The process of federal redistributions: a quick guide

14 November 2017

PDF version [387KB]

Dr Damon Muller
Politics and Public Administration Section

The process of drawing and adjusting electoral boundaries in Australia is called a ‘redistribution’, and at the federal level is governed by Part IV of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (CEA). Currently, five redistributions—for Tasmania, Queensland, South Australia (SA), Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT)—are in progress (the Tasmanian redistribution should be completed on 14 November 2017). While this quick guide focuses on federal redistributions, it is worth noting that redistributions also occur within the states and territories for state-level electorates using separate processes.

The process of a federal redistribution is complex and involves a number of steps. Some of the steps rely on objective information that is produced outside the redistribution process, and some of the steps have the capacity for taking into account the opinions of those who are affected by redistribution decisions. Importantly, the process is undertaken independently of the Government and the Parliament.

Redistribution decisions are often erroneously attributed to the Government or the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC). While the AEC is involved in the redistribution process in an administrative capacity, the decisions are made by a Redistribution Committee appointed for each redistribution. The Committee consists of the Australian Electoral Officer for the relevant state or territory (a statutory appointment), the Surveyor-General of the state and the Auditor-General of the state (also typically statutory officers).

Any objections to the proposals put forth by a Redistribution Committee are considered by the augmented Electoral Commission, which is made up of the Redistribution Committee and the two members of the Electoral Commission other than the Electoral Commissioner.[1] The augmented Electoral Commission makes the final determination of the redistribution, and may elect to keep the boundaries proposed by the Redistribution Committee, or modify them.

As one expert has noted, ‘Australia’s current redistribution process is widely recognised as independent and fair’:

The [electoral] commissions’ structures keep them independent of the parties and their authority to order maps into effect keeps them independent of the parliament. Their process is transparent and accountable, and redistributions are triggered frequently and automatically—in four jurisdictions they take place after each election. Elector tolerances are relatively tight and in several jurisdictions they apply when it counts—at the time of subsequent elections. The criteria generate relatively meaningful districts and the outcomes are regularly accepted by the parties and the public.

Redistribution triggers

There are three triggers for initiating a federal-level redistribution, set out in Section 59 of the CEA:

  • where the representation entitlement of a state changes (see next section)
  • where the divisions of a state are malapportioned, or
  • where a redistribution has not been held for seven years because neither of the other two triggers have been met.

The operations of the triggers are based on either time or population numbers, and are largely objective and transparent, being based on published data.

The malapportionment trigger is invoked when the number of electors in more than one third of the divisions in the state or territory differs from the average enrolment by more than ten per cent for more than two months (monthly enrolment statistics are published by the AEC on its website). The malapportionment trigger has been present in the CEA since 1984 and has never been used.

The entitlement determination

Each state and territory is divided into electoral divisions (or seats) for the House of Representatives. The total number of divisions across the country is determined by population and the Australian Constitution, and is required to be as close as practical to twice the number of senators (that is, twice 76). Currently there are 150 divisions for the House of Representatives, although this will change (see further below).

The representation entitlement for all states and territories is determined by applying the populations of the states and territories to a particular formula. This determines how many representatives, and therefore electoral divisions, each state and territory is entitled to.

Under section 46 of the CEA, the Electoral Commissioner ascertains the populations of the states and territories from the Australian Statistician the day after the anniversary of the first meeting of a newly elected House of Representatives, provided that the ‘House of Representatives has continued for a period of 12 months’. Section 48 of the Act specifies the manner in which representation entitlements are calculated from these population numbers.

As the current House of Representatives in the 45th Parliament first met on 30 August 2016, on 31 August 2017 the Electoral Commissioner took the latest population numbers published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and applied the entitlement determination formula.

The Electoral Commissioner’s determination, published on 31 August 2017, found that due to the patterns of population growth in the states and territories, Victoria and the ACT would both gain one new seat each, and that SA would lose one seat. This will bring the total number of divisions (and members) for the next (46th) Parliament to 151. The actual redistributions of electoral boundaries for these jurisdictions, however, have only recently commenced. Details of the number of members for each state (and for the Parliament) at every election since 1901 are in Appendix C.

Redistributions: the process

A redistribution follows a set process that has several opportunities for public input. Sitting members and/or their political parties, and other political parties, typically take advantage of these opportunities to submit comments, but have no special role in the process above any other interested person. As discussed below, the process ignores political consequences when determining new electoral boundaries.

