Redistribution Archive

ACT redistribution – wanna play?

The ACT Electoral Commission has now started the process of drawing new electoral boundaries for the 2016 ACT election, and I have previously written about this impending redistribution.

This redistribution is particularly interesting because the number of seats in the ACT Legislative Assembly is increasing from 17 to 25, which will require a wholescale redrawing of the three existing electorates into five equal-sized electorates.

As part of the redistribution, the Electoral Commission has now released enrolment figures for each suburb in Canberra, and a nifty tool that allows members of the public to allocate suburbs to electorates to create your own electoral map, and then officially submit it directly to the commission.

The main point of interest for me is that the enrolment for Belconnen and Gungahlin is collectively large enough to justify exactly two electorates. This should mean that the Gungahlin seat will not have to include parts of the inner north of Canberra.

While there is still room for different boundaries, it seems reasonably clear where the seats will be drawn. There will be a seat entirely within Belconnen, and a second seat covering Gungahlin and the remaining suburbs of Belconnen. A third seat will pretty much just cover the inner north and the inner south, and the south of Canberra will be split into two seats – probably one focused on Tuggeranong and another focused on Woden.

Here is one scenario I have plotted out – what do you think?

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

A new seat of Whitlam?

With the recent death of former Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, discussion has already started about the possibility of creating a federal electorate bearing his name. With a federal redistribution due for New South Wales in 2015, there appears to be a real possibility that an electorate bearing the name ‘Whitlam’ could be contested for the first time at the 2016 federal election.

Most Westminster parliamentary systems use geographic descriptors to name their electorates. Australian state electorates in most cases take the name of a key suburb in their electorate, and names tend to change often as suburbs shift between seats. New Zealand electorates follow a similar model. Constituencies in the United Kingdom and Canada also use geographic names, but often pair two or more geographic names together if a seat has more than one major centre (eg. Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission in Canada, or Houghton and Sunderland South in the UK).

Australian federal electorates have followed a different naming convention, often using names that are not tied to a particular geographic area and can maintain their ‘identity’ even while some of the suburbs within the seat may change. A majority of federal electorates are named after prominent Australians. There are a number of electorates that still carry the names of geographic areas, but most of these are holdovers from an earlier era, and in most cases are named after major centres (eg. Sydney, Melbourne, Newcastle, Fremantle).

The Australian Electoral Commission issues guidelines for naming divisions, which indicates a preference for naming new divisions after prominent deceased Australians, and in particular suggests naming seats after Prime Ministers. It also looks to protect seats with indigenous names, or with names that date to the first federal Parliament in 1901, and discourages the use of geographic names or duplicating the name of a state electorate.

There is a federal division carrying the surname of every Prime Minister to serve before Gough Whitlam (it’s unclear to me whether the seat of Cook in southern Sydney is solely named for Captain James Cook, or also for former Liberal prime minister Joseph Cook, but there is a seat with the name).

There has been wide variation in how quickly the AEC has acted to create a seat named after a Prime Minister following their death.

  • John Gorton – died 2002, seat of Burke renamed Gorton for 2004 election. Gorton is in the outer western suburbs of Melbourne, whereas John Gorton represented Higgins in the eastern suburbs.
  • William McMahon – died 1988, seat of Prospect renamed McMahon for 2010 election. McMahon is in the western suburbs of Sydney, whereas William McMahon represented Lowe in the inner west. At the 2009 redistribution, the seat of Lowe was renamed Reid, with the seat of Reid effectively abolished.
  • Frank Forde – died 1983, new seat of Forde created in 1984 when Queensland was given five additional electorates. Forde covers the southern fringe of Brisbane around the Logan area, whereas Frank Forde represented Capricornia in central Queensland.
  • John McEwen – died 1980, new seat of McEwen created in 1984 when Victoria was given five additional electorates. McEwen covers rural areas to the north of Melbourne, while John McEwen represented Murray and Indi, both in northern Victoria.
  • Robert Menzies – died 1978, new seat of Menzies created in 1984. Menzies covers parts of Eastern Melbourne, and is adjacent to Robert Menzies’ former seat of Kooyong.
  • Arthur Fadden – died 1973, new seat of Fadden created in 1977. Fadden was first drawn to cover southern Brisbane, but now covers northern parts of the Gold Coast. Arthur Fadden first represented the Darling Downs in southern rural Queensland, and then McPherson, which at the time covered the southern Gold Coast and large areas further west but has since contracted into the Gold Coast.
  • Harold Holt – presumed dead 1967, new seat of Holt created in 1969. Holt is on the south-eastern fringe of Melbourne, whereas Harold Holt represented Higgins in the inner east of Melbourne.

