Map update – South Australia and Tasmanian upper house


I’ve recently completed two new maps for download and use: the (kind of) final boundaries for the 2018 South Australian state election, and draft boundaries for the Tasmanian upper house.

South Australia’s state redistribution was overshadowed by the federal election last year. A final set of boundaries was released late last year, with some significant changes to the draft boundaries in southern Adelaide, but these boundaries are stuck pending a lawsuit by the SA Labor Party. Both the first draft and final draft can be downloaded from the maps page, and the map is embedded here.

I’ve also completed the draft boundaries for the Tasmanian Legislative Council. The Tasmanian upper house consists of fifteen single-member electorates, but its members are elected in a very odd way: only 2-3 seats are elected each year, with members serving a six year term. Boundaries are redistributed roughly once a decade, with the sitting members assigned to finish their term representing a new seat.

There have been some major changes to the boundaries along the east coast of Tasmania. The three Launceston-area seats have remained largely the same, as have the four Hobart-area seats and the two rural seats to the west of Hobart. The west coast seat of Murchison has undergone minor changes.

The east coast seat of Apsley has been chopped up, while the seat of Rumney in the south-eastern corner of the state has been pulled in closer to Hobart, losing Sorell and the Tasman peninsula. A new seat of Prosser stretches halfway up the east coast from the Tasman peninsula to Swansea, while the remainder of Apsley has been moved into a new seat of McIntyre.

The seat of Western Tiers has been chopped up, with the north-western seats of Montgomery and Mersey expanding south and the south-western seat of Derwent expanding north. The remainder of Western Tiers has joined the remainder of Apsley as McIntyre, a strangely-shaped seat curving around Launceston, stretching from Cradle Mountain to Flinders Island.

I would expect the final boundaries for the Tasmanian upper house to be determined later this year, and the new boundaries will be used for the first time in 2018.

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  1. Surely not long now til we see QLD’s draft boundaries? They said mid-late Feb – does anyone have any more specific info?

  2. I find is gobsmacking that the ALP would have the nerve to challenge the final result of the SA electoral redistribution. They have won the 2PP only ONCE in the last 30 years, yet have been in power for all but 8 years during this time. People need to seriously think about that!
    That they are objecting should be a major scandal. The Liberals didn’t object last time even though the then commission flagrantly violated the Bannon-introduced electoral fairness provisions in the constitution.
    There was rubbish spoken about how hard it would be to draw fair boundaries without compromising community of interest – including by Antony Green and if I recall correctly, Pollbludger, yet it has been achieved easily – so much for all the ‘expert’ opinion.

  3. I’ll plead slightly guilty on the SA boundaries and community of interest question – it was easier than I thought it would be; that said it has taken quite a few attempts over several years to get there. (I take some of the previous failures to fix the issue, with the strange arguments advanced for them, as having been code for “it’s too hard”).

    I’ll be interested to see how the TEC go with their McIntyre proposal. It’s quite controversial here; it scores highly on community of interest but poorly on connectivity which is a lower-level ambition. MLCs Hall and Rattray can’t stand it because it puts both their home bases into the same electorate.

  4. Re SA: there’s only so many times ECSA can offset the Libs’ inability to (a) win marginal seats and (b) deal with hung parliaments before it starts looking like the Playmander. There’s been four hung parliaments in the last 30 years (so, 16 years), all with Lib 2pp majorities, and Labor formed govt in three of those after negotiating with independents. Particularly in 2002 and 2014: if the Libs manage to lose their own safe seats to independents who won’t work with them, that’s nobody’s problem but their own.

  5. 4 Elections?? BOP your argument is correct only one of the four instances!

    1989 – the two independents were “Independent Labor” candidates in safe ALP seats and supported Labor. WRONG
    1997 – was one of the two times that the Liberals formed government, so irrelevant. WRONG
    2002 – the argument above is correct in this instance – and this instance only. (Its still shonky though because the 4 independents had promised prior to the election to support the Liberals and one of them betrayed this trust) RIGHT
    2014 the SA Liberal won 53% of the 2PP. Thats more than Rudd’s victory in 2007 (52.7%) or any other ALP federal victory since WW2 (with the exception of 1983 when Hawke won 53.2%). Yet the SA Liberals won 22 seats to the ALP’s 23 with two independents elected, both in marginal seats. Even if both these seats were counted as Liberal, a 24-23 cliff-hanger is hardly normal for such a resounding win. WRONG

    ALP 2PP wins in last 30 years: 2006 (1)
    Liberal 2PP wins: 1989, 1993, 1997, 2002, 2010, 2014 (6)

    ALP 2PP Majority 1/7
    Times ALP formed government = 5/7

  6. The true scandal is expecting statewide 2PP results to translate fairly into statewide seats in a system of ordinary single-member electorates.

    The expectation is simply wrong.

    If you want a fair result, agitate for a system that actually has some mathematical reason to expect such, like MMP.

  7. The redistricting rule may have had the accidental side effect of a good culture among Labor MPs; needing to hold onto their own notionally liberal seats through sheer local hard work. You can see it federally too with people like Tony Zappia and his “marginal seat”.

  8. Peterjk23, if you seriously think these boundaries are good you clearly don’t know Adelaide very well. The seats of King and Newland for example are absolutely dreadful, I have lived in the area pretty much my entire life, and can confirm the electoral boundaries absolutely fail any community of interest test.

  9. The Playmander was egregious malapportionment. A systematic bias towards rural areas for the benefit of the conservative side of politics. Any comparison to today’s non-partisan one vote one value boundaries is asinine.

