Redistribution

2017 Tasmanian Redistribution

With rumours swirling that an early Tasmanian election is set to be announced, there is one small piece of unfinished business I need to fix.

The 2021 Tasmanian election will be fought on new electoral boundaries and in this post I re-calculate the results of the 2018 Tasmanian election to match the new electoral boundaries.
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2021 Federal Redistribution – Draft Boundaries for Western Australia

Last year’s review of state representation in the House of Representatives recommended that Western Australia lose a seat, its representation falling from 16 to 15 members.

The draft boundaries are released at noon eastern time and I will update this post through the day with information on the new boundaries and estimated new margins.

In summary, the Liberal seat of Stirling is abolished and there is not much shift in margins for other seats.

The change in margins shown in the table below don’t show much shift in margins, but in going from 16 to 15 seats there are substantial changes in boundaries.
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2021 Federal Redistribution – Draft Boundaries for Victoria

Last year’s review of state representation in the House of Representatives recommended that Victoria gain a seat, increasing its number pof members from 38 to 39 seats.

The draft boundaries are released at noon eastern time and I will update this post through the day with information on the new boundaries and estimated new margins.

In short, the seat of Corangamite has been re-named Tucker and becomes a more urban seat centred on southern Geelong.

There is a new seat called Hawke covering Melbourne’s outer fringe including Sunbury, Melton, Bacchus Marsh and Ballan.

Most urban seats have had some boundary changes. The transfer of Springvale and Noble Park from Bruce to Hotham means the two seats more or less swap margins. Chisholm is slightly weakened for Liberal Gladys Liu and suburb swaps between Macnamara and Higgins opens an opportunity for the Greens to pass Labor and take the seat.

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Victorian State Redistribution with Major Political Implications Starts this Week

The Victorian Parliament began its final sitting week today after a year where the parliamentary schedule has been heavily interrupted by Covid-19.

Parliament rises for the year on Thursday just as a major electoral event gets under way that will have major consequences for the November 2022 state election.

Thursday’s Government Gazette will carry the formal notice triggering a redistribution, a re-drawing of the state’s electoral boundaries.

It is a process with major implications for the electoral prospects of the Andrews Labor government and the Liberal and National opposition.

The scale of Labor’s victory in November 2018 always meant it would be difficult for the Liberal and National Parties to make up enough ground to win the next election.

The redistribution will make that task even harder.

On current enrolments, the redistribution will abolish several seats in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, the Liberal Party’s traditional electoral heartland.

Those seats will be replaced by new seats on Melbourne’s south-east, western and north-western fringe, areas that have been dominated by the Labor Party at recent elections.

Barring events that alter traditional voting patterns, prospects are that the redistribution will buttress the Andrews’ government hold on office, and make victory for the Liberal and National Parties in 2022 just that little bit harder.
Read More »Victorian State Redistribution with Major Political Implications Starts this Week

New State Electoral Boundaries for South Australia Finalised

(Post re-written and updated 20 November)

South Australia’s Electoral Districts Boundaries Commission (EDBC) released the final version of the state’s new electoral boundaries on 18 November. The new boundaries will apply for the first time at the next South Australian election in March 2022.

The final boundaries unwound some of the more consequential changes proposed by the draft boundaries. After much opposition, Mount Barker was retained in Kavel, leaving that seat based in the Adelaide Hills, and allowing Schubert to be a Barossa Valley based seat. Flowing from this, the proposed move of Gawler into Schubert was undone, unravelling major changes to Light and resulting in a string of further changes to seats across northern Adelaide.

The final boundaries also unwound a series of suburb swaps between the inner-southern Adelaide seats Badcoe and Elder with political consequences for the margins in both seats.

If you are after more detail on the composition of the new electorates, maps can be found on the EDBC’s website.

