redistribution

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

Northern Territory Redistribution Finalised (and a Chief Minister Resigns)

Update 20 December – the new Chief Minister will be Eva Lawler. Minor changes have been made to post reflecting the change.

The resignation today of NT Chief Minister Natasha Fyles is bad news for the NT Labor government. It already faces a difficult re-election campaign in August 2024, and starting election year with a third Chief Minister this term is bad news for NT Labor, and good news for the Country Liberal opposition.

Thinking back through the last 50 years, I can think of three cases of government’s with three Premiers in a term. Queensland had three between 1986 and 1989, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Mike Ahern and Russell Cooper. NSW had three between 2007 and 2011, Morris Iemma, Nathan Rees and Kristina Keneally. Both governments were thrashed at the next election. The NSW Coalition had three Premier between 1973 and 1976, Bob Askin, Tom Lewis and Eric Willis. It lost narrowly at the 1976 election.

The circumstances of the transfers from Michael Gunner to Natasha Fyles to Eva Lawler are different to the Queensland and NSW cases above. The first two examples involved the dumping of two Premiers in sensational circumstances caused by party splits. The 1973-76 example had one retirement and one sudden replacement of a Premier.

The Northern Territory’s current situation concerns a Chief Minister retiring and another resigning over failure to disclose a pecuniary interest. Not quite as sensational.

But it is a bad start to an election year for a government that after two terms in office was starting to look old and ragged. And losing a Chief Minister, whatever the gravity of the transgression, is a negative for Labor, and a huge boost for Lia Finocchiaro and the Country Liberal Party.

Redistribution Finalised

This post was in progress before today’s political events unfolded. Last week the redistribution of the Northern Territory’s electoral boundaries was finalised ahead of the August 2024 election.

A very embarrassing “administrative oversight” had delayed the process of boundary drawing. Notices for the earlier stages of the redistribution were not gazetted as required by the Electoral Act. The NT Solicitor’s office advised that the process had to begin again. Despite the extended process, there have been very few changes since the first draft of boundaries were released early in 2023.

The redistribution has been undertaken to bring enrolments in divisions back within the permitted 20% variation from quota.
Read More »Northern Territory Redistribution Finalised (and a Chief Minister Resigns)

Western Australia State Redistribution – Final Boundaries Released

The WA Electoral Redistribution has released the final version of the electoral boundaries on which the next election will be fought.

The most significant change introduced by the new boundaries is the merging of the rural seats of Moore and North West Central to create a new seat called Mid-West. This merges two National-held seats into one, a decision that has already had consequences with National MLA for North West Central Merome Beard defecting to the Liberal Party.

The abolition of a regional seat is matched by the creation of a new seat in Perth. The new seat is called Oakford, covering growing suburbs between Armadale and the Kwinana Freeway. Unsurprisingly given the Labor landslide result in 2021, Oakford is a notional Labor seat.

In 2021 Labor won 53 seats to two Liberals and three Nationals. On the old boundaries the Liberals and Nationals needed a uniform swing of 23.4% to gain the 24 seats needed for government. The new boundaries do little to alter the swing needed.

Full detail of the change of margin for all seats can be found inside the post. But first, here’s my calculations for the new electoral pendulum. Seats gained by Labor at the 2021 election are underlined, which gives perspective on the size of the swing needed just to bring the Coalition back to its position after the 2017 election.

Read More »Western Australia State Redistribution – Final Boundaries Released

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

Northern Territory Redistribution – Take 2

The Northern Territory Electoral Commission has released its first draft of the Territory’s new electoral boundaries. The boundaries are now open for public comment. Once the redistribution is finalised, the new boundaries will apply for the next Northern Territory election in August 2024.

Those who have been paying attention will know this is actually the second time a first draft set of new boundaries has been released. A very embarrassing “administrative oversight” meant the first attempt at the redistribution had to be abandoned for legal reasons I outline inside this post.

The abandoned redistribution had reached the second draft stage of the process before being terminated. This new first draft is the same as the previous second stage draft though with updated enrolment numbers. I previously analysed these boundaries at the abandoned second stage. You can read about the new margins in this post from August.
Read More »Northern Territory Redistribution – Take 2

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

Northern Territory Redistribution – Draft Boundaries take 2

UPDATE: A very embarrassing “administrative oversight” means that the release of the final boundaries, due in September, has had to be abandoned. Notices for the earlier stages of the redistribution were not gazetted as required by the Electoral Act. The NT Solicitor’s office has advised that the process must begin again. It seems unlikely that this will substantially alter the boundaries drawn under the now abandoned process, but it is embarrassing and means the boundaries to be used for the 2024 election won’t be finalised until the new year.

The timeline for the initial stages of the re-started process is –

  • Public suggestions open (30 days) – Monday 11 September 2023
  • Public suggestions close – Wednesday 11 October 2023
  • Comments on suggestions received open (14 days) – Thursday 12 October 2023
  • Comments on suggestions received close – Thursday 26 October 2023
  • First proposed redistribution released – Monday 30 October 2023
  • Objections to first proposed redistribution open (30 days) – Monday 30 October 2023
  • Objections against first proposed redistribution close – Wednesday 29 November 2023

The original commentary on the second draft is inside this post.
Read More »Northern Territory Redistribution – Draft Boundaries take 2

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

2023 Northern Territory Redistribution – Draft Boundaries Released

(UPDATE: The second version of the draft boundaries have been released. You can find my analysis of them in this post.)

The Northern Territory Redistribution Committee has this afternoon released its draft boundaries for the NT’s 25 Legislative Assembly divisions.

You can find the details on the NT Electoral Commission website.

The redistribution has been undertaken to bring enrolments in divisions back within the permitted 10% variation from quota.

As of 17 April, there were a total of 147,798 voters enrolled to vote with the average enrolment per division at 5,911 per division. Given the small electorate sizes, the Committee will update the enrolment data through the process. All enrolments at the end of the process must be within 10% of the quota.

On current enrolments, only Splillett was outside of the permitted variation, 17.8% over quota.

Five divisions were more than 5% under quota, Barkly, Gwoja, Fannie Bay, Fong Lim and Sanderson. Another three were 5-10% over quota, Drysdale, Mulka and Wanguri.

I was going to write a long post on the redistribution, but the boundaries have been released a day earlier than I expected, plus the draft boundaries involve only minor changes and no seats change political allegiance on my estimated new margins. More inside the post.Read More »2023 Northern Territory Redistribution – Draft Boundaries Released