Apportionments

Redistribution begins for Northern Territory Federal Boundaries

Today marks seven years since the Northern Territory’s current federal electoral boundaries were first gazetted. Under the ‘seven-year rule’ in Section 59 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, a redistribution of the NT’s federal boundaries must commence within 30 days.

The NT’s redistribution will differ from those currently underway in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia. The other state redistributions have been triggered by a change in seat entitlements under Section 24 of the Constitution. New South Wales and Victoria will both lose a seat, Western Australia gain a seat. The seat numbers will be unchanged at two for the NT redistribution.

Seven-year rule redistributions can be deferred if they commence within twelve months of the expiry date for the House of Representatives. The deferral deadline in 2024 is May, meaning seven-year rule redistributions due for Tasmania in November and Queensland in March 2025 will be deferred until after the next election.

But the Northern Territory redistribution will go ahead. With only two seats involved, the process of drawing boundaries will be easily completed before the next election is due. Unlike with change of seat number redistributions, there are no complications if an early election is called because the existing NT divisions would remain in place.

While unlikely to have major political implications, it is worth looking at the NT redistribution to examine how the NT briefly lost its second seat in 2020, and also to observe how the Australian Electoral Commission’s Indigenous enrolment drive before the 2023 referendum has increased remote enrolment.
Read More »Redistribution begins for Northern Territory Federal Boundaries

WA Federal Redistribution Prospects using Updated Enrolment Data

Last October, eagle eyed observers spotted that there was something wrong with enrolment projection data released by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC). The data had been released as base data for redistributions in Victoria and Western Australia. Data for the NSW redistribution was not affected.

The same enrolment growth rate had been applied across both states down to local statistical area level. This was a ridiculous assumption. It turned out the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) had provided the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) with the wrong data.

In the last few days the has AEC released corrected enrolment projections with growth rates that vary across both states. This post examines how this new data will influence the redistribution in Western Australia. A second post, hopefully tomorrow, will run through a similar analysis for Victoria.

In a previous post I explained why the seat numbers by state are changing. Another post, now superseded by the post you are reading, looked at boundary change implications from last October’s initial release of incorrect enrolment projections.

What doesn’t change is that Western Australia is gaining a seat in the current redistribution, restoring the 16th seat removed three years ago. Population trends mean the new seat will be created in a different part of Perth than the previously abolished seat of Stirling.

In short, the projected enrolment data makes even clearer that WA’s new seat will be created in Perth’s east. The other 12 Perth seats will shuffle west towards the Indian Ocean. Current enrolment data, and last October’s incorrect projected enrolments, indicated that a Perth seat would need to cross the metropolitan boundary. The new projections remove this prospect meaning the redistribution will be largely confined to metropolitan Perth.Read More »WA Federal Redistribution Prospects using Updated Enrolment Data

NSW Redistribution Submissions – which seats could be for the chop.

As outlined in a previous post, NSW is set to lose a seat at the next Federal election.

The AEC has released submissions to the redistribution that will reduce the state from 47 to 46 seats. In this post I’ll run through some of the major features of party proposals. You can find the submissions at this link.

Read More »NSW Redistribution Submissions – which seats could be for the chop.

Projected Enrolment Data released for the Victorian Federal Redistribution

This post was prepared last year based on an initial release of projected enrolment numbers. The data proved to have a major fault and a completely new data set was released at the end of January 2024. I have written an entirely new post based on the corrected data that you can read at this link. The old post with the wrong data has been retained for posterity.
Read More »Projected Enrolment Data released for the Victorian Federal Redistribution

Projected Enrolment Data Released for Redistribution of WA Federal Electoral Boundaries

This post has been retained for posterity, but it was written based on incorrect enrolment data produced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and released by the Australian Electoral Commission.

Corrected projections were released in January 2024 and a new analysis of redistribution prospects based on the corrected data can be found in this post.

Read More »Projected Enrolment Data Released for Redistribution of WA Federal Electoral Boundaries

Projected Enrolment Data released for NSW Federal Redistribution

The first step in the redistribution of NSW federal electoral boundaries began yesterday with a call for submissions and the release of base enrolment data.

The major scale of boundary changes required has been revealed by the released projected enrolment figures.

NSW is losing a seat at the next Federal election, the state’s representation reduced from 47 to 46 seats.

In addition, with seven years having passed since the last redistribution, enrolments by electoral division have diverged widely from the state average.

