Redistribution of the Australian Capital Territory into electoral divisions

Updated: 8 February 2016

Chapter 1 - Background and context

This chapter outlines the legislative requirements of the redistribution from the release of the Redistribution Committee’s proposed redistribution to the determination of the names and boundaries of electoral divisions by the augmented Electoral Commission.

  1. A redistribution of electoral divisions is the process where electoral divisions and their boundaries and names are reviewed, and may be altered, to ensure, as near as practicable:
    • each state and territory gains representation in the House of Representatives in proportion to its population, and
    • there are a similar number of electors in each electoral division for a given state or territory.

Compliance with legislative requirements

  1. The Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (the Electoral Act) specifies that a redistribution process should be undertaken when:
    • the number of members of the House of Representatives to which a state or territory is entitled has changed (relative population change)
    • the number of electors in more than one-third of the electoral divisions in a state (or one of the electoral divisions in the Australian Capital Territory or the Northern Territory) deviates from the average divisional enrolment by over ten per cent for a period of more than two months, or
    • a period of seven years has elapsed since the last redistribution process was determined.1
  2. The procedures to be followed in conducting a redistribution process are also specified in the Electoral Act. Appendix A summarises the legislative requirements which have been followed in conducting this redistribution. Each of these requirements is discussed in further detail in this Chapter.

Background to this redistribution

  1. The steps followed from the commencement of the redistribution of the Australian Capital Territory to the release of the Redistribution Committee’s proposed redistribution are outlined in Chapter 1 of the Redistribution Committee’s report: Proposed redistribution of the Australian Capital Territory into electoral divisions.2

Requirement to conduct a redistribution of electoral divisions in the Australian Capital Territory and commencement

  1. A redistribution of the Australian Capital Territory was originally due to commence in December 2012, however it was deferred on two occasions.3 On Thursday 13 November 2014, the then acting Electoral Commissioner made a determination under sub-section 48(1) of the Electoral Act of the number of members of the House of Representatives each state and territory would be entitled to at the next general election.4
  2. As a result of this determination, the Australian Capital Territory’s entitlement remained at two members of the House of Representatives.
  3. In accordance with sub-section 59(1) of the Electoral Act, the Electoral Commission published a notice in the Commonwealth Government Notices Gazette (the Gazette) on Monday 1 December 2014 directing that a redistribution of the Australian Capital Territory into two electoral divisions commence.

Current enrolment quota

  1. Section 65 of the Electoral Act requires the Electoral Commissioner, as soon as practicable after the redistribution process commences, to determine the current enrolment quota using the following formula:

Number of electors enrolled in the Australian Capital Territory as at the end of the day on which the redistribution commenced (Monday 1 December 2014)


Number of members of the House of Representatives to which the Australian Capital Territory is entitled

  1. In calculating this quota, sub-section 65(2) of the Electoral Act provides that:
    • where the result is less than 0.5, the number is rounded down to the nearest whole number, or
    • where the result is equal to or greater than 0.5, the number is rounded up to the nearest whole number.
  2. Table A shows the figures used to calculate the current enrolment quota and the resultant range of the permissible maximum and minimum number of electors in an electoral division (discussed further in the section titled ‘Statutory requirements for the making of a redistribution’).
Table A: Current enrolment quota and permissible range for the Australian Capital Territory
Number of electors enrolled in the Australian Capital Territory as at the end of the day on which the redistribution commenced (Monday 1 December 2014) 269 624
Number of members of the House of Representatives to which the Australian Capital Territory is entitled 2
Current enrolment quota for the Australian Capital Territory 134 812
Permissible maximum number of electors in an electoral division
(current enrolment quota + 10 per cent)
148 293
Permissible minimum number of electors in an electoral division
(current enrolment quota – 10 per cent)
121 330
  1. The then acting Electoral Commissioner signed a written instrument on Monday 8 December 2014, as required by sub-section 65(1) of the Electoral Act, determining the quota of electors for the purposes of the redistribution to be 134 812.
  2. As part of the redistribution process, the augmented Electoral Commission is required to ensure the number of electors in an electoral division does not vary by more than or less than 10 per cent from the current enrolment quota (see Appendix B).

