1997 Redistribution of Federal Electoral Boundaries


Index

Background Paper 8 1997-98

Gerard Newman
Statistics Group
24 November 1997

Contents

Introduction

Representation Entitlements

Redistribution Process

Western Australia

Queensland

Australian Capital Territory

Conclusion

Endnotes

Introduction

 

A redistribution of federal electoral boundaries occurred in Western Australia during 1996 and 1997 and in Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) in 1997. The redistribution in Western Australia was occasioned by the 'seven year rule' in the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, while the redistribution in Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory was triggered by a change in the representation entitlements of the two jurisdictions.

The Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 provides for three triggers for a redistribution of federal electoral boundaries in a State or the ACT. Under section 59 of the Act a redistribution shall occur:

  •  

  • when there is a change in the representation entitlements of the State or Territory,
  •  

  • when more than one third of the Divisions in a State or the ACT vary from the average divisional enrolment for the State or the ACT by more than 10 per cent for three consecutive months, or
  •  

  • if seven years have elapsed since the last redistribution in the State or the ACT.

Representation Entitlements

The procedures for determining the entitlement to representation in the House of Representatives from each State or Territory are contained in section 48 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. The Act requires the Electoral Commissioner to ascertain the population of the States and Territories of the Commonwealth during the tenth month after the first meeting of a newly elected House of Representatives. After the population has been ascertained the Electoral Commissioner makes a determination of each State and Territory's entitlement to representation. The determination following the 1996 election was made on 28 February 1997.

The determination is made by dividing the population of the six states by twice the number of Senators from the six states (72x2=144) to obtain a quota. The population of each State and Territory is then divided by the quota, to determine the entitlement. If on this division there is a remainder greater than one-half of a quota then the State or Territory is entitled to an additional member. For the purposes of determining entitlements the population of the ACT includes Jervis Bay, and the population of the Northern Territory includes Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island while electors on Norfolk Island are included in State and ACT population figures.

1997 Determination

State/Territory

Population

Quotas(a)

Entitlement

Change

New South Wales

6 190 248

50.0748

50

..

Victoria

4 541 016

36.7336

37

..

Queensland

3 354 753

27.1376

27

+1

Western Australia

1 762 735

14.2593

14

..

South Australia

1 479 156

11.9653

12

..

Tasmania (b)

473 384

3.8293

5

..

Six States

17 801 292

Northern Territory

179 742

1.4540

1

..

Australian Capital Territory

308 393

2.4947

2

-1

(a) Population of state or territory divided by quota (Quota: 17801292 / 144 = 123620.08).

(b) Tasmania is guaranteed a minimum of five members under section 24 of the Constitution.

Source: Australian Electoral Commission, Electoral Newsfile, No. 62.


The 1997 determination resulted in an increase in the entitlement of Queensland from 26 to 27 and a decrease in the entitlement of the ACT from 3 to 2. The total number of members of the House of Representatives remained unchanged at 148. As a consequence redistributions commenced in Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory with the appointment of Redistribution Committees in April 1997.

Redistribution Process

The procedures for conducting electoral redistributions are contained in Parts III and IV of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. The process is best summarised by the redistribution timetable. The redistribution process provides opportunities for interested parties to make submissions to the Committee, to make comments on other submissions and to make objections to the Committee's proposals. The timetable relating to the 1997 redistribution in Western Australia, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory is given in the table below.

Redistribution Timetable

Western Australia

Queensland

Australian Capital Territory

Redistribution triggered

22-Apr-96

28-Feb-97

28-Feb-97

Redistribution Committee appointed

15-May-96

3-Apr-97

7-Apr-97

Public suggestions and comments invited

29-May-96

16-Apr-97

16-Apr-97

Suggestions closed

28-Jun-96

16-May-97

16-May-97

Comments on suggestions closed

12-Jul-96

30-May-97

30-May-97

Quota struck

12-Jul-96

30-May-97

30-May-97

Redistribution Committee publishes proposals and invites objections

28-Aug-96

28-Jul-97

28-Jul-97

Objections closed

26-Sep-96

25-Aug-97

25-Aug-97

Augmented Electoral Commission conducts hearings into objections

7-Oct-96

11-Sep-97

(a)

Redistribution determined

6-Mar-97

(b)

(b)

(a) No hearings conducted.

(b) The Augmented Electoral Commission for Queensland announced its findings on 26 September 1997 while the Augmented Electoral Commission for the Australian Capital Territory announced its findings on 29 September 1997. The formal determination for both redistributions will occur after the declaration of the poll for the Constitutional Convention in early December 1997.

In making its proposals the Redistribution Committee is required to take into account the following considerations outlined in section 66 of the Act:

  •  

  • Ensure that, as far as practicable, the number of electors enrolled in each proposed Electoral Division in the State or Territory, three years and six months after the redistribution, be not more than 102 per cent or less than 98 per cent of the average divisional enrolment of that State or Territory at that time.
  •  

  • Subject to the above, the Committee shall give consideration to the following:
    •  

    • community of interests within the proposed division, including economic, social and regional interests,
    •  

    • means of communication and travel within the proposed division,
    •  

    • the physical features and area of the proposed division, and
    •  

    • the boundaries of existing divisions in the State or Territory.

Section 66 also specifies the quota of electors for the State or Territory shall be the basis of the redistribution but that a margin of allowance of not more than 10 per cent above or below the quota be allowed.

The strict numerical criteria specified in section 66 of the Act mean that redistributions carried out under this legislation are first and foremost mathematical exercises and often preclude due consideration of the other qualitative criteria. The restrictive nature of the quantitative criteria is often the subject of comment in submissions(1) and has been the subject of a recommendation of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters. The Committee in considering the redistribution criteria found that 'the political parties and others attempting to frame electoral boundaries essentially find themselves engaged in a mathematical exercise'(2). To overcome this difficulty the Committee recommended relaxing the variation allowable three and a half years after the redistribution from 2 per cent to 3.5 per cent(3). The Committee's recommendation has yet to be acted upon by the Government.

