Redistribution Archive


ACT redistribution finalised

The Australian Electoral Commission today announced the final boundaries for the ACT at the next federal election. They haven’t made any changes to the draft boundaries announced in September.

This means that the northern seat of Fraser will be renamed ‘Fenner’ after virologist Frank Fenner, freeing up the former name for a Victorian seat to be renamed after former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser.

Antony Green estimates that the ALP’s margin in Canberra will increase from 7% to 7.4%, and will stay the same in Fraser/Fenner, at 12.6%.

In other news, the AEC recently announced its final boundaries for Western Australia. Frustratingly, the AEC is delaying releasing the final detailed maps for both WA and the ACT until January. It’s not a big deal in the ACT where there are no changes, but the final announcement for WA refers to a number of “minor boundary changes” which aren’t explained, making it impossible to be sure of the new boundaries, although the substantive changes have been announced. For this reason, I’ll wait until January before completing the WA federal map.

You can download the ACT map here.


NSW redistribution – map complete

I’ve now completed the Google Earth map of the draft federal electoral boundaries for New South Wales.

Download the map here.

I’ve also produced a fusion table combining the map with the notional estimates of the two-party-preferred margin and primary votes for Labor, Coalition, Greens and others in the 47 new electorates.


Increase to Queensland malapportionment on the cards?

I’ve missed a story which has been quietly bubbling along for the last few months which could see a bill introduced by the opposition Liberal National Party passed, increasing the electoral bias in favour of large rural seats in the Queensland parliament. There are stories today suggesting the legislation could be passed as soon as tonight.

Queensland (along with most states) has a history of malapportionment in the 20th century. Malapportionment (often incorrectly termed a ‘gerrymander’) is where some electorates are drawn with a larger population than others, usually putting more voters in each urban seat and less in each rural seat. This has the effect of making the votes cast in more populous seats less valuable. For most of the twentieth century, this imbalance has favoured the conservative parties, with urban Labor voters packed into a smaller number of seats.

Most of these imbalances have been removed from Australia’s electoral system, with the Western Australian Legislative Assembly moving to ‘one-vote-one-value’ last decade, but a few parts remain.

There are a series of large electorates in northern and western Queensland which have a substantially lower enrolment than the rest of the state, thanks to a policy which grants “phantom electors” to large seats in proportion to their landmass.

All seats are required to fit within 10% of the quota, but seats that are larger than 100,000 square kilometres are allowed to count 2% of their square kilometres towards the quota. So for a seat which covers 200,000 square kilometres, they are allowed to have 4,000 less voters than the average. Robbie Katter’s seat of Mount Isa covers over 570,000 square kilometres, and has less than 20,000 voters, while most seats have between 30,000 and 40,000 voters.

I previously discussed the theory behind this approach back in June, when the NSW Nationals were lobbying for smaller seats in western NSW. While it is reasonable to provide greater resourcing for MPs covering large geographic areas, and it is a good argument for adding additional seats to the Parliament, malapportionment has clear party-political impacts which cannot be justified.

While Labor is in government in Queensland, the party does not have a majority. The opposition LNP has proposed a bill which would double the “phantom voter” allowance to 4% of the square kilometres in a seat, and add up to five more seats to the Parliament. The effect of this change would be to add a sixth seat to the area covered by the five large remote seats (Mount Isa, Dalrymple, Cook, Gregory and Warrego), and add four seats in the rest of Queensland, which covers over 95% of the state’s population.

It appears that the bill has the support of the two Katter’s Australian Party MPs, both of whom represent districts which benefit from the current malapportionment. With KAP and LNP supporting the legislation, the vote comes down to Billy Gordon, the member for Cook in Far North Queensland. Gordon was elected as a Labor MP but was expelled from the party earlier this year, and also represents a very large seat.

It’s unclear where Gordon stands on the issue, but there are reports that he is considering supporting the legislation, and it could be voted on as soon as this evening.

I normally try to avoid campaigning on this website but considering this issue I’m willing to make an exception. GetUp has set up a campaign to ask Queenslanders to email Billy Gordon or call his office to ask him to vote against the legislation. If you live in Queensland or care about fair electoral boundaries, give him a call now.


NSW redistribution – notional vote figures

I’ve been getting a bunch of questions about the relative strength of parties in the proposed new federal electorates which were released by the AEC yesterday.

William Bowe at Poll Bludger released notional two-party-preferred figures yesterday, and my calculations are pretty close to his, but I’ve also added primary vote figures for Labor, Coalition, Greens and “other”.

The AEC has released data on which ABS Statistical Area 1 units (the smallest analytic unit available) are in which seats, both on the existing boundaries and on the draft boundaries. I then mashed this up with Parliamentary Library data on how the primary vote and the two-party-preferred vote is estimated to have been split up by SA1 at the 2013 election to produce estimates.

