territory to make a proposed redistribution of the State.
  2. Sections 66(3) and 66(3A) of the Act prescribe that:

    (3) In making the proposed redistribution, the Redistribution Committee:

    1. shall, as far as practicable, endeavour to ensure that, if the State or Territory were redistributed in accordance with the proposed redistribution, the number of electors enrolled in each Electoral Division in the State or Territory would not, at the projection time determined under section 63A, be less than 96.5% or more than 103.5% of the average divisional enrolment of that State or Territory at that time; and
    2. subject to paragraph (a), shall give due consideration, in relation to each proposed Electoral Division, to:
      1. community of interests within the proposed Electoral Division, including economic, social and regional interests;
      2. means of communication and travel within the proposed Electoral Division;
      1. the physical features and area of the proposed Electoral Division; and
      2. the boundaries of existing Divisions in the State or Territory;
      and subject thereto the quota of electors for the State or Territory shall be the basis for the proposed redistribution, and the Redistribution Committee may adopt a margin of allowance, to be used whenever necessary, but in no case shall the quota be departed from to a greater extent than one-tenth more or one-tenth less.

    (3A) When applying subsection (3), the Redistribution Committee must treat the matter in subparagraph (3)(b)(v) as subordinate to the matters in subparagraphs (3)(b)(i), (ii) and (iv).

Impact of the 1998 Amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act

  1. The 1998 Amendments to the Act had the following effects on the making of a redistribution:
    • Introducing provision for the AEC to alter the projection time in which to achieve equality of enrolment when a further redistribution is expected before the usual seven years.
    • Altering the time for striking the quota to the commencement of the redistribution process.
    • Altering the tolerance to be applied in achieving equality of electors at the projection time.
    • Requiring that consideration of the boundaries of existing Divisions be subordinate to the other criteria to be applied in the redistribution.

Quota

  1. At the end of 23 December 1999, the day of direction by the AEC that the Redistribution must commence, the number of electors enrolled for the Territory was 109 977.
  2. Under Section 65(2) of the Act, the Electoral Commissioner determined that the quota of electors for the Northern Territory was 54 989 (109 977 divided by 2). Thus, the permitted range of the margin of allowance of 10% below and above the quota would be 49 491 to 60 487 respectively. In making its proposal, the Redistribution Committee is not permitted to exceed that range.

Enrolment projections

  1. Section 66(3)(a) of the Act requires the Committee to "as far as practicable, endeavour to ensure that, if the State or Territory were redistributed in accordance with the proposed redistribution, the number of electors enrolled in each Electoral Division in the State or Territory would not, at the projection time determined under section 63A, be less than 96.5% or more than 103.5% of the average divisional enrolment of that State or Territory at that time".
  2. To assist the Committee, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) supplied enrolment projections to the AEC using AEC enrolment data as the base, and used a cohort-component method to project enrolment of each Census Collection District (CCD) to 31 March 2004. The Divisional Returning Officer (DRO) for the Division of the Northern Territory was asked to examine the ABS projections in the light of his local knowledge and experience, and to substitute his own projections where appropriate. The DRO made use of information supplied by relevant local authority planning and statistical groups, as well as his own resources in undertaking this task. The Australian Electoral Officer for the Northern Territory also reviewed the projections, and any changes made by the DRO.
  3. The projections were available in both hard copy and on floppy disk to persons or organisations interested in using them as an indication of the likely growth and as an aid to the preparation of Suggestions or Comments.
  4. The projected total enrolment for the Northern Territory at 31 March 2004 is 123 673. Thus, the average enrolment of the 2 Divisions at that time would be 61 837 and the 3.5% tolerance below and above that average required that Divisions be constructed in the range between 59 673 and 64 001.

Community of interests, means of communication and travel, physical features and area, and boundaries of existing Divisions

  1. The criteria set out in section 66(3)(b) of the Act – community of interests, means of communication and travel, physical features and area, and boundaries of existing Divisions – are subservient to the two objectives of enrolments in proposed Divisions being within a range of 3.5% above or below the average divisional enrolment at the projection time, and current enrolments being within 10% above or below the quota. However, notwithstanding these overriding constraints, the Committee sought to ensure that the other criteria were given maximum possible effect. Within the constraints necessarily imposed by the numerical and other criteria, the Committee adopted the view that it is highly desirable that electoral boundaries be readily identifiable, both to individual electors and to the wider community. Accordingly, in developing this redistribution proposal, the Committee has utilised, wherever practicable, Northern Territory Legislative Assembly electoral boundaries – these boundaries being readily identifiable, having been defined by reference to registered property boundaries, roads, waterways and other linear topographic features.

