federal

Proposed Federal Electoral Boundaries Released for Western Australia

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) will release draft electoral boundaries for Western Australia on Friday, the time provisionally set for lunchtime AEST. Western Australia will be gaining a seat in the redistribution, the number of members to be elected at the next election increased from 15 to 16 seats.

Once the draft boundaries are released I’ll give a brief comment on the newly created seat, but it will take time and some serious number crunching to work out the full consequences of the new boundaries.

I’ve now double checked every discrepancy and my figures are final.

The major changes are that the new seat of Bullwinkel is a marginal Labor seat, Hasluck is made safer for Labor and Canning is made more marginal for the Liberal Party.

The new electorate is named in honour of Lieutenant Colonel Vivian Bullwinkel AO MBE ARRC ED FNM FRCNA (1915–2000), a civilian and military nurse who was the sole survivor of the 1942 Bangka Island massacre and a prisoner of war. The name recognises her dedication to honouring victims of war crimes, service to nursing, and the community, in both her civilian and military service. This electoral division name also honours the contribution of military medical personnel and recognises those who were prisoners of war.

The table below of seats held by party will be updated during my various parses of the data.

Change in Seats Held by Party
Labor Liberal Independent Total
Old boundaries 9 5 1 15
New boundaries 10 5 1 16

Based on the two-party preferred results, including the underlying Labor-Coalition nature of the Independent held seat of Curtin, the changes in two-party preferred holdings are –

  • Old Boundaries 2PP: Labor 9, Liberal 6
  • New Boundaries 2PP: Labor 10, Liberal 6

A seat table comparing margins can be found inside the post.Read More »Proposed Federal Electoral Boundaries Released for Western Australia

Proposed Federal Boundaries Released for Victoria

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) will release draft electoral boundaries for Victoria today, the time set as some time between 12:30 and 2:30. Victoria will be losing a seat in the redistribution, the number of members to be elected reduced from 39 to 38 seats.

Once the draft boundaries are released I’ll give a brief comment on which seat has been abolished, but it will take time and some serious number crunching to work out the full consequences of the new boundaries.

Update 7pm Friday After fixing problems with a changed numbering system for SA1s, I’ve tidied all the estimates. The summary is that the Labor seat of Higgins is abolished but the Liberal seat of Menzies becomes a marginal Labor seat. The Liberal seat of Deakin is weakened for the Liberal Party and Wills is weakened for Labor in a contest versus the Greens.

The Greens versus Labor margin for Melbourne is not right but I don’t have time work out the problem tonight. A better estimated margin has now been calculated for Melbourne. Other independent contests now have better estimated margins.

** Sunday update on Kooyong The re-drawn seat of Kooyong includes around 30,000 voters from the abolished seat of Higgins. This is around a quarter of the voters in the re-drawn Kooyong. This is an area where Independent Monique Ryan was not on the ballot paper in 2022 and if you do a straight vote transfer and then apply preferences, you get an Independent v Liberal margin of 0.8%, down from 2.9%. This is not a realistic margin as clearly Monique Ryan will attract votes in the area added from Higgins.

Compared to the 2022 Liberal 2PP margin versus Labor, the new boundaries produces a slight dip in the Liberal margin versus Labor. I suspect that movement slightly improves Ryan’s margin versus the Liberal Party, but there is no way to calculate a margin without coming up with an estimate of how Ryan will poll in the transferred parts of Higgins where she was not on the ballot paper in 2022.

I’ve removed my earlier margin from the table below because it is being quoted as suggesting the Liberal position in Kooyong has been significantly improved. That is not my opinion.

** Sunday update on Goldstein I’ve removed the estimated Independent margin for Goldstein for the same reasons. Transferring votes and re-calculating preferences gives a new Independent v Liberal margin of 2.7%, down from 2.9% on the old boundaries. The changes to Goldstein are smaller than for Kooyong. The Liberal 2PP margin dips on the new boundaries and I think the same may apply to the Independent versus Liberal margin.