Looking at the five most recent examples, we see some broad trends. Firstly, most Prime Ministers tend to get seats named after them not long after they died – it was less than five years in five out of seven cases. In the case of Robert Menzies, the seat was created six years after his death. Billy McMahon’s case is the only exception – a seat was not created for 21 years after his death.

In the case of the three Prime Ministers who died in the late 1970s and early 1980s, it was relatively easy for the Electoral Commission to name seats after them in the 1984 redistribution, which was triggered by the addition of over twenty new seats to the House of Representatives. A large number of prominent Australians were honoured with electorate names, including three Prime Ministers (the longest-serving PM, and two of the shortest-serving PMs).

In the two most recent cases, seats were renamed, rather than a new seat being created. This is likely to be the same in the case of Whitlam.

There is also a trend in terms of what areas are graced with the name of a former Prime Minister. In all cases, the former Prime Minister’s seat lies in the state they represented in the Parliament, but often does not cover the same area. The seats of Menzies, McEwen and Fadden cover roughly similar areas. McMahon is a little bit further away, while Holt, Forde and Gorton cover wildly different areas. You can also see this with earlier Prime Ministers – Edmund Barton represented the Hunter region, but his seat lies in southern Sydney. Billy Hughes represented central Sydney, northern Sydney and briefly Bendigo, but his seat covers parts of south-western Sydney and the Sutherland Shire.

The AEC has also never paid any consideration to giving Prime Ministers’ names to seats that their party now represents – many seats named after Prime Ministers are very safe seats for the opposing party.

So what are the options for a seat named ‘Whitlam’? I think it’s safe to assume that the seat will lie in New South Wales, where Whitlam lived much of his life and where he served as an MP. Conveniently, New South Wales is due for a redistribution next year, due to the NSW population not keeping up with the rest of the country, which will necessitate a reduction of NSW seats in the Parliament from 48 to 47. Unfortunately there is no prospect of New South Wales gaining additional seats in the near future, so a new seat of Whitlam will have to be a new name for an existing seat.

WSseats-WhitlamI also think the best option for a seat of Whitlam lies in Western Sydney, which he represented in Parliament and is particularly seen as connected to the Whitlam legacy. There are a large number of seats in Western Sydney, many of which have good reasons why the AEC would not want to replace the existing name with ‘Whitlam':

  • Werriwa – the seat Gough Whitlam represented from 1952 to 1978. The seat has an indigenous name, and is an original Federation electorate, which may see it saved. On the other hand, ‘Werriwa’ is a reference to Lake George in southern NSW, which was contained in the electorate in 1901. It bears little relevance to the south-western Sydney area that the seat now covers, and Whitlam may make more sense as a seat name.
  • Fowler – immediately north of Werriwa, covering much of the areas that lay in Werriwa when Whitlam sat in Parliament. The seat is named after Lilian Fowler, who was the first female Mayor in Australia when she served as Mayor of Newtown, and then went on to sit as a Lang Labor MP in the NSW state Parliament in the late 1940s. There are very few seats named after women, but she is much less prominent a figure than Gough Whitlam.
  • Hughes - also substantially overlaps with the area Gough Whitlam represented, but is already named after a Prime Minister.
  • McMahon – partially overlaps withthe area Gough Whitlam represented, but is already named after a Prime Minister.
  • Blaxland – Whitlam did not represent this area, but was still a significant beneficiary of the Whitlam legacy. The current name can be confusing, considering the name of the town of Blaxland in the Blue Mountains – quite a long way away from the electorate. It is also worth bearing in mind that this seat could eventually be an appropriate seat to be renamed after Paul Keating when that time comes.
  • Parramatta – An original electorate, but as a geographic name that is also used for the City Council and state electorate (both of which have different boundaries) it can be quite confusing. Previous electoral redistributions have also brought Parramatta close to shifting out of the Parramatta CBD, so a more flexible name may make life easier for the boundary commissioners.
  • Chifley - named after a Prime Minister, and not an area that Whitlam represented.
  • Greenway – named after colonial architect Francis Greenway.
  • Lindsay – named after Australian artist Norman Lindsay.

