NT redistribution – second draft redistribution published


The second draft of boundaries for the next Northern Territory assembly election was published late last Wednesday, and it’s taken me until now to complete my analysis of the new boundaries.

The first draft was made redundant by a large surge in enrolments in remote electorates. In particular the electorate of Mulka had been left alone in the first draft despite having an enrolment almost 10% above the average. The updated enrolment figures left Mulka 15% over quota, requiring a change.

You can download a Google Earth version of the boundaries from my maps page. I’ve published NT boundaries all the way back to 2008.

This map compares the 2020 boundaries to both versions of 2024 boundaries.

The Commission has made some changes to the border between Mulka and Arnhem, moving 475 voters from Mulka into Arnhem. They didn’t make any further knock-on changes, leaving Arnhem 10% above the average.

The seats of Daly and Gwoja have reverted to their 2020 boundaries, after having transferred some territory in the first draft.

Some small changes were also made between Casuarina and Wanguri in the northern suburbs of Darwin. There were some minor changes between Karama and both Wanguri and Sanderson, but they don’t appear to have involved any voters being moved.

Changes to Blain, Brennan, Drysdale, Fannie Bay, Fong Lim, Johnston, Nelson, Nightcliff and Spillett have been left intact. In total, ten seats were left unchanged.

I’ve added my margin estimates at the end of this post, for what they’re worth, but I wanted to briefly touch on the broader population trends.

In my last post on this topic, I pointed out that the seats in the Darwin-Palmerston area were collectively about a quarter of a seat under quota, while the six seats of the top end are about one fifth of a seat over quota.

While the Commission has modified a handful of seats to bring them closer to quota, they haven’t really addressed this collective regional imbalance of enrolment. Darwin seats tend to be drawn with smaller enrolments than the regional top end seats.

The nine redrawn Darwin seats only have 8.71 quotas of enrolled voters. The five Palmerston-area seats have 5.06 quotas, so that slightly reduces the imbalance if you include those seats.

On the other hand, the six top end seats (Arafura, Arnhem, Daly, Goyder, Katherine and Mulka) have 6.21 quotas of enrolled voters.

In effect this means that votes in those regional electorates have less value than those cast in Darwin.

The Commission is bound to draw electorates within a 10% range, but that still leaves a lot of room for flexibility. I also appreciate that there are difficulties faced in drawing 25 electorates – in places you can easily shift a single town and have a seat go from being too large to being too small. But I still think it would be worth pushing to expand those Darwin seats further east and allow for the top end electorates to get a bit smaller.

Finally, I’ve published my margin estimates below. I should warn that these should be taken with a big grain of salt. Many NT electorates only have a single booth that can be geographically located, and few have more than two. A number actually don’t have any, so some of my techniques don’t work as well.

As an example, the seat of Mulka has no local booths, so there was no way to skew how the votes were split up (eg that one part of the seat would be better for Labor). So the votes removed from the seat exactly match the votes left behind in the seat, and thus there is no change to the margin, even though the voters moved out of Mulka may well skew a particular way.

The Labor margin in Arnhem is slightly smaller thanks to those Mulka voters. I also have Karama as slightly more friendly for the CLP than it was in 2020.

Seat Old margin New margin
Arafura ALP 3.6% ALP 3.6%
Araluen TA 0.5% vs CLP TA 0.5% vs CLP
Arnhem ALP 1.6% vs IND ALP 1.6% vs IND
Barkly CLP 0.1% CLP 0.1%
Blain ALP 0.2% ALP 0.6%
Braitling CLP 1.3% CLP 1.3%
Brennan CLP 1.2% CLP 1.1%
Casuarina ALP 16% ALP 16%
Daly CLP 1.2% CLP 1.9%
Drysdale ALP 7.9% ALP 5.3%
Fannie Bay ALP 9.6% ALP 10.9%
Fong Lim ALP 2.6% ALP 2.2%
Goyder IND 6.8% vs CLP IND 6.8% vs CLP
Gwoja ALP 16.2% ALP 16.2%
Johnston ALP 16.5% ALP 16.1%
Karama ALP 9.8% ALP 8.9%
Katherine CLP 2.3% CLP 2.3%
Mulka IND 5.0% vs ALP IND 5.0% vs ALP
Namatjira CLP 0.3% CLP 0.3%
Nelson CLP 8.3% vs IND CLP 7.1% vs IND
Nightcliff ALP 24.3% ALP 23.8%
Port Darwin ALP 2.1% ALP 2.1%
Sanderson ALP 19.3% ALP 18.9%
Spillett CLP 15% CLP 13.9%
Wanguri ALP 17.3% ALP 17.3%
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  1. Spillett (Lia Finocchiaro’s seat) is an interesting one. It’s gone from being by far the largest city in Palmerston, stretching from southeastern Darwin to the edge of Palmerston and landlocking every other seat in Palmerston to becoming a seat that only includes a portion of northern Palmerston, losing heaps of area to Fong Lim (a Darwin-based seat but now spilling over into Palmerston) and Nelson (a rural seat but now with a small part of it spilling over into Palmerston). Lia Finocchiaro may not be able to contest Spillett in 2024 depending on where she lives. If she lives in the new Fong Lim, it would be risky for her to do a Campbell Newman (i.e be a party leader whilst not in Parliament but then contesting and winning a seat from the government) because that’s never been done before. Even though Fong Lim is a marginal Labor seat that could definitely flip should the CLP form government but still.

