Proposed redistribution of Western Australia into electoral divisions

Updated: 19 August 2015

Executive summary

This report provides the Committee’s proposed redistribution of Western Australia into 16 electoral divisions.

A redistribution is a redrawing of electoral boundaries to ensure, as near as practicable, that each state and territory gains representation in the House of Representatives in proportion to its population, and that there is a similar number of electors in each electoral division for a given state or territory.

The Electoral Act authorises the redistribution process, including the various stages involved in a redistribution, the extent of public involvement and the relevant timelines to be observed.

The current Western Australia redistribution is required by section 59(2)(a) of the Electoral Act in that the number of members of the House of Representatives that is to be chosen for Western Australia at the next general election has altered from 15 to 16.

The redistribution process commenced on 1 December 2014 with an Electoral Commission direction. Public suggestions were invited on Wednesday 11 March 2015 by way of a notice in the Commonwealth Government Notices Gazette (the Gazette) and by way of newspaper advertisements on 14 March 2015. Suggestions were made publicly available on Monday 13 April 2015 and public comments on the suggestions were invited. The Committee received 27 written suggestions and 16 written comments. The Committee noted the wide-ranging and comprehensive nature of some suggestions and the well-argued cases for change.

The Committee has carefully considered all suggestions and comments in detail, at meetings held in May and June 2015. The Committee has developed its redistribution proposal informed by those suggestions and comments.

The redistribution proposal covers two broad areas, naming of electoral divisions and defining the boundaries of electoral divisions.

Naming of electoral divisions

The Committee proposes that the 15 existing division names are retained. In proposing a name for the 16th division, the Committee took account of the Australian Electoral Commission’s (AEC’s) ‘Guidelines for naming federal electoral divisions’ (the guidelines), which are reproduced as Appendix F to this report. Various suggestions and comments put forward the names of a number of prominent Western Australian individuals and families, all of whom have contributed to public and/or political life to varying degrees and many of whom met the guidelines. Ultimately the Committee determined to propose that the 16th division is named Burt for the reasons set out in the body of the report.

Boundaries of electoral divisions

In making its proposed redistribution the Committee must ensure that enrolment numbers for each proposed division remain within both current and projected enrolment parameters.

At the commencement of the redistribution on 1 December 2014, current enrolment for Western Australia was 1 504 413 across the existing 15 divisions, with an average enrolment for 16 divisions of 94 026. The 10 per cent tolerance available to the Committee requires that the 16 new divisions are constructed with a minimum current enrolment of 84 623 and a maximum current enrolment of 103 428.

At the projection time of 8 February 2017, projected enrolment for Western Australia is 1 594 973 with a projected average enrolment for each of the 16 divisions of 99 686. The 3.5 per cent tolerance available to the Committee requires that divisions are constructed with a minimum projected enrolment of 96 197 and a maximum projected enrolment of 103 175.

In addition to meeting the numerical requirements of the Electoral Act, the Committee has applied the following principles when considering the placement of new boundaries:

  1. to the extent possible, community of interests such as local government areas (LGAs) and localities are kept together; strong and readily identifiable features, such as major roads and railways, are used to define divisional boundaries,
  2. to the extent possible, proposed divisional boundaries do not cross the Swan River or other major geographic barriers, and
  3. to the extent possible, the maximum number of electors are retained in their current electoral division.

The majority of written suggestions proposed that the new division is created around the Armadale and Gosnells LGAs and the Committee found this to be the most appropriate placement for the new division.

The Committee’s proposal places the new Division of Burt in the south-east corner of the Perth metropolitan area centring on Gosnells and Armadale. The new electoral division takes its elector numbers primarily from the outer-urban growth Divisions of Canning and Hasluck. The Division of Tangney has also provided a substantial number of electors to form the new division, with a small number of electors moved from the existing Division of Swan. The changes made to the Divisions of Canning, Hasluck, Swan and Tangney to form the new division have created flow-on effects, impacting all other divisions, in order to have all divisions remaining within the numerical requirements set out in the Electoral Act.

Elector movements

The Committee noted that in the absence of any other changes some six per cent of electors must be moved in order to create the new division.

The Committee’s proposal requires 264 401 current electors to change division, with 93 763 of that number moving to form the new Division of Burt. Discounting the electors that have been moved to create the new division the Committee’s proposal involves the movement of 170 638 electors, or 11.34 per cent of all electors across Western Australia.