There are clearly a number of options, none of them perfect, and I expect we will see a variety of submissions by political parties and others during the redistribution process.

To my mind, I think the most likely seats to be renamed are Parramatta or Werriwa. They are the only seats in the region not to be named after a prominent Australian, and while they are both Federation names, their geographic descriptions are either constraining (in the case of Parramatta) or irrelevant (in the case of Werriwa).

I also think there is an outside chance that the commissioners could rename Fowler, Lindsay or Greenway, as those seats are not already named after Prime Ministers.

What do you think?

Werriwa – a century of shifting boundaries

Werriwa boundaries, 1900 redistribution. Click to enlarge.

Werriwa boundaries, 1900 redistribution. Click to enlarge.

Gough Whitlam represented the federal electorate of Werriwa from a 1952 by-election until his resignation in 1978. The electorate has a long history of being held by Labor, ever since the 1930s. From 1934 until 2005, the seat was only held by four MPs, three of whom rose to a high rank in the federal ALP. Gough Whitlam from 1952 to 1978, and then John Kerin from 1978 to 1994 and Mark Latham from 1994 to 2005. Kerin served as Treasurer in the Hawke government, and Latham led the ALP to the 2004 election. From 1954 to 2005, every change of MP in Werriwa took place at a by-election.

The 2005 by-election was won by Chris Hayes, who held the seat until 2010. In 2010, he shifted to the seat of Fowler, immediately north of Werriwa, and Laurie Ferguson, who had represented Reid since 1990, took over Werriwa.

I have a particular personal interest in Werriwa. I lived in the electorate for most of my life until 2010, and ran in the electorate in 2004 and at the 2005 by-election.

Werriwa is a particularly fascinating seat, and that’s what I want to cover today.

Werriwa has existed continuously as a federal electorate since 1901, but the seat covers a very different area today to its original territory in 1901. Werriwa originally covered a large part of southern New South Wales, including Lake George (which gives the seat its name) and what is now the northern suburbs of Canberra.

With the use of historical maps, I’m going to trace how Werriwa shifted regions gradually over time, moving from a southern NSW rural electorate to a suburban seat in south-western Sydney.

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ACT redistribution – 17 to 25

While I was away in the US, the ACT Legislative Assembly officially voted to increase the number of seats in the Assembly from 17 to 25.

The Assembly is currently elected from three electorates: one electing seven MLAs, and the other two electing five MLAs each.

The new Assembly will be elected from five equal-sized electorates, each electing five MLAs.

This will require the three existing electorates to effectively be redrawn out of existence, with the two five-member electorates shrinking to cover a smaller area, and the middle electorate of Molonglo being broken apart.

In March, I analysed the possible electoral boundaries that could be drawn with the ACT’s current population, and you can read that here.

Not a great amount has changed since then.

The ACT’s population is contained within seven ‘districts':

  • Belconnen
  • Gungahlin
  • North Canberra (the ‘inner north’)
  • South Canberra (the ‘inner south’)
  • Tuggeranong
  • Weston Creek
  • Woden Valley

The ACT is currently developing an eighth district named ‘Molonglo’ but it does not yet contain a substantial population.

