Redistribution of the Australian Capital Territory into electoral divisions

Updated: 8 February 2016

Chapter 2 - The augmented Electoral Commission’s redistribution and reasons for the redistribution

This chapter outlines the augmented Electoral Commission’s redistribution and the reasons for this redistribution. Also included is the augmented Electoral Commission’s approach to formulating the boundaries and names of electoral divisions.

Augmented Electoral Commission’s redistribution of the Australian Capital Territory

  1. The augmented Electoral Commission was required to redistribute the Australian Capital Territory into two electoral divisions.
  2. There are two components to the augmented Electoral Commission’s redistribution:
    • where to draw the boundaries between the two electoral divisions in the Australian Capital Territory, and
    • the names of the two electoral divisions.
  3. The augmented Electoral Commission decided to adopt the proposal of the Redistribution Committee, as outlined in Proposed redistribution of the Australian Capital Territory into electoral divisions, without change.
  4. The external boundary of the two electoral divisions is the Australian Capital Territory/New South Wales border. The boundary between the two electoral divisions starts from the point at which the Murrumbidgee River intersects the western territory/state border, continuing along the Murrumbidgee River as it turns into the Molonglo River up until the point it meets the north-western border of the District of Molonglo Valley.
  5. The boundary then follows the north-western border of the District of Molonglo Valley to William Hovell Drive, where it continues east along this road to the intersection of William Hovell Drive and Caswell Drive. From this intersection, the boundary encompasses Black Mountain Reserve by continuing north along Caswell Drive to the intersection of Belconnen Way, at which point the boundary heads in an east/south-easterly direction along Belconnen Way and Barry Drive to the point at which Barry Drive intersects Frith Road. The boundary proceeds east along Frith Road to the intersection with Dryandra Street. The boundary proceeds in a south-easterly direction along Dryandra Street to the intersection of David Street, where it proceeds along David Street until it meets Sullivans Creek. The boundary then follows Sullivans Creek in a south-easterly direction to the northern boundary of Haig Park.
  6. The boundary continues along the northern side of Haig Park along Greenway Street and Henty Street to Limestone Avenue. From this junction, the boundary proceeds in a south-easterly direction along Limestone Avenue to the border of the suburb of Campbell.
  7. The boundary proceeds in a north-eastern and then south-eastern direction along the borders of the suburb of Campbell to the point at which it intersects with Fairbairn Avenue. From this point, the boundary follows Fairbairn Avenue to the point at which it intersects with Pialligo Avenue. The boundary follows Pialligo Avenue in an east/south-easterly direction until the intersection with Yass Road. It then follows Yass Road in a south-easterly direction until it meets the territory/state border.
  8. The two electoral divisions in the Australian Capital Territory are therefore:
    • the Division of Canberra, encompassing the area of the Australian Capital Territory to the south of the Molonglo River, Lake Burley Griffin and the Murrumbidgee River, and areas immediately adjacent to the northern shore of Lake Burley Griffin and portions of the inner north, and
    • the Division of Fenner, encompassing the remaining portion of the Australian Capital Territory and the Jervis Bay Territory.

Augmented Electoral Commission’s approach to formulating electoral boundaries

  1. In deciding whether to amend the Redistribution Committee’s proposal to incorporate an idea advocated in an objection, comment on objection or submission to the inquiry, the augmented Electoral Commission was mindful of whether the amendment would improve on the Redistribution Committee’s proposal. As the augmented Electoral Commission’s formulation of electoral divisions must conform to the requirements of the Electoral Act, potential amendments were also analysed with respect to the requirements of sub-section 73(4) of the Electoral Act.
  2. The primary requirement was to ensure each electoral division remains within the permissible maximum and minimum number of electors around the projected enrolment quota (see Table B) and the current enrolment quota (see Table A). In modifying the boundaries of either electoral division proposed by the Redistribution Committee, the augmented Electoral Commission was therefore required to ensure that both electoral divisions continued to fall within the permissible ranges for the maximum and minimum number of electors in an electoral division.
  3. Similarly, when considering adjusting the boundary of an electoral division to better reflect one community of interest, the augmented Electoral Commission observed that such an adjustment could prompt concerns about one or more different communities of interest.