  2. The CLP have a good chance at winning the next election, but it will be more based on regional, rural and remote areas (the bush and the outback) as opposed to Darwin, even though they would need at least two or three, maybe even four Darwin seats to win (most likely Fannie Bay, Fong Lim and Port Darwin) but Terry Mills only won a few Darwin seats yet still won government, even if it was only for one term. Even though Finocchiaro announced her opposition to the Voice (something she previously was undecided on, saying she supported it in principle but needed more detail; anyway here’s the link: https://www.skynews.com.au/australia-news/nt-opposition-leader-lia-finocchiaro-reveals-voice-stance-says-canberrabased-body-wont-adequately-represent-aboriginal-territorians/news-story/45be419c16b1399e85a886fb13d65845?amp), I doubt this will sway voters, even Indigenous voters because polling shows that at least the current Voice proposal is on track to be defeated at the referendum later this year (polling shows that most people nationwide are voting no and that no leads yes in every state except Victoria).

    Personally, I do support “a” Voice but not “this” Voice and I think that there should be two referendum questions: one about constitutional recognition (which is something that has almost universal support) and one about the actual Voice proposal. My position may be at least somewhat odds with the federal and SA Coalition parties (who have opposed any form of the Voice) but are at least somewhat in line with the Coalition in NSW, Queensland, WA and the NT. I just think it isn’t thoroughly defined enough and personally when I saw what happened in WA with their now-scrapped Aboriginal heritage laws and read Libby Mettam’s article about changing her vote, I just thought “hey, I agree, because it’s stupid saying that I need an Aboriginal land councillor to do something as simple as digging a hole or building a pool”. But that’s just my personal opinion, of course.

  3. Nether Portal, from what I read Lia Finocchiaro resides in the outer Palmerston suburb of Durack. This was previously in the seat of Drysdale which she first contested in 2012 but was moved into Spillett pre-2016 along with the rural areas previously in Fong Lim (held by Dave Tollner). As a result, she challenged Tollner for preselection and won.

    I believe Durack and other outer Palmerston suburbs still remain in Spillett after this redistribution, with Fong Lim only expanding to take in the remainder of the rural communities between Darwin and Palmerston.

  4. @Yoh An thanks for the clarification. So in that case she should still be able to contest this seat. I also just realised Labor would be disadvantaged in the new Fong Lim given that it now includes some military bases which have booths that are heavily CLP voting.

  5. There’s a continuing surge in enrolments given the upcoming referendum. The announcement of the referendum date in late August would’ve boosted enrolments since then to the point where the NTEC’s quotas may be imbalanced.

    There were records broken as of 30 June 2023 – for the first time ever, over 90% of NT adults, 18 to 24 year olds and indigenous Australians have enrolled. https://www.aec.gov.au/media/2023/07-24.htm

    Of course, not everyone who recently enrolled will vote in the referendum, let alone the NT election.

  6. Whilst I believe that the NT election will be fought on local issues, I also think the outcome of the Voice referendum will have an impact, more so than other sub-national elections.

    1. It’s less than a year away and will be the first sub-national election after the referendum.
    2. Large indigenous population.
    3. Uluru Statement was conceived here.

    @Nether Portal. The CLP may support a variation or a localised version of a voice with constitutional recognition (bipartisan support for this). Methinks a referendum defeat has the potential to harm the CLP in 2024. Pro-voice (or pro-Uluru statement) indigenous Liberal-leaning or swing voters and ‘small l’ liberals may vote with the referedum defeat in mind and swing to other parties. Ironically, it could be a “referendum” on the refendum result.

    A referendum defeat may lead to a surge in pro-voice parties. It’s like how the defeat of the 2014 Scottish Independence referendum led to a massive surge in membership of the Scottish National Party in the days after.

  7. @Votante I think that, as you pointed out, the election will be decided on local issues, not the Voice. Many Indigenous people now oppose the Voice and I would say most Territorians (likely even most Indigenous Territorians) are now opposed to Albanese’s Voice proposal. And remember although Natasha Fyles is Labor Left and Lia Finocchiaro is more of a Moderate, the NT is a bit like Queensland or regional Australia: conservative. I don’t know if Fyles can hold onto seats like Port Darwin and even losing one seat means she’s in minority government. I also don’t know if Robyn Lambley can hold onto Araluen.

  8. @nether portal agreed. the election will be held some 10 months after the referendum was held the only ones keeping that alive will be labor because they wont have anything to run on. people wont be voting one or the other because of the outcome no in any great numbers anyway because it wont change the result and they will have moved on to more pressing local issues like crime and debt and this time they wont have the pandemic to blame. i reckon it should be a clp win because labor have only a slime majority now. this could be the beginning of another blue wave across mainland australia like what started back in 2010 in victoria

  9. It appears the whole process is going to have to start again as apparently the redistribution was not gazetted and therefore was not legal. It will begin again on September 11 and the first proposed redistribution to be published October 30. Anyone who made a prior suggestion comment and objection need not resubmit as these will still be taken into acclunt

  10. @votante It’s highly unlikely that the outcome of the referendum would affect the result of the NT election in anyway. Firstly, many indigenous Territorians, especially those living in remote communities, probably won’t have much understanding of the Voice because of the low levels of education and the poor flow of information and people to remote areas. Secondly, regardless of the referendum result, especially if the referendum is defeated, which polls suggest may well happen, it’s highly unlikely that Territory or federal Labor would make the Voice an election issue. Both Territory or federal Labor will quickly move on after the referendum to avoid being perceived as being more focused on the Voice than local issues that matter to voters, such as the cost of living, crime, housing crisis etc. What’s more, the Northern Territory is not known to be the source of many small-l Liberal/CLP politicians anyway.

  11. they finialised the nt bundaries for next years election. i know its only 2 divisions but will we be doing a post for the federal redistribution? i need something to do 🙁

  12. John, for the federal NT redistribution it appears Lingiari is over quota and Solomon under. Depending on the projected numbers, it may require a partial reversal of the previous redistribution with Solomon gaining more of the outer Palmerston suburbs from Lingiari.

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