In the report of the most recent NSW redistribution, completed in October 2015, the Committee summarised the requirements for drawing new electoral boundaries:

In summary, the primary criteria are to:

  • endeavour to ensure that the number of electors in the proposed electoral divisions are within a range of 3.5 per cent below or above the projected enrolment quota at the projection time, and
  • ensure that current enrolments are within 10 per cent below or above the current enrolment quota.

The secondary criteria are community of interests, means of communication and travel, and physical features and area. The augmented Electoral Commission also considers the boundaries of existing electoral divisions; however this criterion is subordinate to the others.

The requirements are set out in section 66 of the CEA.

The CEA states that the provision for preserving existing boundaries is subordinate to the other matters. That is, the Redistribution Committee is free to disregard the current electoral boundaries if doing so better accommodates population change and reflects community of interests, travel and communication or physical features. Notably, there is no provision in the CEA for the consideration of political outcomes or electoral fairness in federal redistributions (although South Australian law does have such a provision for state-level redistributions).

Requirements for determining boundaries

The primary requirement for a redistribution is that all of the newly-drawn boundaries fulfil two enrolment quotas:

  • the malapportionment provision, as per the redistribution triggers, that no division must differ from the  average enrolment per division for the state by more than ten percent (calculated by taking the number of enrolments in the state and dividing by the number of divisions) and
  • the new boundaries are required to have projected enrolments that differ by no more than 3.5 per cent from the state average.

The enrolment projections are prepared by the ABS, and the ABS states that they are based largely on the calculated projections of Australian residents aged 18 or over.[2] Typically the projected enrolments are for a period three and a half years after the redistribution is complete. However in the case of the current Victorian redistribution the AEC has determined that the projection time for enrolments is only two years. Subsection 63A(3) of the CEA allows the AEC to use a shorter time for the enrolment projection if it believes that a new redistribution of the state will be required sooner than seven years. This suggests that the AEC believes that the population growth of Victoria is such that another seat will be gained at the entitlement determination following the sitting of the next (46th) Parliament.

Note that, while the whole Australian population is used for the determination of entitlement (the number of electoral divisions in each state and territory), it is only the enrolled population (and projected enrolled population) that is used for determining the number of electors within the actual boundaries of each division. Average enrolments are determined at the beginning of the redistribution process based on current enrolments, and the enrolment projections are published by the AEC as part of the redistribution process.

In regard to the secondary criteria (community of interests, means of communication and travel, and physical features), because redistributions are for entire states or territories, Redistribution Committees tend to take a state-wide view of these issues. However, in the absence of significantly different growth patterns and population movements in the state, unless the redistribution is required to accommodate the addition or removal of a division, boundary changes may potentially be minor.

Public consultation

Once a redistribution commences there is a public call for written suggestions (the AEC provides guidelines for making submissions). These suggestions are then made available for public comment. The Redistribution Committee will consider the suggestions and produce a set of boundary proposals, which are then published with a call for written objections to the proposals. The objections are then published and written comments on the objections are invited. The augmented Electoral Commission then considers the objections and makes a final determination.

In cases where the proposed changes are particularly contentious, such as in the most recent NSW redistribution, the augmented Electoral Commission may hold public hearings where objections can be discussed, before making its determination.

Interpretation of the secondary criteria listed in section 66 (community of interests, means of communication and travel, and physical features) by interested parties is largely subjective. Different parties will tend to interpret the criteria to their own ends in their own submissions. The community of interest criterion is particularly open to interpretation, and may be discussed in terms of rural versus urban, dominant industries, socioeconomic class, ethnic backgrounds, and so on.

The CEA (section 67) provides that a Redistribution Committee must state in writing its reasoning for its redistribution proposal, and, if any member of the Committee disagrees, the reason for the disagreement. Typically, however, the decision is unanimous.

When a redistribution does need to accommodate the addition or removal of a division, the effects of that will usually extend well beyond the people enrolled in the division affected. The removal of one division (of approximately 110,000 electors) in NSW in the 2016 redistribution resulted in 919,914 electors (18.91 per cent of all NSW electors) moving electorates.