Adjusting the boundaries of existing electoral divisions

  1. In constructing their proposal, the Redistribution Committee considered it would result in electoral divisions which:
    • could accommodate ongoing growth in the north of the Australian Capital Territory, while allowing for future growth in the south,
    • maintained the existing community of interest between Braddon and City,
    • used strong boundaries of major roads where possible, and
    • was consistent with suggestions and comments made by interested individuals to the redistribution process.14
  2. The augmented Electoral Commission considered the Redistribution Committee’s proposal and agreed with what was proposed. Where an alternative to the Redistribution Committee’s proposal was advocated, the augmented Electoral Commission considered whether modifications should be made to address the alternative. The following paragraphs outline the augmented Electoral Commission’s decision with respect to each alternative offered.

The location of the suburb of Turner

  1. The Redistribution Committee proposed allocating the suburb of Turner across the two electoral divisions with that part of the suburb situated to the south of Sullivans Creek and Greenway Street located in the proposed Division of Canberra and the part situated to the north located in the proposed Division of Fenner.
  2. Objections concerned whether Turner, as a community of interest, should be united in one electoral division and where the boundary should be positioned.15
  3. The augmented Electoral Commission noted the Redistribution Committee’s proposal was based on community of interest concerns. Adoption of an alternative could prompt concerns regarding different communities of interest and would require further adjustments to ensure the two ranges permitted by the Electoral Act for the maximum and minimum number of electors in an electoral division continued to be met. The augmented Electoral Commission considered sufficiently strong arguments in favour of altering the proposed boundary had not been made.
  4. The augmented Electoral Commission therefore concluded the Redistribution Committee’s proposal should stand unchanged and the suburb of Turner would be allocated across the Divisions of Canberra and Fenner.

The location of the suburb of Braddon

  1. The Redistribution Committee proposed allocating the suburb of Braddon across the two electoral divisions with that part of the suburb situated to the south of Henty Street located in the proposed Division of Canberra and the part situated to the north located in the proposed Division of Fenner.
  2. Objections concerned whether the suburb of Braddon, as a community of interest, should be united in one electoral division and where the boundary should be positioned.16
  3. The augmented Electoral Commission noted that the Redistribution Committee’s proposal was based on community of interest concerns, specifically maintenance of the existing community of interest between Braddon and City.17 Adoption of an alternative could prompt different communities of interest concerns and would require further adjustments to ensure the two ranges permitted by the Electoral Act for the maximum and minimum number of electors in an electoral division continued to be met. The augmented Electoral Commission considered sufficiently strong arguments in favour of altering the proposed boundaries had not been made.
  4. The augmented Electoral Commission therefore concluded the Redistribution Committee’s proposal should stand unchanged and the suburb of Braddon would be allocated across the Divisions of Canberra and Fenner.

The location of the Jervis Bay Territory

  1. In making this redistribution, the augmented Electoral Commission noted sub-section 73(5) of the Electoral Act requires the whole of the Jervis Bay Territory to be included in one electoral division of the Australian Capital Territory.
  2. The Redistribution Committee proposed locating the Jervis Bay Territory in the proposed Division of Fenner.
  3. One objection was received advocating the Jervis Bay Territory should instead be aligned with the national capital and therefore located in the proposed Division of Canberra.18
  4. The adoption of the proposal to transfer the Jervis Bay Territory to the proposed Division of Canberra would require the AEC to transfer Norfolk Island electors enrolled for the Division of Canberra to the Division of Fenner as the Electoral Act does not currently allow these two groups of electors to be enrolled in the same electoral division.19 The augmented Electoral Commission noted the number of Norfolk Island electors enrolled in the Division of Canberra is similar to the number of electors enrolled in the Jervis Bay Territory. As such, the impact of making this change on the two ranges permitted by the Electoral Act for the maximum and minimum number of electors in an electoral division would be negligible, but a greater impact would be made on electors located in the Jervis Bay Territory and Norfolk Island who would be moved to a different electoral division.
  5. Further, the augmented Electoral Commission observed the Jervis Bay Territory is closer in proximity to the Division of Fenner than to the Division of Canberra.
  6. The augmented Electoral Commission therefore concluded the Redistribution Committee’s proposal should stand unchanged and the Jervis Bay Territory should be located in the Division of Fenner.

