Federal elections

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

The Voice Referendum Results by Vote Type and Electoral Division

10 November – The AEC has carried out its final adjustments to the roll to take account of deaths, re-instated voters and several other causes of adjustment. This reduced national roll by around 5,000 voters and lifted the final turnout figure from 89.92% to 89.95%.

In this post I’m publishing several charts dissecting the referendum result by Vote Type and by electoral division. The post includes a table of Referendum Yes percentages and comparison columns for Labor two-party preferred percentage from the 2022 election, plus the gap between these two figures.

The electorate table shows how much lower the Yes% vote was in many traditional Labor seats. The seats where the Yes% was higher are clustered in seats won by Greens and ‘teal’ Independents at the 2022 election, and also several Liberal seats gained by Labor.

The ‘gap’ column shows a similar pattern to the 1999 Republic referendum. Both the 1999 and 2023 referendums saw Yes support distributed very differently from two-party preferred patterns at the preceding Federal election. The 1999 referendum pattern was also very different to the 2001 Federal election, which suggests the 2023 referendum is unlikely to be a guide to voting patterns at the 2025 Federal election.

That’s with the possible exception of the result in seats lost by the Liberal Party in 2022. Of the 17 Liberal seats that voted for the Republic in 1999, only five were won by the Liberal Party in 2022. The other twelve seats are now held by Labor, the Greens and ‘teal’ Independents. Eight of these seats voted for The Voice in 2023.Read More »The Voice Referendum Results by Vote Type and Electoral Division

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

How Referendum Results Relate to Levels of Party Support

The Voice Referendum is being put by and overwhelmingly backed by the Albanese Labor government. It is opposed by the National Party and is opposed by large parts of the Liberal Party including Opposition Leader Peter Dutton. It is largely supported by the Greens and ‘teal’ Independents, and opposed by Pauline Hanson’s One Nation.

It is a pattern of party support that suggests referendum night results might follow traditional party divides. This is despite the referendum being held away from a general election, away from a campaign with how-to-votes advocating a vote for or against the government as well as for or against the referendum.

To examine the role of partisanship in referendum voting patterns, I look back at two very different referendums and the relationship between Labor/Coalition election voting by electoral division, and Yes/No referendum results.

The first is the Simultaneous Elections referendum held in conjunction with the 1984 Federal election. With both Labor and Coalition how-to-votes having clear Yes and No referendum recommendations, there was an extremely strong relationship between two-party preferred results by division and Yes/No referendum results.

But the second case, the 1999 republic referendum, was a very different campaign and produced results with a much weaker link between party voting and Yes/No results. Held separately from a general election, the republic referendum was not combined with the partisanship inducing vote for or against the government. The Republic referendum is also unique in being the only referendum put by a Prime Minister who advocated a No vote.

Like The Voice referendum, the Republic was backed by Labor and generally opposed by the Coalition, though with some significant Liberal supporters of a republic. The result produced a confusing mosaic of results where safe Liberal seats voted Yes and safe Labor seats voted no.

As I outline in this post, you can explain more about the pattern of Republic referendum results by looking at the social status of electorates rather then the level of Labor or Coalition support at the previous year’s Federal election.

So are these high social status Republic supporting electorates the ‘elites’ campaigned against in 1999 and so often mentioned again in The Voice campaign? The majority of voters have more interest in getting by day to day than worrying whether ‘The Voice’ will improve the position of First Nations Australians. Does railing against ‘elites’ tap into resentment against those with more time and money to worry about such issues?

Having covered the 1999 Republic campaign and written on the results at the time, I see strong similarities with the current Voice referendum. And on Saturday night I expect to see a very similar pattern of results, with Yes results strongest in high social status metropolitan seats irrespective of whether they are Labor, Liberal, Green or Independent held.

A quick technical point before the post. Most of this post is written comparing Labor two-party preferred percentages by electoral division to Yes percentages at referendums. It could have been written comparing Coalition 2PP% to No% and produce the same findings. You just have to choose one of the two methods of measure, and focussing on the smaller number of Yes voting divisions is easier to measure and explain.
Read More »How Referendum Results Relate to Levels of Party Support

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

When will the next Federal Election be? Will it be early?

With an agreement reached between Labor and the Greens to pass the government’s housing legislation, even the remotest prospect of an early double dissolution election has vanished.

The only way for a joint House and Senate election to be held before August 2024 was via a double dissolution election. With that already unlikely option now removed, an election before August 2024 is only possible if Anthony Albanese breaks with 50 years of Prime Ministerial tradition and holds separate House and half-Senate elections.

In theory a House election can be called at any time, but as has been the case at every election since 1974, the next House elections will be held in conjunction with the next half-Senate election due at latest in May 2025.

Fixed terms and a constitutional restrictions mean that writs for a half-Senate election cannot be issued until 1 July in the year before a Senate term expires. This restriction creates an election window between August and May every three years.

The next election window opens on Saturday 3 August 2024, the first possible date for an election if writs are issued on 1 July. The election window will stay open until mid-May 2025, the last date being 17 or 24 May.

There remains a chance the government could go to a House and half-Senate election between August and October 2024. But the option is unlikely due to redistributions and a series of state and territory elections. Everything points to the government going full term to May 2025.

Of course, events over the next 20 months could unfold differently. And if they do, the election could arrive earlier than April-May 2025.
Read More »When will the next Federal Election be? Will it be early?

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