Where an existing division must be abolished due to the results of the entitlement determination (see above), the Committee must still abide by the requirements of section 66 of the CEA, considering the current and projected populations first, and other factors such as community of interests after that. The decision about which division to abolish is usually suggested by other boundary changes necessitated in accommodating areas where growth and population rates have changed.

Political considerations?

As noted above, there is no provision in the CEA for the consideration of political outcomes or electoral fairness in federal redistributions. It has been noted that, in 1984, shortly after the AEC was created and the process of redistributions was separated from the Parliament, a federal redistribution for Western Australia was subject to an appeal in terms of the ‘political effects’ of the redistribution. The Electoral Commissioner at the time sought legal advice as to whether the augmented Electoral Commission had the power to decline to hear arguments on the ‘political effects’ of a redistribution in an objection to a redistribution.

The advice from the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department was that the augmented Electoral Commission could, at its discretion, either include or exclude objections due to political effects. The Commission took the position that it would not consider the political effects of a redistribution. Maintaining impartiality as to the potential political effects of a redistribution has remained part of the redistribution process since that point federally, and has also been adopted by most state and territory redistribution processes (as noted previously, South Australia is an exception to this).


The most recent redistributions have taken 13 to 14 months to complete. The Electoral Commissioner must direct that a redistribution commences ‘forthwith after making the determination’ (CEA, paragraph 59(2)(a)). The redistributions of Victoria, SA and the ACT commenced on 4 September 2017.

The AEC has projected that the redistributions will be complete by July 2018, but if the recent past redistributions are any indication, an election before October or November 2018 could result in the triggering of a mini-redistribution for each jurisdiction. Appendix D provides dates and timeframes of recent redistributions.

Naming electorates

Under the CEA a Redistribution Committee and the augmented Electoral Commission are not restricted in their approach to naming new divisions or renaming old divisions. However in practice they tend to follow a set of non-mandatory guidelines which emerged out of recommendations from a 1987 Joint Select Committee on Electoral Reform (JSCER) inquiry.

In brief, the guidelines state that:

  • Electorates should be named after deceased Australians who have rendered outstanding service to their country, and deceased former Prime Ministers should be considered when naming new divisions.
  • Electorate names that date from the time of Federation should be retained (a list of Federation divisions is in Appendix E).
  • Place names should be avoided.
  • Aboriginal names should be used where appropriate, and existing Aboriginal division names should be retained.
  • Names should not duplicate existing state electoral district names.
  • Names of divisions should not be changed or moved to new areas without very good reasons.
  • When multiple divisions are combined the new division should be the name of the old division with the greatest number of electors in the new boundaries.

As an example of the practical application of the guidelines, in the 2016 NSW redistribution the division of Hunter was abolished. Around half of the electors from the division of Hunter went into the neighbouring division of Charlton. However, as Hunter was a Federation electorate, it was decided to rename Charlton to Hunter to preserve the Federation name.

A recent analysis has concluded that 15 seats in the current parliament (10 per cent) are named after women, while 92 (61 per cent) are named after men, and three (2 per cent) are named after families.

At the 2016 redistribution for the ACT, the division of Fraser (named after John Fraser, a member of the House of Representatives for the ACT from 1951 to 1970) was renamed to Fenner (after scientist Frank Fenner) in order to free-up the name of Fraser for a future division in Victoria to be named after former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser. As such, it is likely that Victoria will gain a division of Fraser in the upcoming redistribution of that state, although whether this will be a new division or a renamed existing division is yet unknown.

What happens if an election is called when a redistribution in is progress?

As noted above, if the calculated representation entitlement is different to the current entitlement for a state or territory, then the state or territory must undergo a redistribution. The 2017 entitlement determination indicated that SA must lose one seat and the ACT and Victoria must gain one seat each.

If a federal election is called and a redistribution is due for a state or territory but is not complete, and the state or territory has not changed its entitlement, the election will be conducted under the existing boundaries. However, section 76 of the CEA provides that, if a state or territory changes its entitlement and an election is called before the resulting redistribution is complete, the state or territory must undergo a ‘mini-redistribution’. A mini-redistribution is triggered when the writs for an election are issued.

Where a state or territory is to lose a seat (such as in SA), the two adjacent divisions with the combined lowest number of electors are combined into a single electorate. When a seat is to be gained (as with Victoria and the ACT), the two adjacent electorates with the combined largest number of electors are split into three electorates, each of which has, as close as possible, the same number of electors. These changes must happen between the issue of the writs for the election and the declaration of nominations (between 10 and 27 days after the issue of the writs).

