Behind the Scenes: The AEC's 1998 Federal Election Report: Nominations

Updated: 9 October 2007


an elector

A person could not be elected to the Senate or the House of Representatives at the 1998 federal election unless they had nominated as a candidate by the close of nominations at 12 noon on Thursday 10 September 1998. It was not possible to nominate as a candidate for election until the writs had been issued and no-one could nominate for more than one election held on polling day.

Who Could Nominate as a Candidate?

The eligibility qualifications for a candidate for the Senate and the House of Representatives were the same. To nominate as a candidate for the Senate or the House of Representatives, a person had to be at least 18 years old, an Australian citizen, and an elector entitled to vote or a person qualified to become an elector.

A person could not nominate if, at the close of nominations, they did not meet any of the three eligibility requirements detailed above, were a current member of a State Parliament or Territory Legislative Assembly, or were disqualified by Section 44 of the Constitution.

Each candidate was required to pay a nomination deposit, which increased following legislative changes after the 1996 election. At the 1998 election, a House of Representatives candidate was required to pay a $350 deposit, which was refundable if the candidate achieved four per cent or more of the formal first preference votes for the relevant division. A Senate candidate was required to pay a deposit of $700, which was refundable if the candidate (or if applicable, the Senate group in which the candidate was included) achieved four per cent or more of the formal first preference votes for the relevant State or Territory.

Another legislative change to the nominations procedures was the increased number of signatures that a candidate not endorsed by a registered political party needed in support of their nomination. At the 1998 federal election a candidate who was not endorsed by a party required the support of fifty people entitled to vote at the election for which the candidate was standing. At the 1996 election a non-endorsed candidate required six signatures.

Declaration of Nominations

Nominations for the 1998 federal election closed at 12 noon on Thursday 10 September 1998. At previous federal elections, the nominations received were publicly declared as soon as possible following the close of nominations. At the 1998 federal election, following legislative change, nominations were publicly declared 24 hours after the close of nominations.

Nationally, 1 438 people nominated as candidates in the 1998 federal election.* This figure included 329 candidates for the Senate and 1 109 candidates for the House of Representatives. There were 1 039 male candidates and 399 female candidates.

*Division of Newcastle: At the close of nominations on 10 September 1998 a total of eight candidates had nominated in the Division of Newcastle. However, due to the death of a candidate prior to polling day the election in this Division did not go ahead on 3 October. Instead a supplementary election was held on 21 November 1998 where, following a separate close of nominations, 11 candidates stood for election. The nomination figures used in this publication include this second nominations figure of 11 (i.e. the original eight are not counted).

The tables below outline the number of nominations by State and Territory for both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and provide the number of candidates from the 1996 federal election for comparison.

Senate – Number of Candidates, Groups and Ungrouped Candidates
1998 federal election 1996 federal election
State/Territory Seats Candidates Groups Ungrouped candidates Candidates Groups Ungrouped candidates
NSW 6 69 22 9 63 18 9
VIC 6 63 20 5 44 12 6
QLD 6 57 21 5 48 18 4
WA 6 45 17 1 29 9 4
SA 6 35 13 2 31 12 1
TAS 6 32 12 3 19 8 0
ACT 6 17 7 3 14 5 4
NT 6 11 5 1 7 3 1
TOTAL 40 329 117 29 255 85 29
House of Representatives – Number of Candidates
1998 federal election 1996 federal election
State/Territory Seats Candidates Seats Candidates
NSW 50 392 50 319
VIC 37 289 37 214
QLD 27 192 26 180
WA 14 109 14 80
SA 12 78 12 74
TAS 5 27 5 23
ACT 2 15 3 13
NT 1 7 1 5
TOTAL 148 1109 148 908

Nominations Overview

Some particular points of interest from the 1998 federal election:

  • 275 more candidates nominated than at the 1996 federal election. This included 74 more in the Senate and 201 more in the House of Representatives
  • the number of male candidates increased by 218 and the number of female candidates increased by 57 from 1996. In 1996 there were 821 male and 342 female candidates
  • 34 registered political parties fielded candidates compared to 31 parties at 1996
  • the largest number of candidates fielded in a division was 13 in the Division of Bennelong. There were also two divisions with 12 candidates – Bendigo (Victoria) and Brand (Western Australia)
  • the smallest number of candidates fielded in a division was four. This occurred in the Division of Franklin (Tasmania).

Nominations System

Nominations were entered into the computerised nominations system at AEC Divisional Offices for House of Representatives candidates and at AEC State and Territory Head Offices for Senate candidates.

The system produced a number of reports which were provided to the media, candidates, political parties and other interested people.

This list of candidates was also used for other components of the AEC's computerised election management system, for example in the production of House of Representatives ballot papers.

A national list of candidates was available soon after the last declarations of nominations were held in Western Australia. The list was distributed to members of the media, political parties, candidates and other persons in the early evening of Friday 11 September 1998. The national list of candidates was also placed on the AEC Internet website.

Draw for Ballot Paper Positions

The order in which candidates' names appeared on the ballot paper was determined by a random draw. The draws were conducted immediately following the public declarations of nominations and were open to candidates, media and the public.

The draws for Senate ballot paper positions were conducted by each AEO at their capital city Head Office. The draws for positions on the House of Representatives ballot papers were conducted by DROs at each of the 148 Divisional Offices.

A double randomised system was used for the draws for both the House of Representatives and the Senate. In the House of Representatives there were two draws. The first draw gave each candidate a number and the second draw determined the order in which each candidate appeared on the ballot paper.

The same process occurred for the Senate; however, it was in two parts. In the first part there were two draws for grouped candidates, and in the second, there were two draws for ungrouped candidates. The Senate draws were conducted in this order because groups appear before ungrouped candidates on the ballot paper.

Senate Group Voting Tickets

Within 24 hours of the public declaration of nominations, Senate groups were able to lodge a voting ticket with the relevant State or Territory AEO. A voting ticket is a written statement setting out a preference ordering of all candidates in the election. When voters chose to vote for a group above the line on the Senate ballot paper, their preferences followed the ordering lodged by the Group.

A poster setting out copies of all voting tickets lodged in that State or Territory was displayed at every polling booth on polling day.