Australia Elections Federal

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

Prospects for the Federal Redistribution in Western Australia

In brief – Western Australia will gain a 16th seat for the next Federal election. A redistribution drawing boundaries for 16 seats will begin later this year. Current enrolments mean that most of the state’s current districts will need to shed electors. The geography of the state points to the new seat being created in Perth’s east.

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, will be released on Thursday this week.

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.

(Update: After release of the ABS statistics, I have published a post setting out in full the formula allocating representation to states.)

Based on the trend in quarterly population statistics since 2020, it is certain that Western Australia will gain a seat with both Victoria and New South Wales set to lose a seat. Queensland is close to gaining a seat, but whether it does will depend on Thursday’s release. If Queensland’s numbers are unchanged, the changes in other states will reduce the House of Representatives from 151 to 150 seats at the next election.

Any change in seat entitlement for a state triggers a redistribution drawing boundaries for the new allocation of seats.

In this post I will concentrate on how the redistribution could unfold in Western Australia with posts on other states to follow in the next few days.

(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 Western Australia

Record Minor Party Vote at the 2022 Senate Election and how the Senate’s Electoral System Performed

The 2022 Senate election marked a new high point in support for minor parties and Independents. The long term trend of declining support for major parties continued and passed a new milestone. For the first time both major parties were outpolled by the combined vote for minor parties and independents.

Senate ‘Other’ vote reached 35.7% against 34.2% for the Coalition and 30.1% for Labor. Senate non-major party support has been higher than Labor’s vote at every Senate election since 2013, but 2022 was the first where it was also higher than the Coalition.

In the House of Representatives, minor party and Independent support remained in third place though at a record level. The Coalition polled 35.7% in the House, Labor 32.6% and all other candidates 31.7%. While support for ‘Others’ reached record levels in both chambers, the gap between support in the two chambers narrowed.

The one-third splits in Senate support did not translate into one-thirds representation. The Coalition elected 15 Senators, Labor 15, and all other parties 10. Within vote for others, the Greens elected six Senators with 12.7% of the vote while the 23.0% support for the rest elected only four Senators.

This discrepancy is down to the nature of the Senate’s electoral system. Support for the Coalition, Labor and the Greens was confined to a single ticket in each state and territory. (There was a second but very low-polling National ticket in SA.) Support for non-Green ‘Others’ may have been at 23.0%, but it was spread across 126 groups plus numerous ‘ungrouped’ candidates. As smaller parties were excluded, their preferences did not always flow to other smaller parties.

Under the group voting ticket system abolished in 2016, party negotiated deals allowed small parties to aggregate their vote. The abolition of tickets returned control over preferences to voters, and three elections since the change have revealed that voters make different preference choices to those produced by the now abolished tickets. The new system has essentially diminished the influence of preferences and made the system more proportional to the level of first preference vote in each state.

The Senate’s electoral system now effectively operates like list proportional representation with final seats allocated to groups with the highest partial quotas on first preferences. The election of Independent David Pocock in the 2022 ACT Senate race shows that preference can still determine who is elected. But such exceptions don’t undermine the basic nature of the Senate’s reformed electoral system – it advantages parties with primary votes over parties that rely on preferences.

Inside this post, I take a closer look at the national voting patterns, and also assess how the electoral system translated votes into the seats.
Read More »Record Minor Party Vote at the 2022 Senate Election and how the Senate’s Electoral System Performed

2022 Senate Election and Ballot Paper Completion Types

The 2022 Senate election was the third since the 2016 abolition of group voting tickets. These tickets had previously allowed parties to control the distribution of between-party preferences by allowing voters the choice of voting for only one pre-arranged party ticket.

The new system put voters in control of between-party preferences. Voters could indicate ordered preferences for parties ‘above the line’ (ATL) on the ballot paper, or for individual candidates ‘below-the-line’ (BTL).

