Australia Elections Federal

Covid19 Set to Change State Representation After 2022 Election

The closure of Australia’s international borders in early 2020 has had a major impact on Australian state and territory population trends. These will play out politically in mid-2023 when the Australian Electoral Commissioner determines how many House of Representatives seats each state will be entitled to for the 2024/25 election.

The rules under which the Electoral Commissioner makes a determination are tightly defined in law and based on Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) population statistics. The Commissioner merely applies the Parliament’s formula and has no room for personal choice.

The ABS’s most recent population estimates for March 2021 were released last week. Based on these, the next term of Parliament will see Victoria lose the 39th seat it has gained for the coming election. On the 2021 numbers, there are no other changes to state representation, though future growth could see Western Australia on the cusp of recovering the 16th seat it recently lost.

The 2022 election will be contested on seat numbers set by the Commissioner’s last determination in July 2020. The new electoral boundaries were finalised in August 2021. My comment on Victoria losing a seat will not be relevant until mid-2023 when the next determination is made.Read More »Covid19 Set to Change State Representation After 2022 Election

2019 WA Senate Election – Ballot Paper and Preferences Analysis

This is my latest look back at how the Senate’s new electoral system worked at the 2019 election, how voters completed their ballot papers, what preference flows were produced, and what was the influence of how-to-vote material.

In summary, the smaller a party’s vote, the more likely its preferences will scatter widely or exhaust. The more that a party has an identifiable position on the left-right spectrum, the more likely that its preferences will flow in a particular direction.

And the more obvious a party’s how-to-vote recommendation, and the more how-to-votes are handed out, the more likely that voters will follow or guess the recommendation.Read More »2019 WA Senate Election – Ballot Paper and Preferences Analysis

More on Minimum Membership Requirements for Registering Political Parties

The Morrison government has introduced legislation that will lift the membership threshold for registering a federal political party from 500 to 1,500.

The legislation will not require parties with current parliamentary representation to meet the new requirement. All other parties will have three months after the legislation is passed to convince the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) that they meet the new membership requirement to retain registration.

There are currently 10 registered parties represented in the Commonwealth Parliament, with an eleventh about to be added with former Liberal Craig Kelly announced this week as the parliamentary leader of the United Australia Party. Kelly’s signing means the UAP no longer needs to meet membership requirement, in the same way the party was able to rely on former One Nation Senator Brian Burston for registration in 2016.

That leaves more than 40 parties needing to triple the list of names they provide to the AEC to retain registration.
Read More »More on Minimum Membership Requirements for Registering Political Parties

Is Increasing the Membership Requirement to Register Political Parties Justified?

The government’s proposed changes to party registration rules, released last week, will increase the number of members required to register a political party from 500 to 1,500. Understandably this proposal has attracted criticism, especially from the small parties that will now have to recruit more members.

I posted on Thursday about this and other proposed changes to the Commonwealth Electoral Act.

Is this just an attack on small parties, or is it a justifiable attempt to make Senate ballot papers easier for voters to read and understand, and for the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) to print and count?Read More »Is Increasing the Membership Requirement to Register Political Parties Justified?

Proposed Electoral Act changes for the 2022 Federal Election

Assistant Minister for Electoral Matters, Ben Morton, introduced four bills today to amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act ahead of next year’s Federal election.

It’s important to say first that the bills do not include controversial proposals to introduce voter ID and optional preferential voting. Those were put forward by LNP Senator James McGrath in the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters’ (JSCEM’s) review of the 2019 election.

The bills also do not include any of JSCEM’s recent proposals to change the Electoral Act to deal with holding elections in a period when Covid is widespread or lockdowns are in place. Presumably any changes related to Covid will be introduced closer to the election.

These bills introduce a number of changes to counting procedures, party registration, non-party campaign expenditure, multiple voters and other campaigning offences. Some of the changes are more controversial than others, so the changes have been split into four bills.

The most controversial changes concern party registration, and splitting the changes avoids the problem where important changes in an omnibus amendment bill are delayed by more controversial parts of the bill.

