2023

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

Increase in Voters Completing Preferences at the 2023 NSW Legislative Council Election

In 2000 New South Wales became the first state to abolish Group Voting Tickets (GVTs), the system then generally used to elect state Legislative Councils and the Commonwealth Senate.

The NSW decision followed the 1999 Legislative Council election and its infamous “tablecloth” ballot paper. Confusion combined with labyrinthine preference deals made a mockery of any claim that the filling of the final vacancies reflected the will of the electorate.

The system adopted abolished GVTs and introduced a new form of voting above-the-line (ATL) where voters could direct preferences to other parties on the ballot paper by numbering ATL boxes. A single ‘1’ ATL vote was still formal, but a voter could direct preferences to others groups with an ATL voting square by indicating ‘2’, ‘3’ etc to other groups.

With Senate elections continuing to use GVTs where only a single ATL preference counted, few voters made use of the new ATL voting option at Legislative Council elections. At four elections from 2003 to 2015, more than 80% of Legislative Council ballot papers continued to be completed with a 1-only ATL vote and only around 15% of voters indicated further ATL preferences.

When the Commonwealth followed NSW in abolishing GVTs ahead of the 2016 election, it adopted different instructions on how to complete an ATL vote. Senate ballot paper instructions, and advice from ballot paper issuing officers, suggested a minimum of 6-ATL preferences be completed.

The Senate reforms included generous savings provisions permitting ballot papers with fewer than six ATL preferences to remain formal. At three Senate elections since 2016, more than 95% of ballot papers have had six or more preferences, around 80% having exactly six.

Experience with the new Senate ballot paper has clearly encouraged more voters to indicate preferences on NSW Legislative Council ballot papers.

As the chart below shows, only around 15% of voters completed ATL preferences before the Senate changes. At two NSW elections post the Senate changes, 27.6% of NSW voters completed ATL preferences at the 2019 Legislative Council election, and after experience at two further Senate elections in 2019 and 2022, the percentage of ballot papers at the 2023 Legislative Council election completed with ATL preferences rose to 39.2% .Read More »Increase in Voters Completing Preferences at the 2023 NSW Legislative Council Election

Background Paper on the 2023 NSW Election

I’ve prepared a preview publication on the NSW Legislative Assembly election for the NSW Parliamentary Library.

I won’t claim its an exciting publication. It’s a reference work that tabulates, for each electorate, results at the four elections from 2007 to 2019, plus references to the 2015 and 2021 redistributions.

The period covers four elections, beginning with a comfortable Labor victory in 2007, then tracking results through the landslide Coalition victory in 2011, then the 2015 and 2019 elections where Coalition support ebbed away.

Leaving the finely balanced Legislative Assembly that faces the electorate on 25 March.

You can find the publication at this link.

The analysis uses the four elections to categorise 2023 electorates as being safe for the Coalition or Labor, or the sort of electorates that change sides.

Unsurprisingly, the categories of electorates line up with the 2023 electoral pendulum.Read More »Background Paper on the 2023 NSW Election