Using the population estimates for each suburb from the last redistribution in 2008, you can get a good sense of the options. Bear in mind that each electorate will need to have approximately 20% of the ACT population within it. The current legislation allows electorates to diverge from the average by up to 10% at the time of the redistribution, and by up to 5% of the estimated population at the time of the next election.

District Enrolment as of Jan 2011 Projected enrolment as of Oct 2012
Belconnen 26.10 25.65
Gungahlin 10.74 12.00
North Canberra 13.00 13.11
South Canberra 7.55 7.58
Tuggeranong 25.59 25.25
Weston Creek 6.96 6.52
Woden Valley 9.74 9.62
Other 0.31 0.28

Belconnen is well over 20% of the population, so there will be an electorate based mostly if not entirely within Belconnen. The combined population of Belconnen and Gungahlin is close to, but not quite, 40% of ACT enrolment. It is possible this population will continue growing, and will allow for two complete electorates in the Gungahlin-Belconnen area, or the Gungahlin-based electorate may need to take in a small part of North Canberra.

North Canberra and South Canberra together make up between 20% and 21% of the total ACT enrolment. There will definitely be an electorate that covers most of this area – if it fits within the quota, and the northern electorates don’t need to extend into the inner north, it would make sense to have a single electorate covering all of the inner north and inner south.

Tuggeranong in the south, like Belconnen, makes up more than 20% of the population, so it seems likely that there will be a Tuggeranong electorate.

The combined Tuggeranong-Weston-Woden area make up just over 40% of the population, so there will almost certainly be an electorate covering the remainder of Tuggeranong, as well as most of Weston Creek and Woden Valley. The precise population figures will determine if it will be possible to contain this entire region into two electorates, or if the inner north-inner south seat will have to spill over into the area.

There will be some room for negotiation and discussion over the detailed boundaries – the population thresholds will allow those making submissions to choose different ways to divide the population, and there will be disagreement about which electorates should be drawn over-population and under-population.

In addition, there will be flexibility in terms of which suburbs of Belconnen and Tuggeranong are contained in the electorates contained entirely within those districts, and which suburbs are combined with the neighbouring districts.

This redistribution is scheduled to commence in October 2014, according to Elections ACT.

WA redistribution – what could happen?

In 2015, New South Wales and Western Australia will both undergo redistributions to redraw federal electoral boundaries due to New South Wales losing its 48th seat and Western Australia gaining its 16th seat. Yesterday I looked at enrolment numbers in NSW seats, and how that redistribution might play out.

In Western Australia, boundaries will be drawn to create a sixteenth electorate. Each electorate will need to be within 10% of the quota, based on 2015 population, and within 3.5% of a quota based on projected population in three and a half years.

Based on April population, all but one of Western Australia’s existing seats is over quota, with Canning over quota by 14%.

The enormous northern electorate of Durack is just under quota, and will probably require no change.

Population growth has been greatest in the electorates of Brand, Canning and Pearce, as well as Fremantle. These four seats are all at least 10% over quota.

Overall, the three regional seats of Durack, O’Connor and Forrest are 9% over quota.

The five electorates south of the river are 44% over quota, while the six electorates north of the river are 39% over quota. The one seat to the east of the river, Hasluck, is 8% over quota.

The most likely outcome will see seats across Perth contracting in size, and effectively the seat of Hasluck will be broken in half, into two eastern seats, one in the north and one in the south, while there will be minimal changes in regional WA.

NSW redistribution – what could happen?

Every three years, approximately one year after the federal election, Australia’s population is assessed, and each state and territory is given a set number of seats to be filled in the next Parliament, based on population. When the number of seats allocated to a state changes, a redistribution is immediately triggered to draw up new electoral boundaries.

This time around, population shifts have guaranteed that New South Wales will lose its 48th seat, and Western Australia will gain a 16th seat. It now appears that the ACT’s population will not be sufficient to give them a third seat, after it first appeared to be possible in late 2013.