The following table provides the 2PP for Labor at the 2013 election (you can derive the Coalition figure by subtracting the percentage from 100), the change in that 2PP due to the redistribution the primary vote for Labor, Coalition, Greens and other, and the proportion of the new electorate which was not in the existing electorate.

The table is below the fold. Enjoy!

Read the rest of this entry »


NSW redistribution, council amalgamations and SA reform

There’s been a lot of electoral news this morning! I’ll try to run through it all really quickly. I’ll be putting together the new NSW electoral map over the next week and I’ll try to find some time to cover the other issues.

NSW redistribution

The Australian Electoral Commission has released the draft map of the new New South Wales federal electoral boundaries.

The federal seats of Hunter and Charlton in the Hunter region have effectively been merged. The seat takes in more voters from Charlton, but has maintained the federation seat name of Hunter.

The seat of Throsby (covering the Southern Highlands and southern Illawarra) has been renamed Whitlam after the former prime minister. The seat of Parkes has taken in Broken Hill, while Farrer and Riverina have consolidated into southern NSW.

In inner Sydney, Grayndler has shifted north, losing Labor areas in southern Marrickville and Ashfield and gaining Balmain, Annandale and Drummoyne. The seat of Barton (currently held by the Liberal Party on a slim margin) has shifted into that gap, and presumably will become a notional Labor seat. The seat of Cook, which covers Cronulla, has jumped the Georges River to take in parts of the St George region.

I’ll be working on my map of the boundaries, which is likely to take most of the next week.

We would normally expect Antony Green to calculate the seat margins for the redistribution, but he’s currently in Canada for Monday’s Canadian federal election. I’m not currently equipped to do the calculations for such a large state but will look into it if we haven’t heard from Antony by the end of next week.

NSW local government amalgamations

We’re still waiting to hear from the NSW government about it’s plans for council amalgamations across Sydney but we’ve gotten a seemingly well-placed report in today’s Daily Telegraph with some details about the proposal, although they are in part contradictory.

In one part, it suggests that Sydney’s councils will be cut from the current 42 to about 20, and that about one third of the state’s 152 councils will be cut. But in the article and on the map there are seven council mergers proposed, which would cut the number of councils by eight – a long way short of cutting 22 councils from Sydney.

It also talks about “as many as 30 rural and regional councils” being abolished, but also suggests a reluctance to touch rural councils – 30 rural councils being abolished is a lot.

The mergers proposed are:

  • Manly and Warringah
  • Canada Bay, Burwood and Strathfield
  • North Sydney and Mosman
  • Hornsby and Ku-ring-gai
  • Bankstown and Canterbury
  • Randwick and Waverley
  • Auburn, Holroyd and southern parts of Parramatta (Granville mostly)

There’s an interesting mix here. Some very small councils such as Mosman, Burwood and Strathfield are on the chopping block, but other small councils such as Hunters Hill and Woollahra appear to be saved. Large councils like Warringah, Randwick, Bankstown and Hornsby are also set to merge, sometimes with reasonably large neighbours.

Considering these discrepancies, it appears these might only be some of the mergers planned.

The report also suggests a delay in council elections until March 2017, although it’s unclear if this would only be for affected councils, or the whole state.

Watch this space.

South Australian electoral reform

The South Australian government has announced plans for a raft of electoral changes, including introducing the possibility of double dissolution elections to resolve deadlocks.

Interestingly, it also involves the abolition of preference voting for the Legislative Council, moving instead to a party list system using the Saint-Lague counting method. This is very similar to how most proportional systems work in Europe.

There won’t be any preferences, with only primary votes used to distribute seats, according to a method which involves dividing the number of votes by a party by the number of seats they have won.

It’s quite a good system to use for list elections, as it is much much simpler than the way we elect our proportional houses in Australia, but it is problematic if it’s used in elections where not that many candidates are to be elected. It would work much better in SA if they also moved to four-year terms for the upper house, and thus elected 22 candidates instead of 11, but I can’t work out if that’s part of the package.

The reforms will be put to a referendum in 2018.


WA council elections – new ward map posted

Western Australia is currently undergoing regular council elections. It’s taken a while to pull together, but I’ve now completed an updated ward map for these elections.

You can download the 2013 and 2015 ward maps from the maps page. It’s quite a difficult task as there’s no central repository of information on wards, or how they’ve changed. If you notice any errors, please let me know.

Most WA councils conduct their elections via postal voting, apart from a few small rural councils which run their own elections. The election day is in less than two weeks, on October 17, although in practice most postal votes will be cast well in advance.


NT redistribution – boundaries finalised


The Northern Territory has been undergoing a redistribution for the 25 seats in the Legislative Assembly, and the final boundaries were released last week.

Quite substantial changes were made compared to the draft boundaries – it was basically an entirely new map. A number of seats that were renamed in the draft were restored to their original name.

