Proposed redistribution of the Australian Capital Territory into electoral divisions

Updated: 4 September 2015

Executive summary

This report provides the Redistribution Committee for the Australian Capital Territory’s (the Redistribution Committee) proposed redistribution of the Australian Capital Territory into two electoral divisions.

The Redistribution Committee proposes:

  • altering the boundaries of both electoral divisions in the Australian Capital Territory, and
  • altering the name of one of the electoral divisions in the Australian Capital Territory.

Background

A redistribution is a redrawing of electoral boundaries 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.

The Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (the Electoral Act) indicates when a redistribution is to be conducted and the processes and timelines to be following in doing so, including how and when public consultation is to occur.

A redistribution of electoral divisions in the Australian Capital Territory was required as more than seven years have elapsed since the last redistribution was determined.

The redistribution process commenced with a direction from the Electoral Commission on Monday 1 December 2014. A notice published in the Commonwealth Government Notices Gazette (the Gazette) on Wednesday 29 April 2015 and in The Canberra Timesand in The Weekend Australian on Saturday 2 May 2015 invited interested individuals and parties to make written suggestions and written comments on suggestions relating to the redistribution. Eight suggestions were made available for public perusal on Monday 1 June, with two written comments on suggestions also made available on Monday 15 June.

In developing its proposal, the Redistribution Committee carefully considered all matters in each of these suggestions and comments on suggestions. The redistribution proposal has been informed by these matters, and complies with all relevant provisions of the Electoral Act.

Proposed redistribution

The redistribution proposal covers:

  • where to draw the boundary between the two proposed electoral divisions, and
  • the names of the two proposed electoral divisions.

Boundaries of proposed electoral divisions

In making its proposed redistribution, the Electoral Act requires the Redistribution Committee to ensure that enrolment numbers for each proposed electoral division remain within both current and projected enrolment parameters.

At the end of Monday 1 December 2014, the day on which the redistribution commenced, 269 624 electors were enrolled in the Australian Capital Territory. The current enrolment quota was therefore 134 812. As the Electoral Act requires proposed electoral divisions to be within plus or minus 10 per cent of this quota, the Redistribution Committee was required to construct electoral divisions which contain between 121 330 and 148 293 electors.

The Redistribution Committee is also required to ensure that the number of electors in each proposed electoral division will be within 3.5 per cent of the projected enrolment quota at the projection time of Sunday 28 July 2019. As the number of electors projected to be enrolled in the Australian Capital Territory at this time is 288 894 and the projected enrolment quota is 144 447, the Redistribution Committee was required to construct electoral divisions which are projected to contain between 139 391 and 149 503 electors on Sunday 28 July 2019.

While the Australian Capital Territory’s entitlement to members of the House of Representatives remains at two, the Redistribution Committee was required to alter the divisional boundaries as neither electoral division fell within the acceptable numerical range for projected electors as at Sunday 28 July 2019. As a consequence, the Redistribution Committee was obligated to alter the current divisional boundaries until this requirement could be met.

In moving the area immediately adjacent to the northern shore of Lake Burley Griffin, together with portions of the inner north, into the Division of Canberra, the Redistribution Committee sought to redraw the boundaries such that electors from the division with high projected enrolment supplemented the division which had to grow to satisfy the numerical requirements of the Electoral Act. In doing this, the Redistribution Committee was mindful to consider:

  • community of interests in the proposed electoral divisions,
  • means of communication and travel in the proposed electoral divisions, and
  • the physical features and area of the proposed electoral divisions.

The Redistribution Committee considers the proposed redistribution of the Australian Capital Territory will result in electoral divisions which:

  • can accommodate ongoing growth in the north of the Australian Capital Territory, while allowing for future growth in the south,
  • maintains the existing community of interest between Braddon and City, and
  • uses strong boundaries of major roads where possible.

This proposal is also consistent with:

  • the five suggestions and one comment on suggestions which proposed changing the electoral divisions and boundaries to include the City area in the Division of Canberra, and
  • parts of the four suggestions which proposed incorporating all or part of the suburbs or districts of Acton, Braddon, Campbell, Molonglo Valley, Reid and Turner into the Division of Canberra.

Naming of electoral divisions

Seven of the eight suggestions, together with the two comments on suggestions received, advocated changing the name of one or both of the current electoral divisions. Consideration was given by the Redistribution Committee as to whether there were very strong reasons to change the name of the current electoral divisions, in accordance with the ‘Guidelines for naming federal electoral divisions’ (the guidelines, which are contained in Appendix G of this report).

With respect to the Division of Canberra, the Redistribution Committee was divided on this question, with two members considering there were strong reasons to change the name and two members considering there were not. The question was resolved after the presiding member, being one who considered there were not strong reasons to change, made a casting vote, thus resulting in the Division of Canberra retaining its current name. This was respected by all members of the Redistribution Committee as being due process. While this is the case, the name proposed for the Division of Canberra by those who considered there were very strong reasons to change was ‘Churcher’ in recognition of Betty Churcher AO.

The Redistribution Committee was unanimous in its proposal to rename the Division of Fraser to 'Fenner', in honour and recognition of the contribution of the distinguished scientist Professor Frank Fenner AC, CMG, MBE, FAA, FRS, FRACP, FRCP. Professor Fenner was a renowned virologist whose major achievements, the eradication of smallpox, control of Australia’s rabbit plague through the use of the myxoma virus and his work on malaria in Papua New Guinea, have helped reduce human suffering.

The Redistribution Committee’s proposed electoral division names have been offered for the reasons set out in Chapter 2 of this report.

Elector movements

Overall, 10 226 electors enrolled in the Australian Capital Territory (or 3.79 per cent of all electors enrolled in the Australian Capital Territory on Monday 1 December 2014) will change their federal electoral division as a result of the proposed redistribution.