These redistributions will by necessity cause significant changes to borders, in order to create a whole new seat in WA and squeeze NSW’s populations into 47 seats.

Electorates will need to be drawn to be within two quotas. A quota is drawn up as the average population per electorate as of the time of the redistribution, and another one which is the average projected population of each new electorate as of 3.5 years after the conclusion of the redistribution. These quotas will be 1/47th of the NSW population, and 1/16th of the WA population.

Below the fold, I’ve posted my analysis of the likely trends in the NSW redistribution, and have produced an interactive map showing the population quotas in each electorate.

In short, I think the seat most likely to be abolished is Hunter, which will have significant knock-on effects in the Hunter region and in western NSW. Seats in inner Sydney will shift east, while seats throughout Western Sydney will expand in size in southwestern direction, shifting Werriwa and Macarthur further into the fringe of Sydney.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a similar analysis of the prospects in Western Australia.

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NZ electorate map finalised

In the lead-up to the New Zealand election in September, the final map of electoral boundaries was released last Thursday. The changes are relatively minor in most seats, although a large number of electorates saw some change in comparison to the draft boundaries.

Back in October I posted an extensive analysis of the draft boundaries. I won’t repeat all of the same analysis, but I have updated the data to reflect the final version.

You can downloaded the following updated files:

And following the fold I have posted my estimated margins of the new electorates.

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NZ redistribution – full analysis of draft boundaries

Last Thursday, the first round of draft boundaries for the next New Zealand election was released to the public.

After extensive work, I have now produced a Google Earth map of the boundaries, as well as estimates of the vote for each party in the party vote and candidate vote in each of the electorates.

In short, no changes were made to the seven Maori electorates (which will not feature much in this analysis), as well as to twenty of the 63 general electorates.

The other 43 general electorates have been redrawn into 44 new electorates. One electorate (Waitakere, on the western fringe of Auckland) has been abolished, with two new  electorates (Upper Harbour and Kelston) created in western Auckland. Western and northern Auckland has seen the greatest changes, with the rest of the country seeing relatively minor changes.

In terms of the impact on parties, the Nationals have lost Waitakere and gained Upper Harbour, for no net change, and Labour has gained the seat of Kelston, resulting in Labour having one more seat than on current boundaries.

In Christchurch, the seat of Christchurch Central has switched from National to Labour, and the seat of Port Hills has switched from Labour to National, for no net change.

You can download the Google Earth map here. You can also download the map, along with the 2008-2011 parliamentary map and maps of local council areas and regions, at the Maps page.

Click through below for a Fusion Table with all of the results, more maps and more data.

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Victorian state maps completed

victoria banner2Following on from the conclusion of the Victorian state redistribution in October, I have now completed the Victorian state map for Google Earth, covering the 2014 election.

Maps have been created for both the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council, and you can download them here:

You can download more maps from the Maps page.

Antony Green has produced estimated margins for the eighty-eight Legislative Assembly districts, as well as vote estimates for the redistributed Legislative Council regions.

New Zealand electorate review prospects

christchurch varianceIn New Zealand, the Census is usually conducted once every five years. The last Census was due in 2011, but due to the Canterbury earthquakes they were postponed until early 2013.

Following the Census, the country has undergone the Māori Electoral Option, where Māori voters were given the option to choose whether they vote on the Maori roll or the general roll.

Last week, the latest statistics were released showing the number of people enrolled in each electorate following the Census and the Māori Electoral Option.

The statistics show dramatic shifts in the Christchurch area, and a booming population in Auckland, while overall the New Zealand population grew only slightly.

The increasing population in Auckland will require a new seat to be created somewhere in the Auckland area, while post-earthquakes shifts in the Christchurch population will require the seats in central Christchurch to stretch further out into the suburbs to capture the large boosts in population in nearby seats.

Read on for more information, including statistics and a map with clickable information about each electorate.

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