Change in Seat Numbers

The table below of seats held by party will be updated during my various parses of the data.

Change in Seats Held by Party
ALP LIB NAT GRN IND Total
Old boundaries 24 8 3 1 3 39
New boundaries 24 7 3 1 3 38
With by-elections 25 6 3 1 3 38

Note: By-election line takes account of Labor winning Aston from the Liberal Party at an April 2023 by-election. Table does not take account of the decision by Monash MHR Russell Broadbent to resign from the Liberal Party and become an Independent.

Based on the two-party preferred results, including the underlying Labor-Coalition nature of Independent and Greens held seat, the changes in two-party preferred holdings are –

  • Old Boundaries 2PP: Labor 25, Coalition 14 (Liberal 11, National 3)
  • New Boundaries 2PP: Labor 25, Coalition 13 (Liberal 10, National 3)
  • Including by-elections: Labor 26, Coalition 12 (Liberal 9, National 3)

Seat tables can be found inside the post.Read More »Proposed Federal Boundaries Released for Victoria

Redistribution begins for Northern Territory Federal Boundaries

Today marks seven years since the Northern Territory’s current federal electoral boundaries were first gazetted. Under the ‘seven-year rule’ in Section 59 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, a redistribution of the NT’s federal boundaries must commence within 30 days.

The NT’s redistribution will differ from those currently underway in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia. The other state redistributions have been triggered by a change in seat entitlements under Section 24 of the Constitution. New South Wales and Victoria will both lose a seat, Western Australia gain a seat. The seat numbers will be unchanged at two for the NT redistribution.

Seven-year rule redistributions can be deferred if they commence within twelve months of the expiry date for the House of Representatives. The deferral deadline in 2024 is May, meaning seven-year rule redistributions due for Tasmania in November and Queensland in March 2025 will be deferred until after the next election.

But the Northern Territory redistribution will go ahead. With only two seats involved, the process of drawing boundaries will be easily completed before the next election is due. Unlike with change of seat number redistributions, there are no complications if an early election is called because the existing NT divisions would remain in place.

While unlikely to have major political implications, it is worth looking at the NT redistribution to examine how the NT briefly lost its second seat in 2020, and also to observe how the Australian Electoral Commission’s Indigenous enrolment drive before the 2023 referendum has increased remote enrolment.
Read More »Redistribution begins for Northern Territory Federal Boundaries

Background on Federal By-election Swings

Federal politics will soon kick into gear for 2024 with campaigning for the Dunkley by-election, likely to be held in late February or early March.

The by-election has been caused by the sad death of former Labor MP Peta Murphy, who succumbed to breast cancer at the end of 2023. It will be the third by-election since the election of the Albanese government in May 2022.

You can find more on the seat of Dunkley and the by-election in my seat profile on the ABC Elections site.

The by-election will be a test for Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and the Labor Party, keen to retain what is a marginal seat despite its on-paper electoral buffer of 6.3%.

It will also be a challenge for the Liberal Party and Opposition Leader Peter Dutton. After the Liberal Party’s historic loss at last April’s Aston by-election, the opposition needs a good result in Dunkley to confirm recent improvement in opinion polls.

But there are arguments for and against whether Dunkley will be a good test of the national electoral mood.

Being fought in Victoria, currently Labor’s strongest state, can Dunkley be viewed as representative of the national electorate? The 2022 federal election reduced the Liberal Party to just eight of 39 Victorian seats, since cut to seven seats by the Aston loss. Only two of those seats, Deakin and Menzies, are entirely suburban.

The Liberal Party has also performed badly in Victorian state politics, losing six of the last seven state elections. There was a swing to the Coalition at the November 2022 state election but the Liberal Party lost seats and has since been dealing with internal party recriminations.

Arguing for the by-election’s importance, Dunkley is the sort of outer-suburban seat the Liberal Party needs to start winning if it hopes to overcome the loss of once blue ribbon Liberal seats to Independents.