Abolishing a division while bringing all divisions back within the permitted variation from quota will require major surgery to some electorates.

And boundary changes will almost certainly have big political consequences.

Several electorates in the state’s west are well below quota and require major changes. Seats in Sydney’s west and south-west are well over quota, in contrast to under quota Sydney seats closer to the coast.

Evening out the enrolment numbers across the Sydney basin will not be easy. Sydney’s many bays and inlets give the city a distinctive political geography. Wholesale boundary changes are going to jumble the electoral margins of many seats.

In the immediate firing line are the four ‘teal’ Independent seats in Sydney’s east.

The seats of Wentworth (Allegra Spender), Mackellar (Sophie Scamps), Warringah (Zali Steggall) and North Sydney (Kylea Tink) are all well under quota. All these seats must increase their enrolment, eating into the territory of seats to their west.

Sydney’s Liberal heartland north of the Harbour looks certain to lose a seat, possible forcing a Liberal MP to nominate against one of the ‘teals’.

There will be a new seat created in Sydney’s outer south-west and the possible abolition of a seat further east. This creates a complex electoral jigsaw that the redistribution commissioners will first have to unpick and then re-assemble.

Inside the post I have maps highlighting the enrolment variations and provide analysis of how new boundaries might be drawn.

In a previous post on NSW redistribution prospects, I looked only at what current enrolment numbers could tell us about the redistribution. In this post I am using the more important projected enrolment numbers.

(And I’m happy to receive and publish suggestions on how the new boundaries might be drawn.)

Read More »Projected Enrolment Data released for NSW Federal Redistribution

Would Creating Extra Senators for the Territories change the House of Representatives

A report from ABC Darwin overnight again raises the question of whether the Albanese government will increase the number of territory Senators.

Special Minister of State, Senator Don Farrell, referred to a looming report of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters. The story was last reported around a month ago.

Both the ACT and NT currently elect two Senators. They are elected for maximum three year terms, with their terms tied to the electoral cycle of the House of Representatives.

This differs from state Senators who are elected for fixed six-year terms with each state having a constitutionally protected equal number of Senators.

Currently each state elects 12 Senators with half (six) elected every three years. (All 12 are elected at double dissolution elections.) The number of Senators per state was set at six in 1901, increased to 10 in 1949 and the current 12 in 1984. Two Senators for each territory were added in 1975.

The question I’m usually asked about an increase in territory Senators is whether this would cause an increase in the size of the House of Representatives.

The short answer is no, as I’ll explain in this post.Read More »Would Creating Extra Senators for the Territories change the House of Representatives

Prospects for the Federal Redistribution in NSW

Caveat 27 July – This post was one I was unable to complete before I left for overseas at the end of June. I am publishing it here in partly completed form as I believe the changes to state representation in the House of Representatives could be released as early as today. I hope to update this post next week after I return from overseas.

In brief – The determination of House seats to be released by the Electoral Commissioner in the next week will see NSW lose a seat at the next Federal election, reduced from 47 to 46 seats. High growth rates on Sydney’s south-west fringe makes it likely a seat will be abolished in Sydney’s middle distance suburbs, possibly on the North Shore where all seats are well under quota. Abolishing a Sydney seat would draw the seat of Hume into south-west Sydney.

Another possibility is that two seats will be abolished, one in Sydney, one in the country with Hume pulled out of the metropolitan area and a new seat created on Sydney’s south-west fringe.

The redistribution will have major political consequences for both sides of politics as well as the independents.

For the Liberal Party, Bradfield (Paul Fetcher), Berowra (Julian Leeser) and Mitchell (Alex Hawke) will undergo major boundary changes, and one of these seats may even be abolished. Hughes (Jenny Ware) in Sydney’s south may be moved significantly into Sydney’s south-west suburbs. The rural seats of Farrer (Sussan Ley) may undergo major changes, and there is a chance that Hume (Angus Taylor) could be pulled into outer Sydney suburbs around Campbelltown. In between these two seats, the National seat of Riverina (Michael McCormack) may be forced to adopt new boundaries.

For Labor, any seat abolished on Sydney’s north shore would have major implications for Bennelong (Jerome Laxale), Parramatta (Andrew Charlton) and Greenway (Michelle Rowland).