The proposed division in which the electors south of Pialligo Avenue should be located

  1. The Redistribution Committee proposed the eastern boundary between the two divisions should follow Pialligo Avenue in an east/south-easterly direction until the intersection with Yass Road, and then follow Yass Road in a south-easterly direction until it meets the territory/state border.
  2. One objection reflected the view that the electors located to the south of Pialligo Avenue appeared to be cut off from the rest of the proposed Division of Canberra and should therefore be located in the proposed Division of Fenner. An alternative boundary to enable this was also presented.20
  3. The augmented Electoral Commission observed:
    • a strong community of interest, specifically economic, existed in this area, and
    • an alteration of the boundary would see electors resident in this area only able to interact with their electoral division by travelling through another electoral division.
  4. The augmented Electoral Commission therefore concluded the Redistribution Committee’s proposal should stand unchanged with those electors residing south of Pialligo Avenue located in the Division of Canberra.

The location of the suburbs on the south side of Belconnen

  1. The Redistribution Committee proposed the suburbs on the south side of Belconnen should be located in the proposed Division of Fenner.
  2. One objection noted that the Redistribution Committee’s proposed electoral divisions would result in the current Member for Fraser’s electorate office being located in the proposed Division of Canberra. The objection therefore advocated moving the suburbs on the south side of Belconnen into the proposed Division of Canberra as an alternative to moving the inner north suburbs. This would enable the suburb of Braddon, and therefore the electorate office, to be located in the proposed Division of Fenner in its entirety.21
  3. The augmented Electoral Commission observed that the imprecise nature of the information contained presented some difficulties in considering implementation of this objection. Adopting the alternative could prompt further community of interest concerns, and could result in the two electoral divisions falling outside the two ranges permitted by the Electoral Act for the maximum and minimum number of electors in an electoral division.
  4. The augmented Electoral Commission therefore concluded the Redistribution Committee’s proposal should stand unchanged with the suburbs on the south side of Belconnen located in the Division of Fenner.

Movement of electors between electoral divisions

  1. The Redistribution Committee noted that, as the electoral divisions in existence at the start of the redistribution did not satisfy the range permitted by the Electoral Act for the maximum and minimum number of projected electors in an electoral division at the projection time, it was necessary to alter the boundary between the two electoral divisions until both of the ranges permitted by the Electoral Act for the maximum and minimum number of electors in an electoral division were met.22
  2. The augmented Electoral Commission was also obligated to place the boundary between the two electoral divisions such that the two ranges permitted by the Electoral Act would be met. As the augmented Electoral Commission adopted the Redistribution Committee’s proposal without amendment, the extent of elector movements between electoral divisions is unchanged from that proposed by the Redistribution Committee.23
  3. Table E outlines the extent of elector movements resulting from the augmented Electoral Commission’s redistribution.
Table E: Summary of movement of electors between electoral divisions
  Number Percentage
Electors remaining in their electoral division 259 398 96.21%
Electors transferred to another electoral division 10 226 3.79%
Total 269 624 100.00%

Augmented Electoral Commission’s approach to naming electoral divisions

  1. The naming of federal electoral divisions has been the subject of a number of recommendations from parliamentary committees. The ‘Guidelines for naming federal electoral divisions’ (the guidelines) were developed by the AEC from recommendations made by the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters in 1995 in its Report on the Effectiveness and Appropriateness of the Redistribution Provisions of Parts III and IV of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. The guidelines were offered to interested persons when this redistribution was advertised, and are publicly available on the AEC website (see Appendix K).

