Redistribution of the Australian Capital Territory into electoral divisions

Updated: 8 February 2016

Executive summary

This report outlines the augmented Electoral Commission for the Australian Capital Territory’s (the augmented Electoral Commission’s) redistribution of the Australian Capital Territory into two electoral divisions.

The augmented Electoral Commission has adopted all elements of the Redistribution Committee for the Australian Capital Territory’s (Redistribution Committee) proposed redistribution.

The Division of Canberra encompasses:

  • all of the Australian Capital Territory located to the south of the Murrumbidgee River, Lake Burley Griffin and the Molonglo River,
  • Acton, Black Mountain Nature Reserve, Campbell, City, Reid and Russell,
  • the parts of Barton and Parkes situated to the north of Lake Burley Griffin,
  • the part of the District of Molonglo Valley situated to the north of the Molonglo River and Lake Burley Griffin, and
  • parts of Braddon, Turner, Pialligo and the District of Majura.

The Division of Fenner, named in honour of the distinguished scientist Professor Frank Fenner AC CMG MBE FAA FRS FRACP FRCP, encompasses the remainder of the Australian Capital Territory and the Jervis Bay Territory.

Background

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.

The Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (the Electoral Act) provides for when a redistribution is to be conducted and the processes and timelines to be followed 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 Australian Capital Territory remains entitled to two members of the House of Representatives.

The redistribution process commenced with a direction from the Electoral Commission on Monday 1 December 2014.

The Redistribution Committee released its proposed redistribution on Friday 11 September 2015. Interested individuals and parties were invited to make written objections on the proposed redistribution and written comments on objections via notices published in:

  • the Commonwealth Government Notices Gazette (the Gazette) on Friday 11 September 2015,
  • The Canberra Times and The Weekend Australian on Saturday 12 September 2015,
  • The Canberra Times on Wednesday 16 September and Saturday 19 September 2015, and
  • the South Coast Register on Wednesday 16 September 2015.

Twenty-nine objections were made available for public perusal on Monday 12 October 2015, with five written comments on objections made available from Monday 26 October 2015. An inquiry into objections was held on Monday 2 November 2015 in Canberra at which seven oral submissions were made.

The augmented Electoral Commission found the written submissions made throughout the redistribution process, together with the submissions presented by those participating in the inquiry, to be a valuable contribution and is appreciative of the time and effort expended by all those who contributed. The redistribution has been informed by a thorough consideration of these submissions, and complies with all relevant provisions of the Electoral Act.

Redistribution of the Australian Capital Territory

The redistribution covers:

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

Boundaries of electoral divisions

In determining the boundaries of electoral divisions in a territory, the Electoral Act requires the augmented Electoral Commission to ensure the enrolment numbers for each electoral division remain within the two ranges of the permissible maximum and minimum number of electors in an electoral division.

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 electoral divisions to be within plus or minus 10 per cent of this quota, the augmented Electoral Commission was required to construct electoral divisions which contain between 121 330 and 148 293 electors.

The augmented Electoral Commission is also required to ensure that the number of electors in each 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 augmented Electoral Commission 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 augmented Electoral Commission was required to alter the divisional boundaries as neither electoral division fell within the range for the permissible maximum and minimum number of projected electors as at Sunday 28 July 2019. As a consequence, the augmented Electoral Commission was obligated to alter the existing divisional boundaries until this requirement could be met.

The augmented Electoral Commission noted that the Redistribution Committee’s proposal met the requirements of the Electoral Act and provided electoral divisions that accommodated future growth while recognising and maintaining communities of interest and using strong boundaries where possible. Further, the augmented Electoral Commission noted the Redistribution Committee’s proposal was consistent with the suggestions and comments on suggestions received.

In the augmented Electoral Commission’s opinion, the objections to the proposed redistribution, comments on objections and submissions to the inquiry did not improve on the proposed redistribution. The augmented Electoral Commission therefore agreed to implement the Redistribution Committee’s proposal:

  • the Division of Canberra encompasses 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 encompasses the remaining portion of the Australian Capital Territory and the Jervis Bay Territory.

Naming of electoral divisions

The Redistribution Committee proposed retaining the name of the Division of Canberra and renaming the Division of Fraser as ‘Fenner’ in recognition of Professor Frank Fenner AC CMG MBE FAA FRS FRACP FRCP. Professor Fenner was an eminent scientist of national and international renown who made significant contributions to improving the wellbeing of humanity.

The name of one or both electoral divisions was raised in all of the objections to the proposed redistribution and comments on objections received.

The augmented Electoral Commission unanimously agreed the arguments offered in support of renaming the proposed Division of Canberra were not substantive enough to warrant change from the Redistribution Committee’s proposal and the electoral division will continue to be known as the Division of Canberra. However, one member of the augmented Electoral Commission was open to changing the name of the electoral division.

The ‘Guidelines for naming federal electoral divisions’ note that consideration should be given to naming electoral divisions after former Prime Ministers. The augmented Electoral Commission considers the most appropriate location for an electoral division named after the former Prime Minister, the Rt Hon. John Malcolm Fraser AC CH, would be Victoria. To provide an option for this to occur in the future, the augmented Electoral Commission decided to retire the name ‘Fraser’ in the Australian Capital Territory.

The augmented Electoral Commission unanimously agreed the arguments against renaming the proposed Division of Fenner were not substantive enough to warrant change from the Redistribution Committee’s proposal and the electoral division will be known as the Division of Fenner.

The augmented Electoral Commission’s 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 this redistribution.