For the purpose of conducting a mini-redistribution, the number of electors in electorates is the most recent monthly gazetted enrolment figures. It is possible to estimate the likely result of mini-redistributions for SA, Victoria and the ACT on the basis of enrolments as of 30 September 2017. This calculation is an estimate only on the basis of the current enrolments, and changes in the relative enrolments in the Victorian and SA divisions could mean that a different set of electorates would be subject to any mini-redistribution by the time an election was called.

  • In South Australia, the large rural divisions of Barker and Grey would be combined into the one division, which would be named Barker-Grey. Both of these seats are currently held by Liberal members.
  • In Victoria, the divisions of Gorton and McEwen would be split into three divisions: Gorton, McEwen, and Gorton-McEwan[3]. Gorton is currently a safe Labor seat and McEwen is a fairly safe Labor seat.
  • The two ACT seats of Canberra and Fenner would be split into three divisions: Canberra, Fenner and Canberra-Fenner. Fenner is currently a safe Labor seat and Canberra is a fairly safe Labor seat.

The distribution of the two-party preferred vote in each of these seats from the 2016 federal election can be seen in a July 2017 Library Flagpost on the topic.

The mini-redistribution provisions have never been used, and as such it is impossible to say exactly how the Redistribution Commissioners (the Electoral Commissioner and the Australian Electoral Officer for the state, or the senior Divisional Returning Officer in the case of the ACT) would split up two divisions into three. Mini-redistributions in SA, Victoria and the ACT would likely leave very little time to decide pre-selection for the newly created (or newly abolished) seats, and could result in extensive voter confusion.

Further reading


Appendix A: the fate of recently abolished divisions


The most recent NSW redistribution saw the division of Hunter abolished. However, the division of Charlton was moved so that it contained about half the population of the former division of Hunter and half of the former Charlton. Charlton was then renamed to Hunter (notionally marginal Australian Labor Party (ALP)[4]). The sitting Member for the previous division of Hunter (Joel Fitzgibbon, ALP) ran for and won the new division of Hunter, while the sitting Member for Charlton (Pat Conroy, ALP) ran for and won the division of Shortland (notional fairly safe ALP) at the 2016 federal election. The previous Member for Shortland (Jill Hall, ALP) retired before the 2016 federal election.


In the 2009 redistribution of NSW the division of Reid (safe ALP) was abolished. The Redistribution Committee proposed renaming the existing division of Lowe to McMahon which the augmented Electoral Commission then renamed to Reid (and the existing division of Prospect was renamed to McMahon). The new division of Reid (notionally safe ALP) had about one third of its population from the previous division of Reid, and two thirds from the existing division of Lowe (marginal ALP). The Member for Lowe (John Murphy, ALP) ran and won the new seat of Reid, and the Member for the previous division of Prospect (Chris Bowen, ALP) ran in and won the new division of McMahon (notionally safe ALP) in the 2010 election. The Member for Reid (Laurie Ferguson, ALP) ran for and won the division of Werriwa (notionally safe ALP). The previous Member for Werriwa (Chris Hayes, ALP) ran for and won the division of Fowler (notionally safe ALP).


The division of Gwydir (safe National Party (NAT)) was abolished, with most of the population transferred to the division of Parkes (safe NAT in 2007), and a smaller proportion to Hunter (notionally safe ALP in 2007) and other electorates. The sitting Member for Gwydir (John Anderson, NAT) retired prior to the 2007 federal election, and the sitting Member for Parkes (John Cobb, NAT) moved to the seat of Calare (notionally safe NAT) at the 2007 election, with a new Member (Mark Coulton, NAT) elected in Parkes.


In the 2003 redistribution of SA the division of Bonython (safe ALP) was abolished, with most of the population of Bonython going into the division of Wakefield (safe Liberal Party (LIB) at the 2001 election). The Member for the previous division of Bonython (Martyn Evans, ALP) ran in the new seat of Wakefield (notionally marginal ALP) in the 2004 election and narrowly lost to a new Liberal candidate. The previous Member for Wakefield (Neil Andrew, LIB) retired prior to the 2004 election.