Renaming the proposed Division of Canberra

  1. The Redistribution Committee proposed retaining the name of the Division of Canberra. As noted in its report Proposed redistribution of the Australian Capital Territory into electoral divisions, the Redistribution Committee was divided on the question as to whether there were very strong reasons to change the name of the Division of Canberra.24
  2. Objections to the proposed redistribution, comments on objections and submissions made to the inquiry supported retaining the name of the electoral division or advocated changing it.25 The alternative names offered are displayed in Table F.
Table F: Names offered in objections and comments on objections as alternatives to those proposed by the Redistribution Committee
Name proposed by the Redistribution Committee Offered alternative name
Canberra Fenner – in honour of Professor Frank Fenner AC CMG MBE FAA FRS FRACP FRCP, eminent scientist of national and international renown who made significant contributions to improving the wellbeing of humanity (1914–2010)
Whitlam – in honour of the former Prime Minister, the Hon. Edward Gough Whitlam AC QC (1916–2014)
Fenner Churcher – in honour of Betty Churcher AO, arts director and educator, painter, television host and author (1931–2015)
Florey – in honour of Baron Howard Walter Florey OM FRS FRCP, the pathologist (1898–1968)
Fraser – in honour of James Fraser, the former Member for the Australian Capital Territory in the House of Representatives (1908–70)
Fraser – co-named in honour of both the former member for the Australian Capital Territory, James Fraser (1908–70), and the former Prime Minister, the Rt Hon. John Malcolm Fraser AC CH (1930–2015)
Nott – in honour of Dr Lewis Windermere Nott, the first Member for the Australian Capital Territory in the House of Representatives (1888–1951)
Whitlam – in honour of the former Prime Minister, the Hon. Edward Gough Whitlam AC QC (1916–2014)
  1. As was the case for the Redistribution Committee,26 the augmented Electoral Commission was attentive to the guidelines and the material presented to it for consideration. The augmented Electoral Commission noted:
    • the Redistribution Committee proposed renaming the Division of Fraser as ‘Fenner’,27 and
    • the Redistribution Committee for New South Wales proposed renaming an electoral division in New South Wales as ‘Whitlam’ in honour of the former Prime Minister.28
  2. While one member of the augmented Electoral Commission was open to changing the name of the Division of Canberra, all members of the augmented Electoral Commission agreed that while the alternative names offered had merit as the name of an electoral division, the arguments offered in support of renaming the proposed Division of Canberra were not substantive enough to warrant change at this time.
  3. The augmented Electoral Commission therefore concluded the Redistribution Commission’s proposal should stand and the electoral division will continue to be known as the Division of Canberra.

