Redistribution Archive

6

South Australian state redistribution update

This is a quick blog post about a story that I’ve missed up until now.

As they do every four years, the South Australian electoral boundaries are currently in the process of being redistributed. The draft boundaries are due to be released at 11am Adelaide time this morning. This follows a round of submissions earlier this year, which largely went under the radar due to the federal election.

South Australia conducts redistributions after every election. Unlike other jurisdictions around Australia, the boundaries commission is required to ensure that the result is “fair” – ie. that a majority of the two-party-preferred vote gives a majority of seats. I’m on the record as thinking that this is an impossible task. By definition a system of single-member electorates are not fair, it can’t handle multiparty politics, and is always undone by different swings across the state.

The 2010 election saw Labor hold on to its majority despite losing a majority of the two-party-preferred vote, despite the best efforts to draw boundaries which wouldn’t produce this result. After this election, the boundaries commission decided that the boundaries were not unfair and didn’t attempt to undertake major redrawing of the boundaries to undo Labor’s new advantage.

The following map shows how much each seat diverges from the average quota as of 2016. Seats marked in red are above average, those in blue below average. Those in pale yellow are within a range of 1% either above or below. Those in a darker colour are 5% above or below average.

Seats must fall within 10% of the average. Technically only two seats fall outside this band: Port Adelaide is over 10% above average, and the remote north-western seat of Giles is over 10% below average.

In practice a lot more seats will be redrawn. On a regional basis, seats in the northern suburbs of Adelaide are above average. There are four seats north of the Adelaide city centre which are more than 5% above quota. The nine seats at the northern end of Adelaide are collectively 17.6% above quota, while the fifteen seats in central Adelaide are 7.4% above quota, and the southern Adelaide seats are mostly sitting around the quota.

The five seats in northern South Australia are collectively 22.7% below their fifth quota. This suggests that we should expect one of these rural seats to be pulled further into the northern fringe of Adelaide, to absorb the surplus population in Adelaide. We’ll find out soon enough.

I should note that I’m not planning to immediately drop everything to construct a map of the new draft SA boundaries, as I am hoping to produce a guide to some of the biggest councils up for election in New South Wales in September. I’ll return to produce this map later in the year once other elections no longer monopolise my time.

20

QLD redistribution – the numbers

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 4.44.44 pmQueensland is about to dive into a redistribution of state electorates, to update the existing electoral map which was created in the lead up to the 2009 election.

Queensland currently has 89 electorates, but will be adding four additional seats for the next election, thanks to legislation passed earlier this year. For this reason, most existing electorates are above the required average for the new electoral map.

The electorates are required to be roughly in line with the average enrolment as of 2016, and the average projected enrolment as of 2022. The following table shows the quotas in each region of the state.

Seat Seats 2016 quotas 2022 quotas
Brisbane North 16 16.56 16.42
Brisbane South 20 20.12 19.53
Central QLD 11 11.32 11.09
Gold Coast 10 11.00 11.31
North QLD 11 11.42 11.38
SE QLD 10 10.84 11.60
Sunshine Coast 8 8.80 8.94
Western QLD 3 2.94 2.73

It appears that three of the four new seats will be added in the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, and in those parts of South-East Queensland outside of Brisbane (such as Ipswich, which is growing fast).

Below the fold I’ve posted a map and run through the likely impact on each region. Read the rest of this entry »

37

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.