The changes also ended full preferential voting in favour of partly optional preferential voting. Ballot paper instructions stated to mark at least six ATL or 12 BTL preferences. Generous savings provisions were adopted, with any ATL vote with a valid first preferences being saved as formal, and any BTL vote with at least six preferences also being saved.

The changes were based on similar reforms ending party control over preferences adopted in the states. New South Wales abolished upper house group voting tickets at the 2003 state election, South Australia in 2018, and Western Australian will abolish them at the next state election in 2025. Only Victoria continues to use group voting tickets.

The major difference between the state reforms and the Senate system is the states have made ATL preferences fully optional. State instructions are to mark one square above the line with further preferences optional. The number of BTL preferences required varies from state to state.

The Senate instructions state to mark a minimum six ATL preferences, though as already mentioned, any ballot paper with at least a valid ATL first preference is saved as formal.

The release of 2022 ballot paper data has revealed an unchanged pattern in how voters completed their ballot papers. As at the two previous elections in 2016 and 2019, around 80% of all 2022 Senate ballot papers were completed according to the ballot paper ATL instructions with a sequence of six ATL preferences.
Read More »2022 Senate Election and Ballot Paper Completion Types

2022 Post-Federal Election Pendulum

With 16 members elected to the crossbench in the new House of Representatives, drawing up a new electoral pendulum based on the 2022 Federal election result strains the traditionally used two-sided format.

However, I’ve gone with the traditional format with the non-major party seats separated bottom right on the opposition side of the pendulum. However, the expanded size of the crossbench means this group of seats deserves more attention than its bottom of the table position suggests.

Inside this post I provide a post-election pendulum for the House of Representatives, along with some general comments on the overall result.Read More »2022 Post-Federal Election Pendulum

2022 New South Wales Senate Election

  • Re-elected 1 – Marise Payne (Liberal)
  • Re-elected 2 – Deborah O’Neill (Labor)
  • Re-elected 3 – Ross Cadell (National)
  • Re-elected 4 – Jenny McAllister (Labor)
  • Elected 5 – David Shoebridge (Greens)
  • Re-elected 6 – Jim Molan (Liberal)

Party Outcome: Labor (-1) Greens (+1). Within the Coalition ticket, the Nationals recover the seat lost to the Liberal Party during the 2017 citizenship drama.

A full table of first preference votes allocated to ticket votes and to individual candidates is included in the post. Some analysis of the preference flows will be included once the preference distribution report is released later today.
Read More »2022 New South Wales Senate Election

2022 Victorian Senate Election

  • Re-elected 1 – Sarah Henderson (Liberal)
  • Elected 2 – Linda White (Labor)
  • Re-elected 3 – Bridget McKenzie (National)
  • Re-elected 4 – Jana Stewart (Labor)
  • Re-elected 5 – Lidia Thorpe (Greens)
  • Elected 6 – Ralph Babet (United Australia Party)
  • Defeated – Greg Mirabella (Liberal)

Party Outcome: Coalition (-1), United Australia Party (+1).

A table of final first preferences is included inside this post along with an analysis of the distribution of preferences sheets.
Read More »2022 Victorian Senate Election

2022 Queensland Senate Election

  • Re-elected 1 – James McGrath (LNP)
  • Re-elected 2 – Murray Watt (Labor)
  • Re-elected 3 – Matt Canavan (LNP)
  • Elected 4 – Penny Allman-Payne (Greens)
  • Re-elected 5 – Pauline Hanson (One Nation)
  • Re-elected 6 – Anthony Chisholm (Labor)
  • Defeated – Amanda Stoker (LNP)

Party Summary: Greens (+1), LNP (-1).

A full table of first preference votes is included in the post as well as an analysis of the preference flows.

The critical point in the count was the exclusion of Clive Palmer (UAP). More than half of his preferences flowed to Pauline Hanson (ONP), allowing Hanson to open a wide lead over Amanda Stoker (LNP) in the contest for the third conservative seat.
Read More »2022 Queensland Senate Election