It is important to note that in making proposals the Redistribution Committees do not take into account any political considerations.

Western Australia

The redistribution of federal electoral boundaries in Western Australia was triggered by the seven year rule contained in paragraph 59(2)(c) of the Act. Under this provision a redistribution must commence within 30 days after the expiration of seven years after a state was last redistributed. In the case of Western Australia the state was last redistributed on 31 March 1989. The Electoral Commissioner announced the redistribution on 22 April 1996.

The Redistribution Committee received suggestions and comments from the three major parties and from a number of Federal Members and local councils. The main focus of the submissions and comments was the high growth rate Divisions of Moore and Cowan to the north of Perth and the Division of Brand in the south.

The Redistribution Committee specified two main factors as influencing its deliberations. These were 'continuing very high rates of growth in some areas, most notably in the LGAs of Wanneroo and Rockingham' and 'unevenness of growth within the State and in particular between inner metropolitan Divisions and those on the perimeter of the metropolitan area'. The Committee was also mindful to retain existing boundaries wherever possible, to tidy up boundaries which have caused confusion and to limit the increase in area of the Division of Kalgoorlie(4).

Objections or endorsements of the Committee's proposals were received from 25 persons or authorities; however, the Augmented Electoral Commission rejected all but one objection. The one objection upheld related to a relatively minor change in the boundary between the Divisions of Perth and Pearce. A summary of the new Divisions is provided in the table below.

Western Australian Electoral Divisions - 1997 Redistribution

Division

Electors Jul 1996

Variation from quota Jul 1996

%

Projected enrolment Jun 2000

Variation from average Jun 2000

%

Area sq km

Brand

71 403

-9.52

84 510

-0.27

442

Canning

77 281

-2.08

84 580

-0.18

2 999

Cowan

72 508

-8.12

84 301

-0.51

164

Curtin

85 363

+8.16

85 812

+1.27

93

Forrest

77 476

-1.83

83 784

-1.12

26 768

Fremantle

79 467

+0.69

83 696

-1.23

205

Kalgoorlie

80 271

+1.71

83 979

-0.89

2 300 284

Moore

71 734

-9.10

86 231

+1.76

656

O'Connor

82 908

+5.05

85 869

+1.34

186 324

Pearce

76 198

-3.45

84 846

+0.13

14 345

Perth

83 755

+6.13

85 372

+0.75

106

Stirling

83 898

+6.30

84 386

-0.41

76

Swan

82 176

+4.12

84 546

-0.23

142

Tangney

80 466

+1.95

84 405

-0.39

94

Total

1 104 904

1 186 317

2 532 698

Average

78 921

84 736

Source: Australian Electoral Commission, 1997 Redistribution of Western Australia into Electoral Divisions, AGPS, Canberra 1997.

Although the 1997 redistribution resulted in changes to all 14 Electoral Divisions in Western Australia, some changes were relatively minor and had little impact on the political complexion of the State. The main features of the redistribution are summarised below. It should be noted that in the following section all references to voting figures are two party preferred votes for the 1996 House of Representatives election.

  •  

  • Brand - Contracted towards the coast and is now centred on the local government areas of Kwinana, Rockingham and Mandurah. The coal mining community of Collie was transferred to O'Connor, and rural areas between Collie and Perth divided between Canning and O'Connor. Brand also gains a small area in the north from Fremantle. The Division is now slightly safer (with a margin of 1.1%) for the Labor Party with the loss of the rural areas.
  •  

  • Canning - Expanded southward to include some of the rural areas (Murray local government area and part of Mandurah) from the Division of Brand. In the north Canning Vale was lost to Tangney. The Division is now slightly safer for the Liberal Party (margin 1.3%) with the acquisition of safe Liberal Party booths in Murray (including Barragup 60.9%, Pinjarra 60.1%, Yunderup 69.3% and Yunderup North 66.2%) and Mandurah (Falcon 56.3%).
  •  

  • Cowan - Moved northward shedding areas in the south to Perth and Stirling and gaining areas in the north from Moore. The Division is now safer for the Liberal Party (margin 4.3%) with the loss of the strong Labor booths of Balga 65.5% and Balga North 67.2% and acquisition of strong Liberal booths from Moore (Wanneroo 58.9% and Wanneroo East 58.7%).
  •  

  • Kalgoorlie - Became even larger with the acquisition of the local government areas of Chapman Valley, Merredin, Mullewa and Northampton from O'Connor. The Division is now notionally less safe for the Labor Party (margin 0.7%) with the acquisition of some very safe Liberal booths (Kalbarri 76.1%, Merredin 65.0%, Mullewa 76.9% and Northampton 77.5%). In two candidate vote terms the Division is now slightly safer for the sitting Independent Member (G Campbell) with a margin of 12.1%.
  •  

  • O'Connor - Acquired the rural areas of Brand including the coal mining centre of Collie, while losing areas to Kalgoorlie and Pearce (Beverley and York local government areas). The Division is now slightly less safe for the Liberal Party (margin 21.1%) after the acquisition of the Labor booths in Collie (Collie 65.2%, Collie Central 71.9%, and Collie North 71.8%).
  •  

  • Stirling - Moved northward shedding areas in the south to Curtin and gaining areas in the north from Cowan and Moore. The Division is now less safe for the Liberal Party (margin 3.3%) with the acquisition of Labor booths from Cowan (Balga 65.5% and Balga North 67.2%). The effect of the movement of other booths in and out of the Division tended to have no net political impact.