  10. GG, the boundary changes in King and Newland are not particularly significant in terms of their effect on 2PP fairness. The significant changes made in the final draft were to Elder and Colton. The changes to these two electorates have flipped them to probable Liberal gains, should the Liberals win 50% statewide. This has corrected a deficient first draft to one which now complies with the SA Constitution’s electoral fairness provisions.

    David, the purpose of the Playmander was to advantage the LCL. The effect of the current boundaries and the earlier first draft from the current redistribution, gave an advantage to the ALP. The method was different but the effect has been the same.

    ALP supporters may not like it, but the SA constitution requires 2PP fairness. Failure on the part of the commission to implement these provisions constitutes a deliberate act and therefore qualifies as a boundary manipulation, every bit as pernicious as the Playmander.

  11. No, you can take it that I don’t think that a system of plain single-member electorates is a good system, because it only tends to deliver a reasonably democratic outcome by accident rather than design.

    I think anyone who complains of unfairness in the conversion of state-wide 2PP into seats in such a system without arguing against the inherent democratic deficit of the system itself is, at best, labouring under a significant misconception.

  12. Kme, In Australia single member systems have produced suprisingly close correlations with 2PP fairness, even in cases where there have been malaportionment, such as National Party ruled Queensland. The Playmander and the old WA (& possibly Victorian) upper houses were exceptions. The last 30 years in SA, is the only consistent exception to this in a lower house over the last 50 years.
    I agree with your point that this is more by accident than design as the same potential exists in Qld & NSW and its just through circumstance that it hasn’t happened. Witness Qld 1995 where the LNP obtained 53.5% 2PP but it wasn’t enough to obtain government – this was a once-off, but had they had a run of narrow losses as did the Liberals in SA then the same situation would likely have occurred there.
    In SA where the problem did actually occur, measures were instituted to deal with it. The argument I’m making is that these laws have been systematically ignored and the SA Labor party is obscenely taking legal action to ensure that this state of affairs continues.
    I agree single member systems are not at all fair when it comes to non-two party entrants but that is another issue. We have a two-party system and since that’s the system we have, it should be fair within those parameters. At the very least, the law (constitution no less) should be adhered to.
    Does anyone seriously make the argument that the SA electoral boundaries in place at the time of the 2016 election, were compliant with the intent of the 1991 constitutional changes?

  13. Peter you keep talking about “2PP fairness” but I don’t think that’s what kme was talking about.

    It’s very narrow-minded to just look at the fairness of an electoral system between two parties, while ignoring that the system is grossly unfair to other parties – at none of these elections where you claim a Liberal “majority” did they actually win a majority of the vote.

    It’s absurd hypocrisy of the Liberals to complain about unfairness while whispering *we only want fairness between two parties, keep up the unfairness against all the others*.

  14. Are there 2PP estimates for malapportioned Queensland to even assess the fairness of that system under? I would have thought the three-cornered nature of Queensland politics at the time would have made these quite difficult to construct.

  15. What makes SA so different to Victoria, which has only had the 2PP loser form government once since World War 2 (1988), or WA (1989)? As far as I’m aware they have no fairness rules.

    Are there any good stats out there about MPs defending seats that are notionally not theirs?

  16. It’s funny how many people talk about how Trump won despite losing the popular vote, forgetting that it happens in SA all the time, happened to Beazley in ’98 and most states have some instance of that sort of thing in their histories, and our system is far better than the electoral college.

  17. Kevin, The results are all here including the 2PP by electorate.

    I’ve seen the overall 2PP somewhere but cant seem to find it now. While the results were very unfair to the Liberal Party, on a 2PP basis there was nothing remarkable.

    From memory the only time the ALP may have won the 2PP was in 1972, but by nowhere near as much as the Libs won in SA last time (or the LNP won in 1995 in Queensland). Most of the 3-cornered contests didn’t actually occur until the late 70’s and especially the 1980’s when Joh was aggressively encroaching onto Liberal territory. So for 1969 or 1972 for example, you can virtually tally the Country and Liberal totals together with hardly any leakage, plus add about 80% of the DLP vote.

    In 1983, the first election when the NP won in their own right (after 2 defections) the votes were 44% (ALP), 39% (NP) and 15% (Lib) – that’s an implied NP 2PP vote of about 53%. In seat terms this translated into 32-41-8-1. Not far from what you’d expect in a non-gerrymandered set up.

  18. The 1972 data there are surprisingly good, one of the seats even has a 2PP where the major parties didn’t finish as the 2PP parties. Just by adding up Labor vs Non-Labor (where Non-Labor was whichever of Liberal, Country or DLP made the final two) I get it as 50.3 to non-Labor excluding two seats which finished as ALP vs Laborish independent. With rough estimates for those Labor would be just ahead. Still, 35/82 seats off basically 50-50 and with the government having no sophomore effect from the previous election isn’t ideal.

  19. KB, you added up all the individual results!! Must admit I was tempted, but didn’t get around to it.

    Agreed that the 1972 result is not ideal. However a fraction over 50% or even 51% for the losing opposition party is considerably better than the current SA situation, especially as this is the only time in Qld that the coalition (till 1980) or NP alone (1983 & 1986) did not win the 2PP. Considering the infamy of the alleged Johmander and the silence about the situation in SA today, this is remarkable. How many people would realise that Joh only lost the 2PP once, and even then only by a whisker!

    Not sure what you mean by the sophomore effect. I think this is rather the benefit of incumbency in the marginals that applies to all incumbent governments, so it would have helped the coalition in 1972.

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