Australian Electoral Commission

Redistributions – Frequently Asked Questions

Updated: 13 November 2014

When does the entitlement determination occur?

Calculating representation entitlements of states and territories explains when and how the entitlement determination is achieved.

Where can I find information about the redistribution that is happening in a state or territory?

Once the redistribution of a state or territory has commenced, a webpage will be established which will be updated on an ongoing basis and will include:

  • media releases
  • background information
  • an indicative timeline
  • statistical information
  • input received from interested persons and organsations, and
  • reports and maps

Information about previous redistributions is also available.

Who organises the redistribution of electoral boundaries?

A Redistribution Committee is appointed for the state or territory in which a redistribution has commenced.

What criteria are used to draw the electoral boundaries?

A Redistribution Committee must develop a set of proposals for dividing each state or territory into a number of electoral divisions equal to its entitlement in the House of Representatives. In developing its proposals, the Redistribution Committee must remain within the numerical quotas for the current and projected enrolment. The Redistribution Committee shall also give due consideration to:

  • community interests within the proposed electoral division, including economic, social and regional interests
  • means of communication and travel within the proposed electoral division
  • physical features and area of the proposed electoral division, and
  • existing boundaries of divisions in the state or territory.

What is the three and a half year rule?

Electoral boundaries are drawn so that, as far as practicable, three and a half years after the redistribution has been completed, the enrolment in each electoral division should not vary from the state average by more than 3.5 per cent. This is also known as the 'projection time'.

Note: The Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 provides separate provisions for the projection time if another redistribution is expected sooner than seven years.

Who can have a say about the electoral boundaries?

There are four times during the redistribution process when interested persons or organisations are invited to have a say on where they think the boundaries for an electoral division should be located or the name of an electoral division.

While anyone can provide input into the redistributions process, it can only be accepted and considered if made during the following times:

  • the period for public suggestions
  • the period for comments on public suggestions
  • the period for objections on the proposed redistribution, and
  • the period for providing comments on objections

The redistribution timetable outlines the legislative timeframes for lodging public suggestions. Once the redistribution of a state or territory has commenced, a webpage will be published which will include an indicative timetable outlining when suggestions and objections can be made.

Anything received outside of these times cannot be considered by the Redistribution Committee or the augmented Electoral Commission.

Guidelines are available to assist people or organisations interested in making submissions to the Redistribution Committee.

Who is the augmented Electoral Commission?

An augmented Electoral Commission is established for each state or territory in which a redistribution is occurring.

Does a federal redistribution impact on a state or territory redistribution scheduled to happen at the same time?

No, a federal redistribution is a separate exercise to a state or territory redistribution that may be happening at the same time. The two processes are not related as they are governed by different legislation and timeframes.

How do I know if I have been affected by a redistribution?

Electors affected by changes to electoral boundaries will be notified of this change before the next federal election.

When do the new electoral boundaries come into effect?

For the purpose of electing members to the House of Representatives, the new electoral boundaries do not come into effect until the next federal election.

The enrolment of new electors and changes to existing enrolments are implemented immediately following the determination of the new electoral boundaries.

Note: If a by-election is held prior to the next federal election, the by-election will be conducted on the existing electoral boundaries not the redistributed boundaries.

What if a federal election is held before the redistribution process is completed?

If the writ for a House of Representatives election is issued before the completion of a redistribution and there is no change to the number of electoral divisions for the state or territory, the election would be contested on the current electoral boundaries. The work of the Redistribution Committee would continue irrespective of the election.

However, if the writ for a House of Representatives election was issued before the completion of a redistribution which was occurring due to a change of entitlement, a mini-redistribution would be required (section 76 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918).

A mini-redistribution takes place as follows:

  • where a state is entitled to extra members of the House of Representatives, the two contiguous divisions with the highest combined enrolment will be split into three electoral divisions. The newly-created electoral division is given a hyphenated name – a combination of the names of the two divisions from which it was created.
  • where a state is entitled to fewer members of the House of Representatives, the pair of contiguous electoral divisions with the lowest combined enrolment will be merged to create one electoral division. The name of the newly created electoral division will be a combination of the two electoral divisional names.