The following table shows the electoral effects of the 1997 redistribution using the 1996 House of Representatives election results. Because of the substantial level of support for independent candidates in some Western Australian Electoral Divisions some of the movements shown in the table are due to the absence or presence of a candidate in the areas moving to a new Division. For instance, in Curtin the two-candidate preferred vote for the sitting Independent Member (A Rocher) has declined from 57.3% to 55.9% because Mr Rocher was not a candidate in those parts of the Division that were acquired from Stirling.

Effects of 1997 Redistribution - Western Australia

1996 Election Results

Per cent

First Preference Votes

Two Party Votes

Division

ALP

LP

NP

AD

Oth

ALP

LP/NP

Brand

Old

43.9

42.6

1.0

3.5

9.0

50.2

49.8

New

44.4

41.7

0.7

3.8

9.5

51.1

48.9

Canning

Old

41.3

44.2

0.0

6.2

8.4

49.3

50.7

New

40.6

44.7

0.1

5.9

8.8

48.7

51.3

Cowan

Old

41.6

46.4

0.0

7.6

4.4

47.6

52.4

New

39.6

45.3

0.0

7.3

7.8

45.7

54.3

Curtin (a)

Old

19.8

39.1

0.0

4.3

36.8

35.9

64.1

New

20.5

42.0

0.0

4.4

33.1

36.8

63.2

Forrest

Old

29.0

57.0

0.0

5.1

8.9

36.4

63.6

New

28.7

57.1

0.0

5.1

9.0

35.9

64.1

Fremantle

Old

46.9

40.4

0.0

5.8

6.9

54.3

45.7

New

46.7

40.5

0.0

5.9

6.9

54.2

45.8

Kalgoorlie (a)

Old

34.7

24.3

0.0

2.1

38.8

53.4

46.6

New

33.7

26.6

1.2

2.2

36.3

50.7

49.3

Moore (a)

Old

28.4

27.3

0.0

4.5

39.7

41.8

58.2

New

29.6

26.3

0.0

4.6

39.4

41.5

58.5

O'Connor

Old

17.8

56.0

18.1

3.4

4.8

24.1

75.9

New

23.1

53.4

15.3

3.3

4.9

28.9

71.1

Pearce

Old

28.9

54.2

0.0

10.0

6.9

37.8

62.2

New

27.6

55.0

0.8

9.7

7.0

36.1

63.9

Perth

Old

47.6

37.5

0.0

6.2

8.7

56.5

43.5

New

47.3

38.3

0.0

6.3

8.1

56.7

43.3

Stirling

Old

38.4

50.1

0.0

5.2

6.2

44.8

55.2

New

38.2

45.0

0.0

5.2

11.5

46.7

53.3

Swan

Old

36.9

42.3

0.0

5.4

15.4

46.3

53.7

New

37.0

42.8

0.0

5.8

14.4

46.3

53.7

Tangney

Old

30.0

55.4

0.0

8.9

5.6

37.9

62.1

New

30.9

54.9

0.0

8.6

5.6

38.1

61.9

(a) Two Candidate Preferred Votes:

Curtin: Old=Rocher 57.3%, LP 42.7%; New=Rocher 55.9%, LP 44.1%.

Kalgoorlie: Old =Campbell 60.3%, ALP 39.7%; New= Campbell 62.1%, ALP 37.9%.

Moore: Old=Filing 65.5%, ALP 34.5%; New=Filing 63.5%, ALP 36.5%.

Source: Australian Electoral Commission

While the 1997 redistribution resulted in changes to the boundaries of all 14 Divisions in Western Australia most changes were minor and only involved moving a relatively small number of electors. Because of this the redistribution process was rather uneventful and passed with only mild interest from the public and the media. This was in contrast with the situation in Queensland and to a lesser extent in the ACT where the respective redistributions generated considerable interest.

Queensland

The continuing high population growth in Queensland resulted in the State gaining an additional seat in the House of Representatives at the 1997 determination. This was the third successive determination that resulted in Queensland's entitlement being increased. With the 1997 determination Queensland's entitlement is now 27.

The Redistribution Committee received suggestions and comments from the three major political parties as well as from a number of Federal members, local councils and private individuals. While the three major parties made suggestions covering the whole of the state only the Liberal and National parties addressed the issue of the location of the new seat. The Liberal Party proposed that the new seat be located south and west of Ipswich and extending northwards to encompass the Brisbane Valley and parts of the South Burnett. The National Party proposal was for a new seat stretching from Dalby on the Darling Downs to the Sunshine Coast.

The Redistribution Committee noted that similarities between this redistribution and the 1991 and 1994 redistributions. In particular they noted the following trends:

  •  

  • an increase of one Division on each occasion in the entitlement of the State,
  •  

  • continuing high rates of growth, especially in the south east corner of the State along the major highway corridors to the north and south of Brisbane, and
  •  

  • unevenness of growth rates within the State.(5)

In framing its proposals the general approach of the Committee was to deal with Divisions at the extremities of the State and move towards the south east. The result of this strategy was the release of excess enrolment from Divisions north and south of Brisbane as well as from Groom. The end result of this process was the proposed Division of Blair, made up of parts of the existing Divisions of Fisher, Groom, Longman and Oxley(6). The location of the new Division is broadly consistent with the location of the new seats (Longman and Dickson) created at the last two residstributions in Queensland.

The Redistribution Committee's proposal for the location of the new Division bears a striking resemblance to the Liberal Party's suggestion and led to some media speculation that the Redistribution Committee's proposals were politically motivated, a suggestion that was vigorously denied by the Australian Electoral Commission Chairman Trevor Morling QC(7).

The new Division was named after Mr Harold Blair AO, the noted tenor and Aboriginal activist. See the following box section for the guidelines followed by Redistribution Committees in naming federal Divisions.