In this post I’ll provide some commentary on the approach taken by the EDBC and the political consequences that flow from the changes.
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NSW State Redistribution – Draft Electoral Boundaries

The NSW Electoral Districts Redistribution Panel released draft state electoral boundaries on Monday, bringing enrolments for all 93 electorates back within the permitted variations from state average.

The major change brought about by the new boundaries is the abolition of Lakemba, an ultra-safe Labor seat in Sydney’s inner south-west, and the creation of a new and marginal Labor seat called Leppington on Sydney’s south-west fringe. The new boundaries for the southern Sydney Liberal seat of Heathcote transform it into a marginal Labor seat, and the margins in several other Liberal held seats have also been cut.

Update – my analysis of the new boundaries has been published by the NSW Parliamentary Library. You can find it at this link.
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2020 South Australian Redistribution – Release of Draft Boundaries

(Update: the final boundaries were released on 18 November and I analyse the political impact in a separate post on the final boundaries. The draft boundaries post below includes a broader discussion of the legal basis of drawing South Australian boundaries.)

Last Friday saw the much anticipated release of draft state electoral boundaries for South Australia.

I say anticipated because the redistribution was the first held since the Weatherill Labor government repealed the state’s electoral fairness provision in late 2017. The repeal was the government’s last legislative measure before losing office.

Would the new boundaries be drawn with no attention paid to fairness, undermining the Liberal government’s electoral position and paving the way for a Labor victory at the 2022 election? Once released, it became clear the short answer was no, the long answer more complex and well worth a blog post..

Without an overriding fairness provision, the Electoral Districts Boundaries Commission did not repeat its exercise of four years ago in drawing boundaries that sacrificed the principle (though not legal definition) of enrolment equality in favour of electoral fairness.

Against Labor’s hopes, the Commission did not entirely abandon fairness arguments. But it could no longer use fairness to dismiss other criteria set down in the Constitution for drawing electoral boundaries .

In summary, the new boundaries retain the existing two-party division of the House of Assembly where, not including elected Independents, there are 27 underlying Liberal electorates to 20 for Labor.

However, on the new boundaries, the Liberal Party has more marginal seats and the uniform swing to lose office is reduced. The big loser of the redistribution is Independent MP Geoff Brock, whose regional seat of Frome has been dismembered to solve enrolment shortfalls in country districts.Read More »2020 South Australian Redistribution – Release of Draft Boundaries

ABS Population Statistics Confirm Changes in House Representation

(Update 3 July – the determination by the Australian Electoral Commissioner has been published confirming that Victoria will gain a seat and Western Australia and the Northern Territory lose seats. Details here.)

The Australian Bureau of Statistic’s national population report, released this morning, confirms the expected changes to state and territory representation for the next election.

The statistics confirm that Victoria will gain a 39th seat in the House of Representatives, Western Australia will lose the 16th seat it gained in 2016, and the Northern Territory will lose the second member it has elected since 2001.

The statistics in this morning’s report, for the December 2019 quarter, will now be used by the Australian Electoral Commissioner to make a formal determination on 3 July setting down the number of members to be elected from each state and territory at the next election.

When implemented, the changes will reduce the size of the House of Representatives from 151 to 150 seats and begin the process of electoral boundary re-drawing in Victoria and Western Australia. In the case of the Northern Territory, the existing seats of Lingiari and Solomon will be merged as a single seat with revived name Northern Territory.

However, a bill has been moved in the Senate designed to save the Northern Territory’s second seat. While the Constitution determines the allocation of members to states, representation for the territories is determined by legislation and can be changed by parliament.

I have published two recent posts on the allocation of House of Representatives seats. The first deals with the constitutional law around state representation, the second with territory representation including some suggestions on changes that can be made to the formula for territory representation.

My calculations of the seat entitlements based on this morning’s ABS report are shown below. Update – the table below has been updated with the Electoral Commissioner’s official determination.Read More »ABS Population Statistics Confirm Changes in House Representation

2020 Apportionment of Seats: Part 3 – Changing the Formula for States

(Update 3 July – the determination has been published confirming that Victoria will gain a seat and Western Australia and the Northern Territory lose seats. Details here.)