Antony Green has calculated the margins for the seats here.

The overall trends were similar, with the creation of the new seat of Spillett straddling Darwin and Palmerston, and the abolition of one of the three seats in Alice Springs.

And you can download the Google Earth map here.


ACT redistribution – ‘Fraser’ renamed ‘Fenner’, loses southern edge

fennerdraftThe Australian Electoral Commission yesterday released draft electoral boundaries for the ACT’s two federal electorates.

At the moment, the ACT is covered by two seats: Canberra and Fraser. The boundary between these two seats follows the Molonglo River and Lake Burley Griffin which divide Canberra in half – all of the northern suburbs in Fraser, and all of the southern suburbs in Canberra.

Canberra’s northern suburbs has been growing faster than its southern suburbs, and this has pushed Fraser to be larger than the seat of Canberra, forcing the Committee to move some suburbs from Fraser to Canberra.

Download the map of the new ACT federal boundaries from this page.

The Committee has decided to move Civic and a number of neighbouring suburbs including Acton, Braddon, Campbell and Reid. In addition, the new estate of Molonglo Valley, which is only being developed now, was moved from Fraser to Canberra.

In addition, the Committee has renamed the seat of Fraser.

Fraser is currently named after Jim Fraser, who was previously the sole member representing the ACT in the House of Representatives. It is normal practice that seats are named after deceased former Prime Ministers, and with the recent death of Malcolm Fraser, the Committee decided to free up the name ‘Fraser’ to be used in the future as the name for a Victorian seat named after the former Prime Minister.

We are expecting a seat to be named after Gough Whitlam in the impending New South Wales redistribution, but the next Victorian redistribution is not due for at least three years, so in the meantime the seat name ‘Fraser’ is likely to be rested.

The former ‘Fraser’ has been renamed ‘Fenner’, after virologist Frank Fenner. Fenner died in 2010, and was a key figure in the global elimination of smallpox.

Interestingly, the Commission was split on whether there were strong reasons to rename the seat of Canberra, with two members supporting a change and two opposing, with the casting vote deciding against making a change. Those who supported change had preferred naming the seat ‘Churcher’ after Betty Churcher, former director of the National Gallery of Australia.


Redistribution updates – ACT and Brisbane

While I’ve been focusing on other projects, two of the ongoing redistributions have been finalised.

I covered the release of draft boundaries for redistributions for the ACT Legislative Assembly and the Brisbane City Council. In both cases, the final boundaries have now been released.

The ACT boundaries were first published as a draft at the end of March 2015, and were finalised in May. No changes were made between the draft boundaries and the final boundaries. You can read my analysis of the boundaries here.

The Brisbane City Council draft boundaries were released in July, with the final boundaries release in late August. There were a series of small changes to wards, while a majority of wards underwent no changes. The newly-renamed ward of Garden City reverted to its former name of Macgregor in the final version. Read my analysis of the draft boundaries here. I haven’t made any changes to my estimates of margins on the draft boundaries, as no polling places were moved on the final version.

You can download the maps from the maps page.

Brisbane ward boundaries are included in the Queensland wards map, which is currently incomplete as a number of other councils are still undergoing changes.

In other redistribution news, we’re expecting the draft boundaries for federal redistributions in NSW and the ACT to be released this month, and then we’ll be looking to see the final versions of the NT Legislative Assembly redistribution, the WA state redistribution and the WA federal redistribution.

I’m currently collecting information on WA ward changes, and in October and November will post updates of Victorian and Queensland wards in time for their 2016 elections.


WA federal redistribution – download the map

The draft proposed boundaries for the Western Australian federal redistribution were released last Friday.

Western Australia gained a sixteenth electorate, and this new electorate has been drawn in the south of Perth. The seat has been tentatively named ‘Burt’ and takes in parts of Canning, Hasluck and Tangney. Interestingly, the WA Electoral Commission also renamed the state seat of Alfred Cove as Burt in the ongoing state redistribution, and it’s unclear whether either redistribution process will see either of the newly-named seats given a new name, considering that the seats do not overlap at all.

The new electorate is notionally a marginal Liberal seat, and otherwise the number of seats remains at twelve Liberal and three Labor, although the margins have changed.

Both Antony Green and William Bowe have produced estimates of the margins in these new seats.

The biggest changes took place in eastern and southern Perth. The seat of Canning has been pushed further out of Perth by the creation of Burt, taking in areas from Brand and O’Connor. O’Connor loses areas to Durack, and gains Collie from Forrest.

In the eastern suburbs, the seat of Hasluck has been pushed out of the south-east by the creation of Burt, and has taken in the eastern hinterland of Perth from Pearce, making the seat semi-rural.

As always, I’ve produced a Google Earth map of the new boundaries. Download the map here.

And below is an interactive version of the map. Click on each seat to see the incumbent MP, and the old and new margins.