Dunkley includes some newer housing estates where interest rate rises have bitten. Across the electorate there are families who are feeling the effects of inflation.

Based on national opinion polls, there is not enough movement to predict the Liberal Party will win Dunkley.

But by-elections are an opportunity for voters to send a message when the government’s fate is not in play. Will the anti-government swing common at by-elections be large enough to deliver victory to the Liberal Party?

The swing needed is 6.3%, and Labor achieved a 6.4% swing the other way to win Aston. Covering the full period since Federation, the average anti-government swing is a little under 4%.

More recently there have been 52 by-elections since the election of the Hawke government in 1983. Of those, 28 were traditional two-party contests between Labor and the Coalition, the type of contest we will see in Dunkley.

Across the 28 two-party by-elections, the average anti-government two-party preferred swing was 3.5%. It was 4.7% against Labor governments in 17 contests, and 2.3% against Coalition governments in another 11.

Of the 28 by-elections, 15 were in government held seats and 13 in seats held by an opposition party. The average swing against government in government held seats was 5.4% compared to only 1.2% in Opposition held seats.

At the eight by-elections in Labor seats during Labor governments, the average swing was 8.2% compared to 2.3% in seven similar contests during Coalition governments.

The Labor Party had an astonishingly good result in Aston, in contrast to poor first term by-election results for Labor governments led by Bob Hawke and Kevin Rudd. Under both Hawke and Rudd, Labor was further ahead in polls than the Albanese government at the time of its Aston victory.

Not that average swings are a useful measure given the wide variety of swings at by-elections. Swings are more about the time specific circumstances of a by-election and are not always comparable with an average calculated over several decades.

Larger swings than required in Dunkley afflicted the Hawke government at third term by-elections in 1988. The Adelaide and Port Adelaide by-elections, fought on the now forgotten issue of timed local calls for home phones, cost the government Adelaide and produced a double digit swing in Port Adelaide. Another double digit swing struck at the Oxley by-election later the same year. Labor’s position in all three seats was restored at the 1990 election when the Hawke government was narrowly re-elected.

Not so with the 16.2% swing that delivered a rare Liberal win in the ACT at the 1995 Canberra by-election. Labor recovered Canberra at the 1996 election, but it was a pallid highlight amidst the wreckage of the Keating government’s defeat.

Going further back in time to June 1975, the famous Bass by-election produced a Liberal gain after a 14.3% swing, accurately predicting the Labor Party’s fate under Gough Whitlam later in the year.

The biggest anti-government swing under a Coalition government was in the Brisbane seat of Ryan in March 2001. Labor won the seat after a 9.7% swing. John Howard famously described the result as not a repeat of Bass and Canberra, and the Howard government recovered Ryan and was re-elected to office at the 2001 election.

So will the by-election produce an average anti-government swing and see Labor retain Dunkley, or will we see larger swing that delivers victory to the Liberal Party?

Either way, the Dunkley by-election will set the frame for politics in the first half of 2024.

For more on the Dunkley by-election, see my profile of the electorate and candidates at the ABC website.

And for more on by-elections and results, read on in this post.
Read More »Background on Federal By-election Swings

Submissions Published for Victorian Federal Redistribution

Victoria is currently undergoing a redistribution of federal electoral boundaries that will reduce the state’s representation from 39 seats to 38.

This has come about due to Section 24 of the Constitution which determines state representation in the House of Representatives. I published a post in June explaining how the allocation of House of Representatives seats to states is assessed one year into each term or parliament.

Using the formula set out in Section 24 of the Constitution, it was determined that New South Wales and Victoria will each lose a seat for the next Federal election, while Western Australia will gain a seat. The size of the House of Representatives will be reduced from 151 seats to 150.

The change in numbers has triggered a redistribution in all three states. In the last month I have published posts looking at the major party proposals for New South Wales and Western Australia. Both posts include links to earlier posts looking at how projected enrolment numbers will drive the redistributions in each state.