Renaming the proposed Division of Fenner

  1. The Redistribution Committee unanimously proposed renaming 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.
  2. The Redistribution Committee did not make this proposal lightly, noting that the guidelines advise that the names of electoral divisions should not be changed or transferred to new areas without very strong reasons. In reaching their decision, the Redistribution Committee made the following points:
    • it was mindful of the suggestions and comments on suggestions which proposed altering the name of the Division of Fraser to enable the name ‘Fraser’ to be used as the name of a Victorian federal electoral division in honour of the former Prime Minister, the Rt Hon. John Malcolm Fraser AC CH, in the future,29
    • the guidelines note that consideration should be given to naming electoral divisions after former Prime Ministers, and
    • by renaming the Division of Fraser located in the Australian Capital Territory, the option becomes available to future Redistribution Committees to name an electoral division after the former Prime Minister.30 31
  3. Strong feelings about the name of this electoral division were expressed by many of those who made objections to the proposed redistribution, commented on objections or made submissions to the inquiry, falling into the following categories:
    • support for the Redistribution Committee’s proposal to rename the electoral division to the Division of Fenner,32
    • advocating the electoral division not be re-named and should continue to be known as the Division of Fraser in honour of James Fraser, the former Member for the Australian Capital Territory in the House of Representatives,33
    • advocating the electoral division not be re-named but should instead be known as the Division of Fraser in honour of both James Fraser, the former Member for the Australian Capital Territory in the House of Representatives, and the former Prime Minister, the Rt Hon. John Malcolm Fraser AC CH,34 or
    • support to rename the electoral division, but advocating for a different name,35 as indicated in Table F.
  4. At the commencement of this redistribution on Monday 1 December 2014, this electoral division was known as the Division of Fraser. The electoral division was named after James Fraser who was the second member of the House of Representatives for the Australian Capital Territory, serving from 1951 until his death in 1970. A Division of Fraser has existed in the Australian Capital Territory since the creation of two electoral divisions in 1974.
  5. The guidelines note consideration should be given to naming electoral divisions after former Prime Ministers. The augmented Electoral Commission considers that as Mr Malcolm Fraser was a member of the House of Representatives for a Victorian electoral division for more than 26 years,36 the most appropriate location for an electoral division named after Mr Malcolm Fraser would be in Victoria. To enable this to occur, the augmented Electoral Commission decided to retire the name ‘Fraser’. The augmented Electoral Commission noted the significant achievements of James Fraser are reflected in the naming of an Australian Capital Territory suburb in his honour and his inclusion in the ACT Honour Walk.37
  6. The augmented Electoral Commission decided it was not appropriate to co-name the electoral division as ‘Fraser’. While a number of electoral divisions have been named to honour more than one person,38 this has generally occurred at the time the electoral division was named rather than occurring retrospectively.
  7. The augmented Electoral Commission noted the contribution to Australian society of those individuals submitted for its consideration and the general relevance of all names submitted as potential names of electoral divisions, but did not consider the arguments made in support of renaming the proposed Division of Fenner were substantive enough to warrant change.
  8. As such, the augmented Electoral Commission concluded the Redistribution Commission’s proposal should stand and the electoral division will be known as the Division of Fenner.

Redistribution of the Australian Capital Territory – by electoral division

  1. For each of the electoral divisions in the Australian Capital Territory, Table G presents:
    • enrolment as at Monday 1 December 2014,
    • percentage variation from the current enrolment quota,
    • projected enrolment as at Sunday 28 July 2019,
    • percentage variation from the projected enrolment quota, and
    • the approximate area of each electoral division.
Table G: Summary of electoral divisions
Electoral division Enrolment as at Monday 1 December 2014 Projected enrolment as at Sunday 28 July 2019 Approximate area
Number Percentage variation from the current enrolment quota Number Percentage variation from the projected enrolment quota
Canberra 138 233 2.54% 146 643 1.52% 1 967.24km2
Fenner 131 391 -2.54% 142 251 -1.52% 458.50km2
Total 269 624 288 894 2 425.74km2
  1. Statistical summaries of the electoral divisions are provided in Appendix L.