On 3 July, Australian Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers will issue his determination on how many electorates will be contested and representatives elected for each state and territory at the next federal election. The determination will be based on Australian Bureau of Statistics population statistics to be released this week.

Based on population trends, it is expected that Victoria will gain a seat to 39 seats, and Western Australia will lose the 16th seat it gained in 2016. More controversially, the Northern Territory will lose the second member it has elected at every election since 2001.

This is the third of three posts on the subject of apportioning seats to states and territories under Australian constitutional and electoral law.

The first post looked at the constitutional allocation of seats to states under Section 24 of the Constitution, how the current formula works, past attempts to change the formula, and how past High Court cases have interpreted the workings of Section 24.

The second looked at the constitutional basis and history of territory representation. As I explain in the post, the allocation of seats to the territories is governed by legislation, not the constitution. The Parliament can change the territory allocation formula, and I propose that it should be changed to use what is known as Dean’s method. This would provide a fairer and more stable method of allocating seats than the current formula, though it would not guarantee the Northern Territory two seats into the future.

A private member’s bill has been introduced in the Senate to guarantee a minimum two seats for the Northern Territory. The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters has launched an inquiry into the bill with submissions closing on 10 July. You can find details of the inquiry here.

In this post I will re-cap the US apportionment methods I discussed in my post on the territories and ask whether they could also be applied to the Australian states without risking the wrath of the High Court. In short my findings are that across 26 Australian apportionments since Federation, Dean’s method would have added one seat to one state at one of the 26 apportionments, one change out of 416 state allocations.

For this reason I argue that switching formula to adopt Dean’s method would meet the tests for changing the constitutional formula discussed in McKellar’s case (1977). (See me first post for details). It can be argued that Dean’s method, by minimising the difference between the average enrolment in each state and the national quota, provides a more proportional method than the variant of Webster’s method set out in Section 24 of the constitution.

Read More »2020 Apportionment of Seats: Part 3 – Changing the Formula for States

2020 Apportionment of Seats: Part 2 – Allocating to the Territories

(Update 3 July – the determination has been published confirming that Victoria will gain a seat and Western Australia and the Northern Territory lose seats. Details here.)

On 3 July, Australian Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers will issue his determination on how many representatives (seats) each state and territory will have at the next federal election.

As the numbers stand, it is expected that Victoria will gain a seat to 39 seats, and Western Australia will lose the 16th seat it gained in 2016. Most controversially, the Northern Territory will lose the second seat it has had since 2001.

This is the second of three posts on Australian apportionment. The first post looked at the constitutional allocation of seats to states under Section 24 of the Constitution, how the current formula works, past attempts to change the formula, and how past High Court cases have interpreted the workings of Section 24.

In this post I concentrate on the constitutional basis and history of territory representation, and in what ways Territories are treated differently from the states in allocating seats.

The Labor Party is proposing a bill to save the NT’s second seat by legislating that the Northern Territory have a minimum of two seats. The NT’s Country Liberal Party has expressed some support for the idea. As was the case with a similar bill when the NT’s second seat was marked for abolition in 2003, the bill will be the catalyst for a more detailed discussion of the issue.

In my opinion, it would be better to change the formula as it applies to the territories rather than return to fixing the number of seats. In technical terms, my proposal is that the allocation of extra seats should be determined by rounding at the harmonic mean of two alternate allocations rather than the current arithmetic mean. In the case of the Northern Territory, that would involve allocating a second seat if the quota calculation is above 1.33 rather than the current 1.50. This would almost certainly save the NT’s second seat for the next election.

If you don’t have time to read through all the detail in this post, click here to go to the tables showing how the proposed change formula would have applied to the NT and ACT at apportionments since 1991.
Read More »2020 Apportionment of Seats: Part 2 – Allocating to the Territories