With today’s release by the AEC of submissions to the Victorian redistribution, it is time to look at what the major parties have suggested for Victoria. For background on how the Victorian redistribution might unfold, you can read my previous post on the projected enrolment data.

I had planned to write a summary of the various submission yesterday but the submissions were not published until evening. I will update this post with key suggestions made in the party submissions. You can find all 63 lodged submissions at the AEC website. The submissions are now open for comment by the public as set out on the AEC website.

You will note there is no Liberal Party submission. I understand the party missed the deadline for submission, but you can find what they proposed to submit on the Victorian Liberal Party’s website. Having missed the suggestions deadline, the Liberal Party will submit it as part of the Comments process before the Commissioners draw draft boundaries.
Read More »Submissions Published for Victorian Federal Redistribution

Submissions Published for WA Federal redistribution

Proposals for the re-draw of WA’s federal electoral boundaries closed on Friday with submissions published today by the Australian Electoral Commission today.

There are 21 submissions in all. Understandably the greatest interest is in the proposals submitted by the Liberal and Labor Parties.

Both parties create a new seat based on the Darling Range in Perth’s east. The Liberal submission is for a new seat named Court that extends east into rural areas. Labor’s proposal is for a new seat called Farmer that runs south west into the Perth metropolitan area.

(I published a post several months ago on how the redistribution might unfold based on enrolment numbers.)

And the two submissions adopt different strategies in key parts of the Perth metropolitan area.

Note – maps taken from party submissions. The Liberal Party submission included maps of all proposed divisions. The Labor Party’s submission only included a map of the proposed Farmer.Read More »Submissions Published for WA Federal redistribution

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

2022 Federal Election Date Named plus links to my Election Guide

So the 2022 Australian federal election will be held on Saturday 21 May. That’s three years to the weekend since the last election.

The wild theories that the Prime Minister would delay the House election until later in the year proved to be, as expected, completely wrong.

The relevant dates for the election are:

Dissolution and Issue of Writs – tomorrow, Monday 11 April

Close of Rolls – Monday 18 April. This is Easter Monday so the Easter break will complicate people trying to enrol or update their details. You can find the AEC’s new enrolment page here, and update enrolment form here.

Close of Nominations – Thursday 21 April. Ballot draw and release of nominations will be on Friday 22 April. Postal votes will not be sent to voters until after the close of nominations, which means after the Anzac Day weekend.

Postal Vote ApplicationsCan be applied for now through the AEC website. You must apply for a postal vote by Wednesday 18 May, but you are better applying well before the close of application date if you hope to receive your postal vote pack before polling day.

Pre-poll-Voting begins – Monday 9 May. Note that the Electoral Act has been changed since 2019 to shorten pre-poll voting to two weeks instead of three.

Polling Day – Saturday 21 May.

The election period is six weeks instead of the usual five. This means there are four weeks between close of nominations and polling day. With pre-poll voting now limited to two weeks, people cannot vote in person until four weeks into the election campaign.

However, it is likely that political parties will flood the electorate with postal vote applications in the two weeks before pre-poll starts encourage people to vote by post. Read my notes on postal voting inside this port.

Inside the post I also include links to my background material on the 2022 Federal election at the ABC election website.
Read More »2022 Federal Election Date Named plus links to my Election Guide

John Alexander’s Retirement opens up the contest in Bennelong

The announcement today that Liberal MP for Bennelong John Alexander will retire at the 2022 election prompts an obvious question – will it hurt Liberal prospects in the seat?

It is strange to suggest that a seat with a Liberal margin of 6.9%, that has been won by Labor only once in its 73 years of existence, could be put as risk by Alexander’s resignation.

But that Labor victory in 2007, when Maxine McKew defeated Prime Minister John Howard, lives on as one of the most remarkable moments in Australian election night history.

Mention Bennelong and Labor true believers dream the seat can deliver another magic moment for them.

But how vulnerable is Bennelong? Here’s my mini-guide to the seat.Read More »John Alexander’s Retirement opens up the contest in Bennelong

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