Below is my summary of the proposed changes with links to the source documents on the bills.
Read More »Proposed Electoral Act changes for the 2022 Federal Election

2022 Federal Electoral Pendulum

With redistributions of electoral boundaries now complete for Victoria and Western Australia, it is time to publish an updated electoral pendulum for the 2022 election.

The redistributions have abolished the WA Liberal seat of Stirling and created the new notionally Labor held seat of Hawke in Victoria. (See my previous posts on the redistributions, in Victoria here and Western Australia here.)

Compared to the 2019 election result, the changes reduce the Coalition from 77 to 76 seats and lift Labor from 68 to 69 seats. In the 151 member House of Representatives, 76 seats are needed for majority government.

As well as the web formatted pendulum inside this post, I’ve prepared a well laid out printable ‘pdf’ version with seats listed in double-sided A4 format. You can find it at this link.
Read More »2022 Federal Electoral Pendulum

2021 Federal Redistribution – Boundaries Finalised for Western Australia

The draft Federal electoral boundaries for Western Australia released in March were finalised at the end of June.

Today the supporting documentation has been published, including the the new maps and enrolment data. That allows me to calculate estimated margins for the new boundaries. There are only minor changes compared to the draft boundaries released in March.

The overall summary of the redistribution’s impact is that the Liberal held division of Stirling has been abolished. This has caused major changes to the boundaries of Cowan, Pearce and Hasluck, with smaller changes propagating across the rest of the state.

The re-drawn electorate of Cowan includes a roughly equal number of voters from the old Cowan and the abolished Stirling. Pearce has been completely re-arranged, losing its former rural component to Durack and O’Connor, and the rapidly growing suburban areas around Ellenbrook to Hasluck. Pearce is now based entirely in Perth’s northern suburbs. Read More »2021 Federal Redistribution – Boundaries Finalised for Western Australia

2021 Federal Redistribution – Boundaries Finalised for Victoria

Draft Federal electoral boundaries were released in March and finalised at the end of June.

Today the supporting documentation, the maps and enrolment data, have been published which allows me to publish estimated margins for the finalised boundaries.

There were two changes of significance from the draft boundaries. Most of the proposed suburb swaps between Macnamara and Higgins have been reversed, and the proposal to re-name Corangamite as Tucker has also been abandoned.

The overall summary of the redistribution is that all 38 continuing seats remain held by the party that won the division in 2019, and the newly created 39th division is called Hawke and is a safe Labor seat.Read More »2021 Federal Redistribution – Boundaries Finalised for Victoria

When can the Next Federal Election be Held?

On Twitter recently, the most frequent question I am asked is when “can” the next federal election be held. Second place goes to when “will” the election be held.

This post attempts to answer both questions.

The three-part answer on “when can” the election be held is –

  • The first date for a normal house and half-Senate election is 7 August 2021, if announced this weekend and writs are issued by Monday 5 July.
  • The last date for a normal house and half-Senate election is 21 May 2022. This date gives six weeks to complete the complex Senate count and allows Senators to be declared elected and start their terms on 1 July. A mid-May election would be announced in early April 2022.
  • There is a highly improbable option for a half-Senate election by 21 May 2022 and a separate House election as late as 3 September 2022.

The short answer on “when will” the election be held is –

  • when the Prime Minister thinks his government has the best chance of winning, or
  • if prospects look grim, the last possible date.

Read More »When can the Next Federal Election be Held?

Electoral Law, Savings Provisions and Senate Reform

Someone reading my article on reforming the WA Legislative Council’s electoral system reminded me of a speech I did a number of years ago on Senate electoral reform and issues to do with savings provisions.

The speech was at the launch of a UNSW Law Journal special Issue number 39(1) with various papers on electoral law.

The Journal had several papers on different areas of electoral law. I addressed each of the papers before spending much of the speech on savings provisions and in particular looking at the issue of savings provisions with the reformed Senate electoral system.

The speech was shortly before the 2016 election, after the Senate electoral reforms had passed, but before they were ruled constitutional by the High Court.

Having watched the speech back, I thought it worth sharing and it can be viewed via the YouTube link in the post.Read More »Electoral Law, Savings Provisions and Senate Reform