Redistribution Archive

13

Queensland moves to compulsory preferences

In October 2015, I wrote about an attempt by the Liberal National Party and Katter’s Australian Party to pass legislation through the Queensland Parliament which would have increased malapportionment amongst Queensland electorates.

This legislation had a chance of passing despite Labor being in power due to Labor being a minority government. The LNP and KAP were hoping to win over ex-Labor independent Billy Gordon, whose seat of Cook was one of the large rural seats which would be allowed to have a smaller population under the changed rules.

The October legislation also included some changes to the redistribution committee and a proposal to add up to five more seats to the Parliament. Earlier this month, the LNP and KAP proposed another law which made the same changes to the committee, and increased the size of the Parliament from 89 seats to 93.

Labor still strongly opposed the proposed legislation – personally it seems a lot less objectionable than the original proposal. It’s hard for me to assess who would benefit more from adding four seats – it seems likely that the new seats will be distributed around between both major parties.

It became clear that Rob Pyne (another ex-Labor independent) would vote for the opposition legislation. When the legislation came up tonight, Labor wrong-footed the LNP by amending the legislation to change the voting system from optional preferential voting (OPV) to compulsory preferential voting. The legislation was passed with this dramatic change to the voting system included. KAP and the independents voted with the government, while the LNP were left voting against their own legislation.

While the winners and losers of OPV change over time (the Liberals and Nationals were hurt by OPV in the late 1990s), at the moment OPV hurts Labor, as many Greens votes exhaust rather than flowing to Labor. Antony Green estimates that Labor would have won nine more seats in 2015 if preferences were compulsory.

While the original legislation may have had some slight benefits for the LNP, the Labor amendment will have dramatic consequences, hurting the LNP in a bunch of marginal seats, at least until there is some major shift in partisan voting patterns.

The pros and cons of OPV and CPV, and how they effect how campaigns are run, is a story for another day.

I wanted to just sum up what the current enrolment figures suggest about the next redistribution.

Region # of seats Quota / 89 Quota / 93
Brisbane North 16 15.85 16.57
Brisbane South 20 19.23 20.09
Central QLD 11 10.81 11.30
Gold Coast 10 10.55 11.03
North QLD 11 10.91 11.40
South-East QLD 10 10.40 10.87
Sunshine Coast 8 8.45 8.83
Western QLD 3 2.78 2.91

The Gold Coast gains an entire new seat, with rural parts of south-east QLD and Sunshine Coast almost gaining enough population to each gain their own seats. In southern Brisbane, the increased seat number prevents the region from losing a seat, while northern Brisbane has a half-quota more than its current seats. Overall, the south-east QLD region should gain three of the four new seats – one definitely on the Gold Coast, and the other two likely on the outskirts of Brisbane and in the Sunshine Coast.

Seats on the north and central coast of Queensland are slightly over-quota, so expect to see the fourth new seat on the coast, with seats along the coast nudged along to absorb the extra population.

I’m finding it hard to see an overall trend towards the ALP or LNP in the redistribution changes. LNP seats are already half a quota over before the changes to the quota, with ALP seats collectively 0.4 quotas under. With the reduced quota adjusted for 93 seats, the 42 LNP seats are 2.46 quotas over, while the 44 ALP seats are 1.55 quotas over.

One final thing which remains unclear to me is how this affects the timing of the redistribution. The redistribution was due in this term of Parliament, and expected to commence shortly. Queensland’s Attorney-General, Yvette D’Ath, has claimed that passage of the legislation would delay the redistribution into the next term – I can’t find any confirmation of this claim, or an explanation of why a redistribution could not be completed in time for an election due in early 2018.

If you want to see more details, the following map shows seats in relation to the new quota (for 93 seats) passed tonight.

0

Queensland council election – ward map completed

Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 12.55.00 pmIt’s only nine days now until Queenslanders vote for their councils for the next four years (along with a referendum on fixed four-year terms for the state parliament), and I’ve finally finished my Google Earth map of the ward boundaries.

Sixteen councils have changed their divisional or ward boundaries since the 2012 election. Four of these are councils which have changed their external boundaries due to the reversal of a pre-2012 council amalgamation: Cairns, Tablelands, Sunshine Coast and Rockhampton. The restored councils which took in parts of those four, respectively Douglas, Mareeba, Noosa and Livingstone, will all elect their councillors at large without any wards.

The other twelve councils to change their wards are Banana, Brisbane, Bundaberg, Fraser Coast, Ipswich, Isaac, Logan, Moreton Bay, Redland, Scenic Rim, Townsville and Whitsunday.

You can download the map here.

I’m now focusing all of my attention on preparing my guide to the 2016 federal election, with seat guides due to start appearing in April. I’ll likely return with a small amount of analysis of the results of the QLD election and referendum after March 19, but apart from that I’ll be keeping my head down working on the federal election.

14

Federal electorate map of NSW finalised

The AEC has released the final maps for the NSW federal redistribution today, after the decisions were first announced in January.

I had made a Google Earth map of my best estimates of the electoral boundaries in January, and these are largely accurate.

The only spots where I was incorrect were:

  • Hume/Eden-Monaro border
  • Grayndler/Reid
  • Hume/Werriwa
  • Fowler/McMahon

You can download the final map here.

3

NSW and WA redistributions – updated maps

We are now nearing the end of the federal redistribution process which precedes the next federal election.

We had redistributions in New South Wales, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory.

The AEC has a curious process where they announce the final boundaries but do not provide the maps and data which allow people to see the precise boundaries. This extra information is usually provided about a month later.

In the ACT, the final boundaries were identical to the draft boundaries, so no further maps are necessary (although the final data is expected next week). In Western Australia, the final maps were released yesterday, and I’ll post them further down in this post.

In New South Wales, the final boundaries were announced last Friday, without any maps. In most places it’s reasonably clear what boundaries they were using (although a few were confusing). I’ve done my best to put together a new map – I think it’s likely to be accurate but there may be a few errors (in particular the Hume/Whitlam boundary and the Parkes/New England boundary) and I will update it when the official data is released in late February.

Download the NSW final-ish electoral map.

Download the WA final electoral map.

Download the ACT final electoral map.

Below the fold you can see interactive maps for NSW and WA, although I haven’t added any other data to the maps, just the boundaries.

Read the rest of this entry »

0

WA state redistribution – map finalised

It’s a couple of weeks late, but I’ve now completed my Google Earth boundary map of the new WA state electoral boundaries.

Download the map here.

You can also download the 2017 map for the Legislative Council.

If you want to understand more about the redistribution, you can see Antony Green’s estimates of the new seat margins at the ABC website.

4

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.

38

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.

11

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.

51

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 »

31

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.