Naming of Federal Electoral Divisions

The naming of Federal Electoral Divisions is often one of the more controversial aspects of the redistribution process. Considerable controversy surrounded the 1994 redistribution in Queensland over the naming of the Divisions of Forde and Rankin and in the ACT in 1997 over the names of the two remaining seats.

The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters in its 1995 report1 specified the following guidelines to be followed in naming Federal Electoral Divisions. While Redistribution Committees take the guidelines into account they consider that they are in no way bound by them2.

  •  

  • In the main, Divisions should be named after former citizens who have rendered outstanding service to their country and that every effort should be made to retain the names of original Federation Divisions.
  •  

  • When new Divisions are created, the names of former Prime Ministers should be considered.
  •  

  • Locality or place names should generally be avoided, but in certain areas the use of geographical features may be appropriate (e.g. Riverina, Eden-Monaro).
  •  

  • Aboriginal Names should be used where appropriate and, as far as possible, the names of existing Divisions with Aboriginal names should be retained.
  •  

  • The names of Commonwealth Divisions should not duplicate existing State Divisions.
  •  

  • Qualifying names (e.g. North Sydney, Melbourne Ports, Port Adelaide) may be used where appropriate.
  •  

  • Names of Divisions should not be changed or transferred to new areas without very strong reasons.
  •  

  • When two or more Divisions are partially combined, as far as possible the name of the new Division should that of the old Division which had the greatest number of electors within the new boundaries. However, where the socio-demographic nature of the Division in question has changed significantly, this should override the numerical formula.

_______________________

  1. Australia, Parliament, Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, Electoral Redistributions; Report on the Effectiveness and Appropriateness of the Redistribution Provisions of Parts III and IV of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, AGPS, Canberra 1975.

2. Redistribution Committee for Queensland, 1997 Proposed Redistribution of Queensland into Electoral Divisions, [1997].

The Augmented Electoral Commission for Queensland considered the Redistribution Committee's proposals and the 71 objections to the proposals before announcing the outcome of its deliberations on 26 September 1997. The final determination of boundaries in Queensland will be delayed till after the close of the poll for the Constitutional Convention election to be held in November and December 1997. The Augmented Electoral Commission made very few changes to the Committee's proposals. The main changes affected the proposed Divisions of Blair and Oxley in the south east of the State and Kennedy and Leichhardt in the north. A summary of the new Divisions is provided in the table below.

Queensland Electoral Divisions - 1997 Redistribution

Division

Electors

May 1997

Variation from quota

May 1997

%

Projected enrolment

Jun 2001

Variation from average

Jun 2001

%

Area

sq km

Blair

72 966

-6.60

84 185

-1.64

15 095

Bowman

76 779

-1.72

84 619

-1.13

600

Brisbane

85 909

+9.97

84 862

-0.85

72

Capricornia

80 986

+3.67

86 964

+1.61

235 400

Dawson

81 635

+4.52

87 199

+1.88

22 440

Dickson

75 459

-3.41

85 215

-0.44

754

Fadden

74 614

-4.49

84 556

-1.21

591

Fairfax

72 150

-7.64

84 279

-1.53

4 270

Fisher

71 713

-8.20

87 270

+1.97

558

Forde

71 256

-8.79

86 565

+1.14

4 873

Griffith

82 894

+6.11

84 833

-0.88

123

Groom

78 569

+0.57

84 434

-1.35

6 417

Herbert

80 973

+3.65

87 198

+1.88

2 966

Hinkler

75 824

-2.94

84 004

-1.85

15 427

Kennedy

83 795

+7.26

87 258

+1.95

562 160

Leichhardt

75 740

-3.05

87 245

+1.94

150 236

Lilley

85 588

+9.56

85 646

+0.07

139

Longman

71 724

-8.19

86 794

+1.41

1 984

McPherson

77 520

-0.77

86 449

+1.01

369

Maranoa

81 951

+4.90

84 811

-0.91

650 504

Moncrieff

77 746

-0.48

85 133

-0.53

182

Moreton

83 770

+7.23

85 416

-0.20

107

Oxley

76 131

-2.55

84 305

-1.50

669

Petrie

82 364

+5.43

85 354

+0.27

149

Rankin

74 090

-5.16

85 390

-0.23

151

Ryan

81 440

+4.25

85 827

-0.28

238

Wide Bay

75 673

-3.13

85 048

-0.63

53 826

Total

2 109 277

2 310 859

1 730 300

Average

78 121

85 587

Source: Augmented Electoral Commission Decides Federal Electoral Boundaries and Names for Queensland, Press Release, 26 September 1997.

The 1997 redistribution resulted in changes to all but three Divisions in the State. The Divisions of Bowman and Griffith in Brisbane and McPherson on the Gold Coast were unaffected by the redistribution, while the Division of Rankin (based on Brisbane's south-eastern suburbs) was changed from a marginal Labor seat to a notionally marginal Liberal seat. The most controversial feature of the redistribution was the creation of the Division of Blair from the old seat of Oxley and the implications of this for the sitting Independent member, Ms Pauline Hanson.

It is the belief of many commentators that Ms Hanson's best chances at the next election would be to run for the Senate rather than contest her existing seat of Oxley or the new seat of Blair, the assumption being that Blair would be a safe Coalition seat while Oxley would be a natural Labor seat, particularly if the former Labor Premier Mr Wayne Goss contests Oxley. The chance of a preference deal between the Coalition and Labor to place Ms Hanson last on the ballot paper was also thought to lessen her chances in either seat. Ms Hanson ended speculation on 20 August 1997 as to her intentions by announcing, through her spokesman Mr David Oldfield, that she would not run for the Senate at the next election but would contest a House of Representatives seat(8). However, at this time Ms Hanson did not disclose which specific seat she would contest.