Suggestions and Comments

  1. When the period for the receipt of suggestions closed on 3 March 2000, the Committee had received five suggestions. Copies of the suggestions were made available for perusal at the office of the Australian Electoral Officer for the Northern Territory in Darwin from 6 to 17 March 2000. Copies of suggestions were sent to the Shire Councils on Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands. In addition, photocopies were made available to members of the public.
  2. The Committee received four written comments relating to the suggestions by the close of the comments period on 17 March 2000.
  3. One of the suggestions confined itself to proposing names for the two Divisions. The other four suggestions focussed on how to divide the Northern Territory into two electoral Divisions and also suggested names. Three of the suggestions proposed, with minor variations, an urban Division in Darwin and a rural and remote Division comprising the remainder of the Northern Territory. The remaining suggestion proposed an East/West divide, broadly along the Stuart Highway.
  4. Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands currently form part of the Division of the Northern Territory. Of the five public suggestions, two suggested that Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands should not form part of either Division. One of these suggested that, if the Islands were to be included in the Northern Territory, it should not be in a Darwin-based urban Division. Another suggestion addressing this issue indicated no preference as to which Division the Islands should be included with but that it was appropriate they formed part of the Northern Territory for electoral purposes. The remaining two submissions did not mention this issue.
  5. The Shire of Christmas Island commented to the effect that the redistribution was not of particular concern to Christmas Islanders but that they found the suggestion to have the Indian Ocean Territories as part of the ACT for electoral purposes abhorrent.
  6. The provision by the AEC of current and projected enrolment figures to interested parties facilitated the process, as most suggestions took account of the numerical criteria set down in the Act, although the community of interest criteria was consistently given greater weight than the other Section 66(3)(b) criteria, by most respondents.
  7. As required by section 64(4) of the Act, the Redistribution Committee considered all of the suggestions and the comments.

Names of proposed Divisions

  1. Naming of Federal Divisions has been the subject of a number of recommendations from Parliamentary Committees. The subject was dealt with most recently by the 1995 Inquiry of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters. From these recommendations there has developed a set of guidelines or conventions that have been used by Redistribution Committees. These guidelines were offered to interested persons in the advertising of this Redistribution.
  2. The Committee received a broad range of suggested names – 149 in total with all five public submissions suggesting names. It should be noted that 145 names were suggested by people throughout the Northern Territory who responded to a householder leaflet distributed by the Member for the Northern Territory. The responses were forwarded to the Redistribution Committee as part of the Australian Labor Party's public submission. The Member for the Northern Territory also formed a "naming committee" to consider names submitted as a response to the householder leaflet. The recommendations of the "naming committee" were contained in the Australian Labor Party's comments on public submissions.
  3. The Committee considered the names submitted and proposes that the Divisions be named "SOLOMON" and "LINGIARI".
  4. The proposed Division of Solomon is named after Vaiben Louis Solomon (1853–1908). Mr Solomon has been described as the Northern Territory's founding father of federation. Mr Solomon served as a member or Mayor of the Palmerston District Council for 17 years. In 1880 Mr Solomon was elected to the Territory seat in the South Australian House of Assembly. He held the seat until 1901 and again from 1905 until his death in 1908. Mr Solomon was an active member of the 1887 and 1898 Constitutional Conventions that led to the creation of the Commonwealth of Australia. Between 1901 and 1903 Mr Solomon was elected as one of the first Members of the House of Representatives as the member for the South Australian seat that included the Northern Territory.
  5. The proposed Division of Lingiari is named after Vincent Lingiari OAM (1908–1988). Mr Lingiari, a member of the Gurindji people from the Victoria River District, was a stockman and land rights leader who worked for many years to improve conditions for Aboriginal people working on cattle stations. In 1966 Mr Lingiari led a walk-off of about 200 Aboriginal stockmen and their families from the Wave Hill Station, which resulted in the establishment of an Aboriginal community at Wattie Creek. Mr Lingiari, as a representative of his people, sought a homeland for the Gurindji people. His efforts were rewarded in a land grant of 3 200 square kilometres, which included Wattie Creek, to the Gurindji people in 1975. Mr Lingiari was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for services to the Aboriginal people.

Technical procedures

  1. The Australian Electoral Commission maintains the electoral roll on the basis of alignment to CCDs, and thus is able to provide statistical data on enrolments and projected enrolments on this basis. Accordingly, in formulating its proposals, the Committee used the CCDs as its basic building block. The Northern Territory is divided into 339 whole or part CCDs as used at the 1996 Population Census. The CCDs each have defined boundaries and are of differing sizes and shapes. Where the Committee considered that a particular CCD boundary was inappropriate for an electoral Division boundary the CCD was split to provide a more useful boundary.
  2. As an aid to the rapid development and testing of various boundary options, the Committee used the AEC Electoral Boundary Mapping System (EBMS) which was developed within the proprietary "MapInfo" software package. EBMS was also made available for public use.

General strategy

  1. Overall the Northern Territory is experiencing moderate levels of growth. The Darwin CBD and adjoining suburbs, Palmerston and some rural areas close to Darwin have the highest growth rates. Most of the remainder of the Northern Territory is projected to have growth rates at or below the Territory average.
  2. Following an examination of the broad trends, and mindful of the suggestions and comments received, and the criteria laid down in Section 66 of the Act, the Committee chose to achieve the redistribution of the Northern Territory from one to two electoral divisions by way of proposing the creation of an urban division centred on Darwin and the creation of a second Division incorporating the remainder of the Northern Territory and the Indian Ocean Territories.
  3. The suggestion that the Northern Territory be divided into Eastern and Western Divisions broadly using the Stuart Highway as a boundary was not supported by the Redistribution Committee. The Committee was of the view that this suggestion did not meet, in particular, the community of interest criteria and agreed that, if this suggestion was adopted, many community of interest groups would effectively be split into two parts. The proposed redistribution provides for the retention, in the Redistribution Committee's view, of a much greater level of community of interest overall and also maintains regional areas in their entirety.
  4. The boundaries of each proposed Electoral Division are shown on the enclosed map.
REDISTRIBUTION COMMITTEE FOR THE NORTHERN TERRITORY
Andy Becker Paul Anderson Trevor Menzies Iain Summers
Presiding Member Member

Darwin
April 2000