Enrolment projections and projected enrolment quota

  1. When determining a redistribution, the augmented Electoral Commission is required by paragraph 73(4)(a) of the Electoral Act to ensure, as far as practicable, the number of electors enrolled in an electoral division at the projection time will not vary by more than or less than 3.5 per cent of the projected enrolment quota. The projected enrolment quota is calculated using the following formula:

Estimated total number of electors enrolled in the Australian Capital Territory at the projection time (Sunday 28 July 2019)


Number of members of the House of Representatives to which the Australian Capital Territory is entitled

  1. Table B shows the figures used to calculate the projected enrolment quota and the resultant range of the permissible maximum and minimum number of electors in an electoral division at the projection time (discussed further in the section titled ‘Statutory requirements for the making of a redistribution’).
Table B: Projected enrolment quota and permissible range for the Australian Capital Territory
Estimated total number of electors enrolled in the Australian Capital Territory at the projection time (Sunday 28 July 2019) 288 894
Number of members of the House of Representatives to which the Australian Capital Territory is entitled 2
Projected enrolment quota for the Australian Capital Territory 144 447
Permissible maximum number of electors in an electoral division at the projection time (projected enrolment quota + 3.5 per cent) 149 503
Permissible minimum number of electors in an electoral division at the projection time (projected enrolment quota – 3.5 per cent) 139 391

Release of proposed redistribution of the Australian Capital Territory

  1. Sub-section 66(1) of the Electoral Act requires the Redistribution Committee to make a proposed redistribution, with section 67 requiring that written reasons for the proposed redistribution be provided.
  2. In its report Proposed redistribution of the Australian Capital Territory into electoral divisions, the Redistribution Committee outlined its proposed redistribution of the Australian Capital Territory and in Chapter 2 explained the reasons behind its proposal.5 On Friday 11 September 2015, this report was made available on the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) website and in the AEC office located in the Australian Capital Territory.
  3. In addition, and as required by sub-section 68(1) of the Electoral Act, the following information was also made available at the AEC office in the Australian Capital Territory from Friday 11 September 2015:
    • maps showing the names and boundaries of each proposed electoral division in the Australian Capital Territory, and
    • copies of the 29 suggestions and five comments on suggestions made to the redistribution.

Invitation for interested parties to submit objections and comments on objections

  1. The Redistribution Committee is required by sub-sections 68(1) and (2) of the Electoral Act to draw attention to the redistribution material able to be viewed at AEC offices in the Australian Capital Territory and to invite written objections relating to the proposed redistribution of the Australian Capital Territory and written comments on objections via:
    • a notice published in the Gazette on a Friday
    • a notice published in two newspapers circulating throughout the Australian Capital Territory, and
    • notices published in such regional newspapers circulating in regions affected by the proposed redistribution as determined by the Redistribution Committee.
  2. The notice was published in the Gazette on Friday 11 September 2015. Newspaper notices were published in:
    • The Canberra Times and The Weekend Australian on Saturday 12 September 2015,
    • The Canberra Times on Wednesday 16 September and Saturday 19 September 2015,6 and
    • the South Coast Register on Wednesday 16 September 2015.7
  3. In accordance with section 68 of the Electoral Act, these notices included a brief outline of the proposed redistribution, where to view the proposed redistribution, how to participate in the process and where to find further information.8 As required by paragraph 68(1)(d), the notices published in The Canberra Times and the South Coast Register included maps showing the names and boundaries of each proposed electoral division in the Australian Capital Territory.
  4. Table C presents information on the options for making an objection or comment on an objection, and the extent to which these options were used.
Table C: Options to make an objection or comment on an objection
Options Objections Comments on an objection
Number Percentage Number Percentage
Form upload on AEC website 10 34.48% 3 60.00%
Email 14 48.28% 1 20.00%
Mail 3 10.34% 0 0.00%
Fax 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
In person 1 3.45% 1 20.00%
AEC online public inquiry tool 1 3.45% 0 0.00%
Total 29 100.00% 5 100.00%
  1. Interested parties were able to submit written objections from Friday 11 September 2015 until 6pm (AEDT) on Friday 9 October 2015, the 4th Friday after the publication of the Gazette notice.9 During this time, 29 objections were received by the Electoral Commission (see Appendix C).
  2. As required by sub-section 69(2) of the Electoral Act, copies of these objections were made available to members of the public for perusal at the office of the senior Divisional Returning Officer for the Australian Capital Territory in Canberra from Monday 12 October 2015, the 5th Monday after the publication of the Gazette notice. The objections were also made available on the AEC website from this date.
  3. Interested parties were able to submit written comments on objections received from Monday 12 October 2015 until 6pm (AEDT) on Friday 23 October 2015, the 6th Friday after the publication of the Gazette notice.10 During this time, five comments on objections were received by the Electoral Commission (see Appendix D).
  4. As required by sub-section 69(4) of the Electoral Act, copies of these comments on objections were made available to members of the public for perusal at the office of the senior Divisional Returning Officer for the Australian Capital Territory from Monday 26 October 2015, the 7th Monday after the publication of the Gazette notice. The comments on objections were also made available on the AEC website from this date.