The situation in the Division of Oxley was further complicated by the illness of the potential Labor candidate Mr Wayne Goss. In a concession to Mr Goss' illness the Labor Party announced that it was delaying the closing of preselection nominations for Oxley until February 1998(9).

The main features of the redistribution are summarised below. It should be noted that in the following section, references to voting figures are two-party preferred votes for the 1996 House of Representatives election except where stated.

  •  

  • Blair - New Division centred on the western suburbs of Ipswich and extending to the west and north of Ipswich including the Brisbane Valley and the South Burnett region. Notionally a safe Coalition seat (margin 17.5%) including strong Coalition booths in the rural areas (Kingaroy 77.6%, Gatton 76.2%, Nanango 67.6%, Laidley 67.9%) and some traditional Labor booths in Ipswich (1993 election results: Blair School 66.2%, Brassall School 62.4%, Leichhardt 65.3%). The notional first preference vote for the National Party is understated in favour of the Liberal Party as the National Party did not contest those parts of Blair that were in Oxley and Groom for the 1996 election.
  •  

  • Bowman - Unchanged by the redistribution.
  •  

  • Brisbane - Loses Toowong to Ryan and parts of Stafford to Petrie and gains parts of Keperra and Mitchelton from Dickson. Boundary changes had no effect on the political complexion of the seat and it remains a marginal Labor seat (margin 0.4%).
  •  

  • Capricornia - Almost doubles in area by expanding westward to include large area in the central-west of Queensland. Despite significant boundary changes the seat remains a marginal National Party seat (margin 3.7%) with gains of strong Coalition areas from Kennedy (Longreach 60.2%, Longreach East 62.4% and Winton 63.5%) and Labor areas from Dawson (Collinsville 72.9%) being compensated for by the loss of strong Coalition areas (Banana 88.2% and Theodore 73.8%) and traditionally strong Labor areas in the mining town of Blackwater (Blackwater 60.6% and Blackwater North 68.8%).
  •  

  • Dawson - Contracts to the coast losing inland areas to Capricornia. The seat is now slightly safer for the Coalition (margin 10.7%) with the loss of the mining town of Collinsville (ALP vote 72.9%).
  •  

  • Dickson - Expanded substantially in area with the acquisition of the Dayboro area from Longman. Boundary changes have made the seat slightly safer for the Liberal Party (margin 3.6%) with the acquisition of solid Liberal booths (Everton Park North 61.7% and Stafford West 60.3%) from Petrie.
  •  

  • Fadden - Remains a safe Liberal seat (margin 17.5%) with only a minor change in the existing boundary with the acquisition of Biggera Waters from Moncrieff and the loss of Arundel and Parkwood to Moncrieff.
  •  

  • Fairfax - Expands substantially to the north-west with the acquisition of Gympie and a large rural component from Wide Bay; southern parts of the Division are transferred to Fisher. Division remains a safe Liberal Party seat (margin 17.7%) although the National Party may provide the main opposition in a three-cornered contest.
  •  

  • Fisher - Contracts to the Sunshine Coast at Caloundra and Maroochydore and is now only a fraction of its former size with the loss of rural areas to Blair and Longman. Division remains a safe Liberal Party seat (margin 20.3%) with strong Coalition rural areas lost to Blair, and Longman being replaced by equally strong Coalition areas from Fairfax.
  •  

  • Forde - Expands slightly to acquire some rural components of Oxley and Rankin. Division is made slightly safer for the Liberal Party (margin 11.2%) with the loss of Labor booths (Burrowes 54.0%, Kingston 62.8%, Mabel Park 57.9% and Marsden East 54.4%) in the north to Rankin.
  •  

  • Griffith - Unchanged by the redistribution.
  •  

  • Groom - Moves westward losing eastern portion below the Great Dividing Range to Blair and gaining in the west from Maranoa. Division remains a safe Liberal Party seat (margin 21.5%) although the expected retirement of the sitting member (Mr Bill Taylor) should ensure a three-cornered contest.
  •  

  • Herbert - Largely unchanged by the redistribution.
  •  

  • Hinkler - Contracts to the coast, gaining Mt Morgan from Capricornia and losing rural areas to Wide Bay and Maranoa. Division is slightly less safe for the National Party (margin 8.5%) with the acquisition of the Labor voting town of Mt Morgan (59.5%) and the loss of strong National Party areas (Gin Gin 71.2% and Monto 81.5%).
  •  

  • Kennedy - Loses position as the largest Division in Queensland with the loss of southern areas (Aramac, Barcaldine, Longreach and Winton) to Capricornia and Maranoa (Blackall), gains Gordonvale area south of Cairns from Leichhardt. Division remains a safe National Party seat (margin 14.4%).
  •  

  • Leichhardt - Loses Gordonvale area south of Cairns to Kennedy. Division becomes more marginal for the Liberal Party (margin 3.8%) with the loss of Gordonvale (Coalition vote 57.1%).
  •  

  • Lilley - Largely unchanged by the redistribution.
  •  

  • Longman - Contracts to the coast between the northern outskirts of Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, loses large rural component to Blair. Remains a fairly safe Liberal Party seat (margin 10.2%) despite loss of rural areas.
  •  

  • McPherson - Unchanged by the redistribution.
  •  

  • Maranoa - Becomes the largest Division in Queensland with the acquisition of Blackall area from Kennedy and Duaringa from Capricornia. Despite gaining the Labor town of Blackwater remains the safest Coalition seat in Queensland (margin 22.9%).
  •  

  • Moncrieff - Remains a safe Liberal Party seat (margin 20.4%) with only minor changes to the existing boundary with the acquisition of Arundel and Parkwood from Fadden and the loss of Biggera Waters to Fadden.
  •  

