What's different about the 2019 federal election?

Every federal election is unique, but some are more unique than others. Due to a variety of factors such as extensive boundary redistributions and changes in legislation, the 2019 federal election is different from previous elections in a number of ways.

Redistributions and 151 electorates

One year after a new Parliament first meets, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) uses the latest population statistics to determine how many electorates each state and territory is entitled to. The most recent entitlement determination required that South Australia lose one seat and Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) gain one seat each. This means that for the first time the federal election will elect 151 members of the House of Representatives.

The 45th Parliament saw electoral redistributions in Queensland, Victoria, ACT, South Australia, Northern Territory and Tasmania. These led to a number of seat changes:

  • Batman (Vic.) renamed to Cooper
  • Melbourne Ports (Vic.) renamed to Macnamara
  • McMillan (Vic.) renamed to Monash
  • Murray (Vic.) renamed to Nicholls
  • Wakefield (SA) renamed to Spence
  • Denison (Tas.) renamed to Clark
  • Fraser (Vic.) created as a new seat
  • Bean (ACT) created as a new seat
  • Port Adelaide (SA) has been abolished

As a result of these changes a large number of electors have changed seats. The AEC has a facility on their website where voters can check their enrolment, as well as maps of the new electorates.

Nominations and the candidate checklist

As a response to the senators and members who were found to have been invalidly elected due to violating the requirements of section 44 of the Australian Constitution, the Parliament passed the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Modernisation and Other Measures) Act 2018 in February 2019.

One effect of this legislation is to require candidates who are nominating for election to the House of Representatives or the Senate, to complete a candidate qualification checklist as part of their nomination process. The checklist requires candidates to list information about their citizenship and family history, and is available on the AEC website.

The legislation also increased the nomination deposit for candidates for the House of Representatives from $1,000 to $2,000 (the nomination deposit for the Senate remains at $2,000).

Foreign donations ban

The passage of the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Act 2018 in November 2018 means that it is illegal to receive political donations of more than $1,000 from foreign sources. The AEC has an explanation of the effect of the foreign donation ban on its website. The legislation contained a number of other changes to the reporting obligations of political parties and donors.

Authorising electoral communication

The Electoral and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2017 brought the requirements for authorising electoral communication and advertising into the social media age. The changes broaden the types of material that must carry an authorisation, and the AEC has provided specific details of how to authorise different types of communication and what is required to be disclosed. These changes are discussed in more detail in a recent Parliamentary Library Flagpost.

The new Senate voting system

Although the new Senate voting system was in use for the 2016 double dissolution election, the 2019 election will be the first time it is used for a half-Senate election. The new voting system was legislated through the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Act 2016. A half-Senate election involves a considerably higher threshold for election (called a quota), and the 2019 Senate election will be the first opportunity to witness the effects of the changes on the composition of the Senate, particularly for minor parties. The Parliamentary Library published a detailed examination of the new Senate voting system in 2018.


Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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