The seat of Corinella was abolished. The former Member for Corinella (Alan Griffin, ALP) went on to contest the seat of Bruce (notional marginal ALP) in the 1996 election and won against the incumbent Member (Julian Beale, LIB) in what had previously been a fairly safe Liberal seat.


This redistribution abolished the divisions of Phillip and Dundas, and created the division of Paterson (notionally marginal LIB). The Member for Phillip (Jeannette McHugh, ALP) contested and won the division of Grayndler (notional safe ALP), and the Member for Dundas (Philip Ruddock, LIB) contested and won the existing division of Berowra (safe LIB). The previous Member for Grayndler (Leo McLeay, ALP) contested and won the division of Watson (fairly safe ALP). The previous Member for Berowra (Paul Edwards, LIB) retired before the election. The winner of the division of Paterson (Bob Horne, ALP) was new to Parliament.


The division of Hawker was abolished, and its population mainly went to the divisions of Boothby and Hindmarsh. The Member for Hawker (Christine Gallus, LIB) went on to contest and win Hindmarsh, which was notionally marginal Liberal, at the 1993 election. The previous Member for Hindmarsh (John Scott, ALP), which was previously a marginal ALP electorate, retired before the election.


The divisions of Henty and Streeton were abolished and the new division of Corinella was created (which did not include any of the electors of Henty or Streeton). The Member for Henty (Joan Child, ALP), a fairly safe ALP electorate, retired in 1990. The Member for Streeton (Tony Lamb, ALP) went on to contest the division of Deakin (which was notionally marginal ALP) and lost at the 1990 federal election.


Appendix B: recent redistributions

Redistributions were undertaken in 2016 for New South Wales (NSW), Western Australia (WA), the ACT and the Northern Territory (NT). The submissions to these redistributions are still available online.

NT (2017)

Public suggestions

Comments on public suggestions

Objections to the redistribution proposal

Comments on  objections

Final determination report

NSW (2016)

Public suggestions

Comments on public suggestions

Objections to the redistribution proposal

Comments on objections

Final determination report

WA (2016)

Public suggestions

Comments on public suggestions

Objections to the redistribution proposal

Comments on objections

Final determination report

ACT (2016)

Public suggestions

Comments on public suggestions

Objections to the redistribution proposal

Comments on  objections

Final determination report


Appendix C: number of House of Representatives seats by state for each federal election

NSW Vic. Qld SA WA Tas. NT ACT Total Total with full
voting rights(a)
1901 26 23 9 7 5 5 75 75
1903 26 23 9 7 5 5 75 75
1906 27 22 9 7 5 5 75 75
1910 27 22 9 7 5 5 75 75
1913 27 21 10 7 5 5 75 75
1914 27 21 10 7 5 5 75 75
1917 27 21 10 7 5 5 75 75
1919 27 21 10 7 5 5 75 75
1922 28 20 10 7 5 5 1 76 75
1925 28 20 10 7 5 5 1 76 75
1928 28 20 10 7 5 5 1 76 75
1929 28 20 10 7 5 5 1 76 75
1931 28 20 10 7 5 5 1 76 75
1934 28 20 10 6 5 5 1 75 74
1937 28 20 10 6 5 5 1 75 74
1940 28 20 10 6 5 5 1 75 74
1943 28 20 10 6 5 5 1 75 74
1946 28 20 10 6 5 5 1 75 74
1949 47 33 18 10 8 5 1 1 123 121
1951 47 33 18 10 8 5 1 1 123 121
1954 47 33 18 10 8 5 1 1 123 121
1955 46 33 18 11 9 5 1 1 124 122
1958 46 33 18 11 9 5 1 1 124 122
1961 46 33 18 11 9 5 1 1 124 122
1963 46 33 18 11 9 5 1 1 124 122
1966 46 33 18 11 9 5 1 1 124 123
1969 45 34 18 12 9 5 1 1 125 125
1972 45 34 18 12 9 5 1 1 125 125
1974 45 34 18 12 10 5 1 2 127 127
1975 45 34 18 12 10 5 1 2 127 127
1977 43 33 19 11 10 5 1 2 124 124
1980 43 33 19 11 11 5 1 2 125 125
1983 43 33 19 11 11 5 1 2 125 125
1984 51 39 24 13 13 5 1 2 148 148
1987 51 39 24 13 13 5 1 2 148 148
1990 51 38 24 13 14 5 1 2 148 148
1993 50 38 25 12 14 5 1 2 147 147
1996 50 37 26 12 14 5 1 3 148 148
1998 50 37 27 12 14 5 1 2 148 148
2001 50 37 27 12 15 5 2 2 150 150
2004 50 37 28 11 15 5 2(b) 2 150 150
2007 49 37 29 11 15 5 2 2 150 150
2010 48 37 30 11 15 5 2 2 150 150
2013 48 37 30 11 15 5 2 2 150 150
2016 47 37 30 11 16 5 2 2 150 150
2019? 47 38 30 10 16 5 2 3 151 151