  • Moreton - Becomes slightly safer for the Liberal Party (margin 5.9%) with the acquisition of solid Coalition booths (Graceville 60.6%, Graceville West 73.3% and Sherwood 63.7%) from Ryan and the loss of marginal Coalition booths (Kuraby 52.2% and Runcorn Heights 51.3%) to Rankin.
  •  

  • Oxley - Contracts in an easterly direction losing western parts of Ipswich to Blair and gaining Inala from Rankin. Division is classified as a marginal Labor seat (margin 0.5%) on the basis of the 1996 election results but is substantially safer on the 1993 election results (margin 15.5%). The Division now contains strong Labor booths in the Inala area (Inala 65.9%, Inala West 69.7%, Richlands East 72.2%, Serviceton 68.0% and Serviceton South 65.7%).
  •  

  • Petrie - Remains a fairly safe Liberal seat (margin 8.0%) with only minor changes in the north and in the south of the Division (loses Deception Bay in the north and gains parts of Stafford and Everton Park in the south).
  •  

  • Rankin - Status from marginal Labor seat to a notionally marginal Coalition seat (margin 1.1%) by the redistribution. Division loses safe Labor booths in Inala and Acacia Ridge to Oxley and gains a mixture of Labor and Coalition booths from Forde and Moreton. Despite the above changes the seat is relatively safe for Labor on the basis of 1993 election results (margin 8.7%).
  •  

  • Ryan - Remains a safe Liberal Party seat (margin 16.5%) with safe Liberal booths in Chelmer and Graceville being replaced by equally safe booths in Toowong.
  •  

  • Wide Bay - Doubles in area with the acquisition of extensive rural areas from Hinkler and Capricornia, loses Gympie to Fairfax. Remains a safe National Party seat (margin 17.7%).

The following table shows the electoral effects of the 1997 redistribution using the 1996 House of Representatives election results.

Effects of 1997 Redistribution - Queensland

1996 Election Results

Per cent

First Preference Votes

Two Party Votes

Division

ALP

LP

NP

AD

Oth

ALP

LP/NP

Blair (a)

Old

n.a.

n.a.

n.a.

n.a.

n.a.

n.a.

n.a.

New

26.2

46.2

15.9

5.9

5.9

32.5

67.5

Bowman (b)

Old

42.1

46.5

0.0

8.4

3.0

49.1

50.9

New

42.1

46.5

0.0

8.4

3.0

49.1

50.9

Brisbane

Old

38.2

44.7

0.0

9.0

8.1

50.4

49.6

New

38.7

44.0

0.6

8.8

8.0

50.4

49.6

Capricornia

Old

40.4

23.5

27.9

5.2

3.0

46.4

53.6

New

40.3

22.9

28.6

5.3

2.9

46.3

53.7

Dawson

Old

35.5

23.9

35.7

3.9

1.0

40.1

59.9

New

34.7

24.2

36.2

3.9

1.0

39.3

60.7

Dickson

Old

39.9

42.0

6.0

6.0

6.1

46.8

53.2

New

39.5

41.9

6.6

6.0

6.0

46.4

53.6

Fadden

Old

26.0

60.8

0.0

9.8

3.3

32.2

67.8

New

26.2

60.4

0.2

9.8

3.4

32.5

67.5

Fairfax

Old

24.0

62.1

0.0

8.0

5.8

31.9

68.1

New

24.7

42.7

18.1

8.1

6.3

32.3

67.7

Fisher

Old

22.9

45.1

20.6

5.3

6.2

29.7

70.3

New

23.3

56.2

9.2

5.7

5.6

29.7

70.3

Forde

Old

33.6

40.8

14.2

8.0

3.3

40.3

59.7

New

32.2

41.7

14.8

7.9

3.3

38.8

61.2

Griffith (b)

Old

41.3

43.8

3.7

6.2

5.0

48.5

51.5

New

41.3

43.8

3.7

6.2

5.0

48.5

51.5

Groom

Old

22.1

64.8

0.0

5.8

7.3

28.7

71.3

New

22.1

58.4

6.8

5.7

6.9

28.5

71.5

Herbert

Old

36.6

38.7

15.1

5.9

3.6

43.4

56.6

New

36.6

38.4

15.6

5.9

3.5

43.3

56.7

Hinkler

Old

36.1

0.0

55.5

5.1

3.3

39.6

60.4

New

37.9

0.5

53.1

5.1

3.3

41.5

58.5

Kennedy

Old

29.6

0.0

59.9

6.6

3.9

35.5

64.5

New

29.4

2.4

57.5

6.6

4.0

35.6

64.4

Leichhardt

Old

38.0

31.8

20.4

4.8

5.0

45.8

54.2

New

38.4

32.1

19.7

4.8

5.1

46.2

53.8

Lilley

Old

43.2

46.1

0.0

6.6

4.1

49.3

50.7

New

43.1

46.1

6.6

2.8

1.3

49.3

50.7

Longman

Old

30.7

38.7

17.6

7.4

5.6

38.4

61.6

New

31.8

40.3

14.5

7.5

5.9

39.8

60.2

McPherson (b)

Old

26.2

61.6

0.0

6.4

5.8

33.0

67.0

New

26.2

61.6

0.0

6.4

5.8

33.0

67.0

Maranoa

Old

21.0

0.0

70.5

6.1

2.4

24.3

75.7

New

23.7

0.9

67.0

6.0

2.5

27.1

72.9

Moncrieff

Old

22.8

64.8

0.0

4.9

7.5

29.7

70.3

New

22.7

64.9

5.2

4.8

2.3

29.6

70.4

Moreton

Old

36.9

50.2

0.0

6.5

6.1

44.9

55.1

New

36.0

50.9

0.0

6.9

6.3

44.1

55.9

Oxley(c)

Old

39.4

48.6

0.0

6.1

6.0

45.3

54.7

New

44.0

43.4

0.0

6.6

6.0

50.3

49.7

Petrie

Old

36.4

51.2

0.0

6.6

5.9

42.3

57.7

New

36.0

51.6

0.2

6.5

5.6

42.0

58.0

Rankin

Old

45.0

41.0

0.0

8.5

5.4

51.3

48.7

New

42.2

43.1

0.9

8.5

5.3

48.9

51.1

Ryan

Old

25.1

59.9

0.0

10.1

4.9

33.1

66.9

New

25.4

59.5

0.0

10.0

5.1

33.5

66.5

Wide Bay

Old

26.4

0.0

59.5

7.4

6.6

31.5

68.5

New

27.5

0.5

59.0

6.9

6.0

32.3

67.7

(a) New Division, results on old boundaries are not available.