  1. Redistribution Committee for the Australian Capital Territory, op. cit., page 4–5
  2. Objections which referred to this matter: O2 – James Eveille; O16 – Tom Anderson; O18 – Dr Mark Mulcair; and O28 – ACT Labor. Comments on objections which referred to this matter: COB1 – Dr Mark Mulcair; and COB2 – Darren McSweeney. I1 – Martin Gordon referred to this matter.
  3. Objections which referred to this matter: O2 – James Eveille; O16 – Tom Anderson; O18 – Dr Mark Mulcair; and O28 – ACT Labor. Comments on objections which referred to this matter: COB1 – Dr Mark Mulcair; and COB2 – Darren McSweeney. I1 – Martin Gordon referred to this matter.
  4. Redistribution Committee for the Australian Capital Territory, op. cit., page 4
  5. O22 – Darren McSweeney advocated this change. I1 – Martin Gordon referred to this matter.
  6. Under the Electoral Act, it is not compulsory for Norfolk Islanders who are Australian citizens to enrol to vote. Should they chose to enrol, sub-section 95AA(2) of the Electoral Act establishes a hierarchy of the electoral divisions for which they may enrol.
    Sub-section 95AA(3) provides that where none of these apply, enrolment can occur for an electoral division that does not include territory from outside the Australian Capital Territory or the Northern Territory. At the commencement of this redistribution, Norfolk Islanders could enrol for the Division of Canberra as the Division of Fraser included the Jervis Bay Territory.
  7. O18 – Dr Mark Mulcair advocated this change. I1 – Martin Gordon referred to this matter.
  8. O2 – James Eveille advocated this change. COB2 – Darren McSweeney and I1 – Martin Gordon referred to this matter.
  9. Redistribution Committee for the Australian Capital Territory, op. cit., page 16–17
  10. ibid., page 23
  11. ibid., page 24–25
  12. Objections which referred to the name of the proposed Division of Canberra: O2 – James Eveille; O4 – Roger Bacon; O5 – Gary Potts; O17 – Martin Gordon; O18 – Mark Mulcair; O19 – Tim Cooke; O22 – Daren McSweeney; O23 – Catherine Brown; O24 – Andrew Fraser; and O29 – David Wedgwood. COB1 – Dr Mark Mulcair, COB3 – Martin Gordon, COB5 – David Wedgwood; I1 – Martin Gordon, I2 – Malcolm Mackerras, I3 – Dr David Nott, I4 – David Wedgwood and I6 – Arno Mikli refer to the name of this electoral division.
  13. Redistribution Committee for the Australian Capital Territory, op. cit., page 24–25
  14. ibid., page 25–26
  15. Redistribution Committee for New South Wales, Proposed redistribution of New South Wales into electoral divisions, October 2015, page 26
  16. Changing the name of the Division of Fraser was advocated in: S2 – Michael Hedger; S4 – Jeff Waddell; S5 – Warrick Gzric;
    S6 – Mark Mulcair; S7 – Darren McSweeney; CS1 – Mark Mulcair.
  17. The most recent redistribution of electoral divisions in Victoria was determined on 24 December 2010. This means that, in accordance with paragraph 59(2)(c) of the Electoral Act, a redistribution of electoral divisions in Victoria would be required to commence within 30 days of 24 December 2017.
  18. Redistribution Committee for the Australian Capital Territory, op. cit., page 25–26
  19. Support for naming the electoral division ‘Fenner’ is to be found in: O10 – Professor Ian Young AO; O18 – Dr Mark Mulcair;
    O19 – Tim Cooke; COB1 – Dr Mark Mulcair; and I2 – Malcolm Mackerras.
  20. Support for naming the division in honour of James Fraser is to be found in: O1 – Robyn Bergin; O2 – James Eveille; O3 – Geoffrey Robertson; O5 – Gary Potts; O6 – John Clowry; O8 – Jon Stanhope; O9 – Canberra and District Historical Society Inc; O11 – Harry Burkett; O12 – Judith Thompson; O13 – Steve Whan; O14 – Carol Keil; O15 – Jack Pennington OAM; O16 – Tom Anderson; O20 – Lin Enright; O21 – Denis Robinson; O23 – Catherine Brown; O25 – Peter Edwards; O27 – Arno Mikli; I3 – Dr David Nott and I5 – Anne Forrest.
  21. Co–naming the electoral division was advocated in: O1 – Robyn Bergin; O17 – Martin Gordon; O29 – David Wedgwood; COB3 – Martin Gordon; COB5 – David Wedgwood; I1 – Martin Gordon; I4 – David Wedgwood and I6 – Arno Mikli.
  22. Alternative division names were offered by: O24 – Andrew Fraser; O28 – ACT Labor; O22 – Darren McSweeney; O26 – Brian Cox; O27 – Arno Mikli; COB4 – Brian Cox; I3 – Dr David Nott; I4 – David Wedgwood; and I7 – Andrew Fraser.
  23. Mr Malcolm Fraser was the Member for Wannon from 10 December 1955 until his resignation on 31 March 1983.
  24. The suburb name ‘Fraser’ was gazetted on 15 January 1974. Mr Fraser was included in the first ceremony in 2005 for the ACT Honour Walk.
  25. Electoral divisions have been co-named in honour of couples and families. Of the 150 electoral divisions in existence at the commencement of this redistribution, electoral divisions named in honour of more than one person are: Durack, Hasluck, Lyons and Macarthur. There is some conjecture as to whether the Division of Paterson is co-named.