(a) The member for the Northern Territory had limited voting rights between 1922 and 1968. The member for the Australian Capital Territory had limited voting rights between 1949 and 1966.

(b) The NT was reduced to 1 seat after the entitlement determination of 19 February 2003 but reverted to two divisions after the passage of the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Representation in the House of Representatives) Act 2004 and did not undergo a redistribution.

Key: numbers in green indicate a seat gained since the last election, and numbers in red indicate a seat lost. Shaded cells indicate that the seat has undergone a redistribution prior to the election.

Source: Compiled by the Parliamentary Library from various sources.

Appendix D: start dates and selected milestones of recent redistributions

State Date
Days until
Days from
closed to
 Date Finalised Days from
released until
Total time
Days Months
NT 15/10/2015 141 189 7/02/2017 151 481 15
NSW 1/12/2014 172 147 25/02/2016 132 451 14
WA 1/12/2014 130 133 19/01/2016 151 414 13
ACT 1/12/2014 179 105 28/01/2016 139 423 13
SA 12/01/2011 114 98 16/12/2011 126 338 11
Vic. 1/02/2010 67 112 24/12/2010 147 326 10
Qld 19/02/2009 78 77 15/12/2009 144 299 9
NSW 19/02/2009 71 98 22/12/2009 137 306 10
Tas. 13/02/2008 86 105 16/02/2009 178 369 12
NT 16/01/2008 72 84 19/08/2008 60 216 7
WA 14/12/2007 105 126 10/12/2008 131 362 11
NSW 2/12/2005 112 98 22/11/2006 145 355 11
Qld 2/12/2005 91 112 22/11/2006 152 355 11
ACT 30/11/2004 108 98 9/12/2005 168 374 12
Qld 12/03/2003 100 63 25/11/2003 95 258 8
SA 12/03/2003 114 32 17/12/2003 134 280 9
Vic. 18/01/2002 91 133 29/01/2003 152 376 12
WA 23/12/1999 92 63 20/11/2000 178 333 10
NT 23/12/1999 71 56 21/12/2000 237 364 11
Tas. 14/04/1999 44 84 22/11/1999 94 222 7
NSW 26/02/1999 49 91 11/02/2000 210 350 11
SA 10/02/1999 37 63 13/08/1999 84 184 6

Source: AEC and Parliamentary Library calculations.