(b) Divisions unaffected by the redistribution.

(c) Votes for the Independent member, Ms P Hanson, were recorded as Liberal Party votes by the Australian Electoral Commission.

n.a. not applicable

It could be argued that the Labor Party vote in Queensland at the 1996 election was unusually low and that a more accurate picture of the political consequences of the redistribution could be obtained from the 1993 election results. To this end the following table compares the two party preferred vote at the 1993 and 1996 election on the 1997 boundaries.

1997 Redistribution - Queensland

Two Party Preferred Votes - 1996 and 1993 Election

Per cent

Division

1996 Election

1993 Election

Old Boundaries

New Boundaries

Old Boundaries

New Boundaries

ALP

LP/NP

ALP

LP/NP

ALP

LP/NP

ALP

LP/NP

Blair

n.a.

n.a.

32.5

67.5

n.a.

n.a.

46.1

53.9

Bowman (a)

49.1

50.9

49.1

50.9

58.0

42.0

58.0

42.0

Brisbane

50.4

49.6

50.4

49.6

56.2

43.8

56.2

43.8

Capricornia

46.4

53.6

46.3

53.7

52.8

47.2

52.6

47.4

Dawson

40.1

59.9

39.3

60.7

46.0

54.0

45.5

54.5

Dickson

46.8

53.2

46.4

53.6

52.6

47.4

51.5

48.5

Fadden

32.2

67.8

32.5

67.5

44.8

55.2

44.5

55.5

Fairfax

31.9

68.1

32.3

67.7

39.9

60.1

40.6

59.4

Fisher

29.7

70.3

29.7

70.3

39.7

60.3

39.8

60.2

Forde

40.3

59.7

38.8

61.2

49.7

50.3

49.6

50.4

Griffith (a)

48.5

51.5

48.5

51.5

56.1

43.9

56.1

43.9

Groom

28.7

71.3

28.5

71.5

35.9

64.1

35.4

64.6

Herbert

43.4

56.6

43.3

56.7

53.3

46.7

52.7

47.3

Hinkler

39.6

60.4

41.5

58.5

50.0

50.0

52.0

48.0

Kennedy

35.5

64.5

35.6

64.4

47.5

52.5

46.9

53.1

Leichhardt

45.8

54.2

46.2

53.8

51.3

48.7

51.4

48.6

Lilley

49.3

50.7

49.3

50.7

56.2

43.8

56.4

43.6

Longman

38.4

61.6

39.8

60.2

46.5

53.5

49.2

50.8

McPherson (a)

33.0

67.0

33.0

67.0

41.5

58.5

41.5

58.5

Maranoa

24.3

75.7

27.1

72.9

31.9

68.1

34.7

65.3

Moncrieff

29.7

70.3

29.6

70.4

37.1

62.9

37.7

62.3

Moreton

44.9

55.1

44.1

55.9

50.2

49.8

50.3

49.7

Oxley

45.3

54.7

50.3

49.7

64.6

35.4

65.5

34.5

Petrie

42.3

57.7

42.0

58.0

52.2

47.8

52.0

48.0

Rankin

51.3

48.7

48.9

51.1

63.0

37.0

58.7

41.3

Ryan

33.1

66.9

33.5

66.5

39.3

60.7

39.9

60.1

Wide Bay

31.5

68.5

32.3

67.7

41.2

58.8

42.5

57.5

(a) Divisions unaffected by the 1997 redistribution.

n.a. not applicable

The most notable feature of the above table is the changed status of the Division of Hinkler from a marginal Coalition seat to a marginal Labor seat when using the 1993 election results. Other changes of note in the 1993 figures are the decline in the Labor Party vote in Rankin and Dickson and the decline in the vote for the Coalition in Longman and Maranoa.

Australian Capital Territory

On 9 October 1997 the Labor Party Member for Fraser, Mr Steve Dargavel, announced(10) that he had decided not to recontest his seat at the next election, thus preventing a potentially damaging preselection contest for the Labor Party in the ACT, a situation that was the result of the entitlement of the ACT being reduced from three to two at the 1997 determination.

Despite a rearguard campaign by the Member for Canberra, Hon. Bob McMullan, to include the population of Norfolk Island in the population of the ACT for representational entitlement purposes, the 1997 determination reduced the ACT's entitlement by one(11).

The main focus of submissions to the Redistribution Committee was the naming of the two ACT Divisions. The Committee received nine suggestions, only two of which gave any consideration to the drawing of new boundaries while the other seven related solely to the naming of the two Divisions(12).

In the end the Committee decided to retain the names of Fraser, for the northern Division, and Canberra, for the southern Division. In announcing its decision to retain Fraser and Canberra at the expense of Namadgi the Committee concluded that 'Canberra and Fraser are well established names within the ACT community and that there was insufficient reason for changing them'(13). A summary of the new Divisions is given in the table below.