North Sydney (Kylea Tink) is certain to have major changes flowing on from adjustments required to increase enrolments for the coastal seats of Mackellar (Sophie Scamps) and Warringah (Zali Steggall). Distance from the coast mean that the boundaries for Fowler (Dai Le) are likely to undergo major change.
Read More »Prospects for the Federal Redistribution in NSW

Prospects for the Federal Redistribution in Victoria

In brief – Victoria will lose a seat at the next Federal election. After gaining a 39th seat for the 2022 election, a relative decline in Victoria’s population sees the state revert to 38 seats. The two year shut down of immigration combined with on-going internal migration of Victorians to other states is behind the state losing a seat.

But with only three years since the last redistribution, there are no hot spots of enrolment growth that make it obvious which seat will disappear. It seems most likely that a Melbourne seat will be abolished, maybe east of the Yarra given population growth is higher to the west. But as is always the case, abolishing a metropolitan seat will have major consequences for seats across large parts of Melbourne.

Why will there be a Redistribution?

One year after every Federal election, the Australian Electoral Commissioner is required to make a determination on how many House of Representatives members each state will elect at the next election.

Commissioner Tom Rogers will make that determination in the last week of July. The determination will be made based on the most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) quarterly population statistics. The latest population figures by state and territory, for the fourth quarter of 2022, were published on Thursday 15 June.

The Commissioner has no personal choice in making the determination. The method is strictly defined in law. For states the Commissioner will apply the formula set out in Section 24 of the Constitution. For the Territories the Commissioner will use the formula set out in the Electoral Act. The Constitution also states that the Commissioner will use the “latest statistics of the Commonwealth”, a phrase the High Court and Parliament has determined will be the quarterly population statistics, that is Thursday’s ABS release.

(I’ve published a post explaining how seats are allocated to states and why they are changing at the next election.)

The published figures show Victoria will lose a seat, as will New South Wales. Western Australia will gain a seat. (see my related post on the Western Australian federal redistribution). The House of Representatives will be reduced from 151 to 150 seats at the next election.

Change in a state’ entitlement triggers a redistribution with new boundaries drawn to match the new allocation of members. In this post I will run through where the redistribution could have greatest impact on Victorian seats.

(Note: happy to add comments with people’s views on how the new boundaries might be drawn.)
Read More »Prospects for the Federal Redistribution in Victoria

ABS Population Statistics confirm WA to gain a new House seat, Victoria and NSW to lose seats

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released state population figures this morning that confirm a change in seat numbers for three states at the next Federal election.

New South Wales representation will be reduced from 47 to 46 seats, Victoria reduced from 39 to 38 seats, while Western Australia will gain a seat, increasing from 15 to 16 seats.

Other jurisdictions remain unchanged, Queensland with 30 seats, South Australia 10, Tasmania five, Australian Capital Territory three and Northern Territory two.

The next election will be for a 150 member House of Representatives, down one from the current 151 seats.

The current elected members per state remain unchanged until the next election, due between August 2024 and May 2025. Redistributions will take place in the three affected states to bring the number of electoral divisions in line with the change in allocated members.

The change in numbers will become official in the last week of July, one year after the first sitting of the current House of Representatives, when the Australian Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers issues a formal determination of House representation by state and territory.

Commissioner Rogers has no personal choice in making the determination as the method is strictly defined in law. For states the Commissioner will apply the formula set out in Section 24 of the Constitution. For the Territories the Commissioner will use the formula set out in the Electoral Act. The Constitution also states that the Commissioner will use the “latest statistics of the Commonwealth”, a phrase the High Court and Parliament has determined will be the quarterly population statistics, that is today’s ABS release.

The precise calculations around how seats are allocated is explained inside this post.

Once the new numbers are officially announced at the end of July, redistributions to implement the changed seat numbers will get underway in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia. Based on past redistribution timelines, the process of drawing new boundaries should be completed by early July 2024, in time for use at the next election.

The changes in Victoria and Western Australia reverse changed numbers that first applied at the 2022 election.

For NSW, the reduction to 46 continues a long term trend. When the parliament was increased in size in 1984, 51 of the 148 seats were in NSW. The state lost seats at the 1993, 2007, 2010 and 2016 elections.

The latest changes have come about because of changes in relative state populations. The populations of NSW and Victoria have been growing more slowly than other state, meaning both states declined relative to other states. In large part this has come about because of the two year halt to immigration, ending the usual large migrant inflow to the nation’s two largest states. Despite closing its state border in the same period, over three full years Western Australia has been a beneficiary of internal migration from other states.
Read More »ABS Population Statistics confirm WA to gain a new House seat, Victoria and NSW to lose seats