Appendix E: the Federation divisions and their fate

State Divisions Time in use History
NSW Barrier 1901–22 Abolished on redistribution of seats, 1922
  Bland 1901–06 Abolished on redistribution of seats, 1906
  Canobolas 1901–06 Abolished on redistribution of seats, 1906
  Cowper   Still in existence
  Dalley 1901–69 Abolished on redistribution of seats, 1968
  Darling 1901–77 Abolished on redistribution of seats, 1977
  East Sydney 1901–69 Abolished on redistribution of seats, 1968
  Eden-Monaro   Still in existence
  Gwydir 1901–2007 Abolished on redistribution of seats, 2006
  Hume   Still in existence
  Hunter   Still in existence
  Illawarra 1901–22 Abolished on redistribution of seats, 1922
  Lang 1901–77 Abolished on redistribution of seats, 1977
  Macquarie   Still in existence
  Newcastle   Still in existence
  New England   Still in existence
  North Sydney   Still in existence
  Parkes   Still in existence
  Parramatta   Still in existence
  Richmond   Still in existence
  Riverina   Still in existence
  Robertson   Still in existence
  South Sydney 1901–34 Abolished on redistribution of seats, 1934
  Wentworth   Still in existence
  Werriwa   Still in existence
  West Sydney 1901–69 Abolished on redistribution of seats, 1968
Vic Balaclava 1901–84 Abolished on redistribution of seats, 1984
  Ballaarat   Still in existence; renamed Ballarat 1977
  Bendigo   Still in existence
  Bourke 1901–49 Abolished on redistribution of seats, 1948
  Corangamite   Still in existence
  Corinella 1901–06 Abolished on redistribution of seats, 1906
    1990–96 Abolished on redistribution of seats, 1994
  Corio   Still in existence
  Echuca 1901–37 Abolished on redistribution of seats, 1936
  Flinders   Still in existence
  Gippsland   Still in existence
  Grampians 1901–22 Abolished on redistribution of seats, 1922
  Indi   Still in existence
  Kooyong   Still in existence
  Laanecoorie 1901–13 Abolished on redistribution of seats, 1912
  Melbourne   Still in existence
  Melbourne Ports   Still in existence
  Mernda 1901–13 Abolished on redistribution of seats, 1912
  Moira 1901–06 Abolished on redistribution of seats, 1906
  Northern Melbourne 1901–06 Abolished on redistribution of seats, 1906
  Southern Melbourne 1901–06 Abolished on redistribution of seats, 1906
  Wannon   Still in existence
  Wimmera 1901–77 Abolished on redistribution of seats, 1977
  Yarra 1901–69 Abolished on redistribution of seats, 1968
Qld Brisbane   Still in existence
  Capricornia   Still in existence
  Darling Downs 1901–84 Abolished on redistribution of seats, 1984
  Herbert   Still in existence
  Kennedy   Still in existence
  Maranoa   Still in existence
  Moreton   Still in existence
  Oxley   Still in existence
  Wide Bay   Still in existence
WA Coolgardie 1901–13 Abolished on redistribution of seats, 1912
  Fremantle   Still in existence
  Kalgoorlie   Still in existence
  Perth   Still in existence
  Swan   Still in existence

Note: Corinella was abolished twice, once in 1906 and for the second time in 1994. Only 63 of the first Parliament’s 75 divisions were Federation divisions as the first MPs from both Tasmania and South Australia were elected ‘at large’. This was due to the colonial parliaments not having managed to distribute the colonies in time for the 1901 election (held on 29 and 30 March), and meant that each of these MPs was known as the ‘Member for Tasmania’ and the ‘Member for South Australia’. The first named divisions for Tasmania and South Australia were not used until the 1903 election.


[1].     Confusingly, the ‘Australian Electoral Commission’, under the CEA (section 6) consists of three members, including the Chair, who is usually a retired judge, the Electoral Commissioner, and a third member, usually the Australian Statistician (the head of the Australian Bureau of Statistics). In order to distinguish between the statutory agency, also referred to as the Australian Electoral Commission, this is often referred to informally as  the ‘three-person Commission’. All links current as of 14 November 2017.

[2].     The resident population 18 and over is only an estimate of the population that is eligible to vote, as resident non-citizens who cannot vote are included in the count.

[3].     The CEA says the newly created division ‘shall have a name consisting of the names of each Division included in the pair of contiguous Divisions arranged in alphabetical order and hyphenated’, (subsection 76(12)).

[4].     Details on the candidates and the notional election margins have been taken from Adam Carr’s Australian Election Archive.


For copyright reasons some linked items are only available to members of Parliament.

© Commonwealth of Australia

Creative commons logo

Creative Commons

With the exception of the Commonwealth Coat of Arms, and to the extent that copyright subsists in a third party, this publication, its logo and front page design are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia licence.

In essence, you are free to copy and communicate this work in its current form for all non-commercial purposes, as long as you attribute the work to the author and abide by the other licence terms. The work cannot be adapted or modified in any way. Content from this publication should be attributed in the following way: Author(s), Title of publication, Series Name and No, Publisher, Date.

To the extent that copyright subsists in third party quotes it remains with the original owner and permission may be required to reuse the material.

Inquiries regarding the licence and any use of the publication are welcome to

This work has been prepared to support the work of the Australian Parliament using information available at the time of production. The views expressed do not reflect an official position of the Parliamentary Library, nor do they constitute professional legal opinion.

Any concerns or complaints should be directed to the Parliamentary Librarian. Parliamentary Library staff are available to discuss the contents of publications with Senators and Members and their staff. To access this service, clients may contact the author or the Library‘s Central Enquiry Point for referral.