Australian Capital Territory Electoral Divisions - 1997 Redistribution

Division

Electors

May 1997

Variation from quota May 1997

%

Projected enrolment Mar 2001

Variation from average Mar 2001

%

Area

sq km

Canberra

104 282

+1.94

108 213

+0.19

n.a.

Fraser

100 319

-1.94

107 804

-0.19

n.a.

Total

204 601

216 017

n.a.

Average

102 301

108 009

n.a. not available

Source: Proposed Federal Electoral Boundaries and Names for the ACT, Press Release, 29 September 1997.

The abolition of the Division of Namadgi means that the electoral map for the ACT returns to its traditional shape with one electorate based largely north of Lake Burley Griffin and the other based south of the lake. The Division of Fraser includes the districts of Belconnen, Gungahlin, North Canberra and parts of South Canberra while the Division of Canberra includes the remainder of South Canberra and the districts of Woden, Weston Creek and Tuggeranong. The two ACT electorates together with the Northern Territory seat are now the largest, in terms of electors enrolled, in Australia. Both new ACT seats are notional Labor seats with Fraser being considerably safer (margin 8.8%) than Canberra (margin 2.5%). The following table shows the electoral effects of the 1997 redistribution.

Effects of 1997 Redistribution - Australian Capital Territory

1996 Election Results

Per cent

First Preference Votes

Two Party Votes

Division

ALP

LP

NP

AD

Oth

ALP

LP/NP

Canberra

Old

48.3

38.1

0.0

0.0

13.6

57.5

42.5

New

45.5

43.8

0.0

0.0

10.7

52.5

47.5

Fraser

Old

50.5

39.6

0.0

0.0

9.9

57.3

42.7

New

50.6

37.8

0.0

0.0

11.6

58.8

41.2

Namadgi (a)

Old

45.1

45.1

0.0

0.0

9.8

51.5

48.5

New

n.a.

n.a.

n.a.

n.a.

n.a.

n.a.

n.a.

(a) Division abolished, results on new boundaries are not available.

n.a. not applicable

Conclusion

Since 1984 federal electoral redistributions have become an integral part of the Australian political landscape. There have been thirteen electoral redistributions in the various States and ACT since the current procedures came into force with the passage of the Commonwealth Electoral Legislation Amendment Act 1983(14). By way of contrast, in the thirteen years prior to 1983 nine redistributions were held.

Of the thirteen redistributions held under the current provisions, only the 1992 redistributions of Tasmania and the ACT and the 1997 redistribution of Western Australia were triggered by the statutory period of seven years elapsing after the preceding redistribution. The following schedule shows the date of the most recent redistribution held in each State and the ACT and the prospective date of the next redistribution scheduled to be held under the 'seven year' rule i.e. assuming that a redistribution is not triggered in the meantime by the malapportionment clause or a change in entitlements.

Redistribution Dates

 

Last Redistribution

Next Scheduled Redistribution (a)

New South Wales

31 Jan 1992

 

Feb 1999

Victoria

20 Dec 1994

 

Jan 2002

Queensland

Dec 1997

(b)

Jan 2005

South Australia

17 Jan 1992

 

Feb 1999

Western Australia

6 Mar 1997

 

Apr 2004

Tasmania

1 Apr 1994

 

May 2001

Australian Capital Territory

Dec 1997

(b)

Jan 2005

(a) Under section 59 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 a direction initiating a redistribution must be made within 30 days of the end of the period of seven years after a State or ACT was last redistributed.

(b) Date yet to be determined.

According to the above the next States to be redistributed are New South Wales and South Australia, with redistributions scheduled to commence in February 1999. However, this schedule may be disrupted by the timing of the next Federal election. Under section 59 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 a redistribution cannot commence within one year before the date of expiry of the term of a House of Representatives. The date of expiry for the current House of Representatives is 30 April 1999. Assuming that the current House of Representatives serves its full term then the redistributions scheduled in New South Wales and South Australia for February 1999 will have to be delayed till after the 1999 election. If the current House of Representatives is dissolved before February 1999 then the above schedule will stand as long as the Electoral Commission is of the view that there will be no change in the representation entitlements of the affected States at the next determination of entitlements.

Endnotes

  1.  

  2. Submissions by the Australian Labor Party, the Liberal Party and the National Party to the Redistribution Committee for Queensland all commented on the quantitative criteria. Redistribution Committee for Queensland, 1997 Proposed Redistribution of Queensland into Electoral Divisions [1997].

     

  3. Australia, Parliament, Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, Electoral Redistributions; Report on the Effectiveness and Appropriateness of the Redistribution Provisions of Parts III and IV of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, AGPS, Canberra, 1995.

     

  4. ibid., Recommendation 3.

     

  5. Australian Electoral Commission, 1997 Redistribution of Western Australia into Electoral Divisions, AGPS, Canberra, 1997.

     

  6. Redistribution Committee for Queensland, 1997 Proposed Redistribution of Queensland into Electoral Divisions [1997].

     

  7. ibid.

     

  8. Canberra Times, 12 September 1997.

     

  9. Age, 21 August 1997.

     

  10. Australian, 14 October 1997.

     

  11. Canberra Times, 10 October 1997.

     

  12. Mr McMullan argued before the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters that as some electors on Norfolk Island are enrolled for the ACT and are counted in the population of the ACT then the entire population of Norfolk Island should be included with the ACT's population. The Committee did not support Mr McMullan's submission. Australia, Parliament, Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, The 1996 Federal Election: Report of the Inquiry into the conduct of the 1996 Federal Election and matters related thereto, AGPS, Canberra, 1997.

     

  13. Redistribution Committee for the Australian Capital Territory, 1997 Proposed Redistribution of the Australian Capital Territory into Electoral Divisions [1997].

     

  14. ibid.

     

  15. This figure excludes the redistributions in each State and the ACT as a result of the expansion of the Parliament in 1984.

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