Augmented Electoral Commission for the Australian Capital Territory

  1. Sub-section 70(1) of the Electoral Act specifies that, for the purposes of a redistribution of the Australian Capital Territory, there is established an augmented Electoral Commission for the Australian Capital Territory. The membership of the augmented Electoral Commission is specified by sub-section 70(2).
  2. The membership of the augmented Electoral Commission for the Australian Capital Territory is outlined in Table D.
Table D: Membership of the augmented Electoral Commission for the Australian Capital Territory
Position on the augmented Electoral Commission Name Basis for membership
Chairperson The Hon. Dennis Cowdroy OAM QC Chairperson of the Electoral Commission
Member Mr David Kalisch non-judicial member of the Electoral Commission
Member* Mr Tom Rogers Electoral Commissioner
Member* Mr Andrew Kristjanson Senior Divisional Returning Officer for the Australian Capital Territory
Member* Mr Jeff Brown Surveyor-General of the Australian Capital Territory
Member* Dr Maxine Cooper Australian Capital Territory Auditor-General

Note: * indicates the members of the Redistribution Committee for the Australian Capital Territory (chaired by Mr Rogers).11

  1. The augmented Electoral Commission met on:
    • Friday 30 October 2015, and
    • Monday 2 November 2015.

Consideration of objections and comments on objections by the augmented Electoral Commission

  1. The augmented Electoral Commission is required by sub-section 72(1) of the Electoral Act to consider all objections and comments on objections.
  2. In formulating its redistribution of the Australian Capital Territory, the augmented Electoral Commission considered each of the 29 objections and five comments on objections. The augmented Electoral Commission found the written submissions made throughout the redistribution process to be a valuable contribution and is appreciative of the time and effort expended by all those who contributed.
  3. Chapter 2 and Appendix E outline the key themes contained in these objections and comments on objections, and how the augmented Electoral Commission responded to them, having regard to the requirements of the Electoral Act.

Inquiry by the augmented Electoral Commission into objections

  1. Sub-section 72(3) of the Electoral Act requires the augmented Electoral Commission to hold an inquiry into an objection unless it is of the opinion:
    • the matters raised in the objection were raised, or are substantially the same as matters that were raised, in:
      • suggestions relating to the redistribution lodged with the Redistribution Committee; or
      • comments lodged with the Redistribution Committee; or
    • the objection is frivolous or vexatious.
  2. Analysis of the 29 objections to the proposed redistribution indicated the matters to be inquired
    into as:
    • the electoral division(s) in which the suburbs of Turner and Braddon were to be located
    • the electoral division in which Jervis Bay Territory was to be located
    • whether the electors located south of Pialligo Avenue should remain in the proposed Division of Canberra
    • whether the suburbs on the south side of Belconnen should be included in the proposed Division of Canberra
    • the name of the proposed Division of Fenner
    • the name of the proposed Division of Canberra.
  3. The manner in which inquiries into objections is to be conducted by the augmented Electoral Commission are specified in sub-sections 72(4) to 72(9) of the Electoral Act.
  4. The augmented Electoral Commission held one inquiry on Monday 28 November 2015 in Canberra.
  5. Invitations to attend the inquiry were sent to those who made objections to the proposed redistribution or commented on objections. A notice of invitation was placed in The Canberra Times on Saturday 24 October 2015 and in the South Coast Register on Wednesday 28 October 2015.
  6. Appendix G lists those who made submissions to the inquiry and a transcript is included with this report. The augmented Electoral Commission found the submissions presented by those participating at the inquiry to be a valuable contribution and is appreciative of the time and effort expended by all those who contributed.
  7. The augmented Electoral Commission’s response to the matters raised at the inquiry is summarised in Chapter 2 and Appendix E.

Conclusion of consideration of objections by the augmented Electoral Commission

  1. Sub-section 72(2) of the Electoral Act requires the augmented Electoral Commission to conclude its consideration of the objections before the expiration of 60 days after the close of comments on objections. As comments on objections closed on Friday 23 October 2015, the augmented Electoral Commission was required to conclude its consideration by Tuesday 22 December 2015.
  2. Consideration of objections by the augmented Electoral Commission was concluded on Monday 2 November 2015.

Statutory requirements for the making of a redistribution

  1. Section 73 of the Electoral Act requires the augmented Electoral Commission to adhere to specific criteria in determining boundaries of electoral divisions.
  2. The augmented Electoral Commission endeavoured to ensure the number of electors in each electoral division in the Australian Capital Territory would:
    • not be less than 90 per cent or more than 110 per cent of the current enrolment quota (see Table A for the permissible maximum and minimum number of electors at this time), and
    • not be less than 96.5 per cent or more than 103.5 per cent of the projected enrolment quota at the projection time of Sunday 28 July 2019 (see Table B for the permissible maximum and minimum number of electors at this time).
  3. The augmented Electoral Commission also gave due consideration to:
    • community of interests in the electoral divisions including economic, social and regional interests
    • means of communication and travel in the electoral division
    • the physical features and area of the electoral divisions, and
    • the boundaries of existing electoral divisions.
  4. Further detail regarding these requirements is in Appendix B.
  5. Appendix H outlines the mechanics of constructing the electoral divisions.

Public announcement by the augmented Electoral Commission

  1. Once its inquiries into objections are completed, sub-section 72(10) of the Electoral Act requires
    the augmented Electoral Commission to:
    • make a proposed redistribution of the territory, and
    • make a public announcement.
  2. While the augmented Electoral Commission is able to choose the means by which this public announcement is issued,12 sub-section 72(12) requires the following content:
    • the substance of the augmented Electoral Commission’s findings or conclusions on the initial objections to the Redistribution Committee’s proposed redistribution,
    • the augmented Electoral Commission’s proposed redistribution of the territory, and
    • a statement whether, in the opinion of the augmented Electoral Commission, its proposed redistribution is significantly different from the Redistribution Committee’s proposed redistribution.13
  3. The augmented Electoral Commission did not consider their proposed redistribution to be significantly different to that of the Redistribution Committee. The text of the augmented Electoral Commission’s public announcement, which was made on Tuesday 24 November 2015, is at Appendix I.

Determination made by the augmented Electoral Commission for the Australian Capital Territory

  1. In accordance with sub-section 73(1) of the Electoral Act, the names and boundaries of electoral divisions for a territory are determined when the augmented Electoral Commission publishes a notice in the Gazette.
  2. The text of the notice published in the Gazette on Thursday 28 January 2016 is at Appendix J.

  1. Sub-section 59(2) of the Electoral Act specifies when a redistribution process should be undertaken.
  2. Redistribution Committee for the Australian Capital Territory, Proposed redistribution of the Australian Capital Territory into electoral divisions, September 2015, page 6–13
  3. ibid., page 6–7
  4. A copy of this determination is available on the AEC website.
  5. Redistribution Committee for the Australian Capital Territory, op. cit., page18–27
  6. The notice on Saturday 19 September 2015 was published as compensation for printing errors which appeared in the notice in The Canberra Times on Saturday 12 September 2015.
  7. The South Coast Register is published on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and covers the Jervis Bay Territory.
  8. A disc included in Proposed redistribution of the Australian Capital Territory into electoral divisions provided the material which sub-section 68(1) of the Electoral Act specifies is to be made available at each office of the AEC in the territory undergoing redistribution.
  9. This requirement is specified by paragraph 68(2)(a) of the Electoral Act.
  10. This requirement is specified by paragraph 68(2)(b) of the Electoral Act.
  11. The Redistribution Committee for the Australian Capital Territory differs to the redistribution committees for all other states and territories due to the absence of an Australian Electoral Officer for the Australian Capital Territory at any time other than an election. Instead, the Electoral Act provides that, for the purposes of the redistribution, the Electoral Commission must determine in writing which of the Divisional Returning Officers in the Australian Capital Territory will be the senior Divisional Returning Officer.
    Paragraph 60(7A)(b) of the Electoral Act provides for references to ‘the Australian Electoral Officer for the State’ to be read as a reference to ‘the senior Divisional Returning Officer for the Australian Capital Territory’.
  12. Paragraph 72(10)(b) of the Electoral Act states the announcement may be made by a statement to the media or by other expeditious means.
  13. In the event the augmented Electoral Commission considers their proposed redistribution to be significantly different to that of the Redistribution Committee, paragraph 72(12)(d) specifies the inclusion of additional information in the public announcement.