On the 3 July 2020, the Australian Electoral Commissioner (AEC), Mr Tom Rogers, announced sweeping changes to the distribution of federal electoral divisions, necessitating the addition of one seat to Victoria’s entitlement, and taking away a seat from both Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
Furthermore, the NSW Electoral Commission have begun a process of redistribution ahead of the next NSW State election in 2023. These changes will have a significant impact heading into the next Federal and State Elections, with all parties concerned with how redistribution will affect their chances of attaining power in their respective contests.
The following States and Territory seat allocations will change as follows:
- Victoria: Increase from 38 to 39 seats
- WA: Decrease from 16 to 15 seats
- NT: Decrease from two seats to one seat*
*The determination by the AEC to remove the NT’s second seat has received some negative feedback, with multiple stakeholders concerned that the decision could lead to less representation of Aboriginal people living in the Northern Territory.
Due to these concerns, Labor – with the support of both Senator Malarndirri McCarthy and Country Liberal Senator Sam McMahon, have introduced a bill to amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act of 1918, proposing to increase the Northern Territory’s minimum entitlement to two members of the House.
Furthermore, multiple Nationals Senators including Senator the Hon Matthew Canavan, Senator Perin Davey, Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie, and Senator Susan McDonald have supported the bill. Senator The Hon Mathias Cormann, in his role as Special Minister of State, has asked the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) to inquire and report on this bill.
FEDERAL ELECTORAL IMPACT:
Renowned ABC Election Analyst, Mr Antony Green, has published analysis on likely changes to new and abolished seats due to redistribution. Green has stated that at least half of Perth’s seats will undergo massive changes and will alter their political complexion. The Division of Tangney, currently held by the Hon Ben Morton MP (Liberal), is most under-quota and will likely be merged with other seats under quota in the Perth Metro Area.
The Division of Cowan marginally held by Dr Anne Aly MP (Labor) is also significantly under-quota and will likely see consequential changes to its makeup. In consideration of current seat margins in Perth, and the slim margin currently held by Dr Aly, it is most likely that WA’s lost seat will come at Labor’s expense.
In Victoria, the Liberal held seats of Kooyong, Chisholm, Deakin and Menzies are all under quota, as are the Greens seat of Melbourne plus Labor’s Scullin, Jagajaga and Hotham. Antony Green states that “Everything in eastern Melbourne will need to expand, and that is likely to soak up a lot of the excess in the growth corridor in south-east Melbourne.”
Mr Green has concluded that a new seat will likely being drawn in Melbourne north-west, but achieving that will involve a lot of other seats shifting around. Given most seats currently over quota are Labor held, it is probable that a new seat in Victoria will result in the additional MP being elected for the Labor party.
NSW STATE CHANGES:
New South Wales is presently going through a process of redistribution, with the NSW Electoral Commission currently reviewing submissions from parties and stakeholders. While the Electoral Commission has yet to make a final determination, submissions by all parties generally concur that no seats should be abolished in regional NSW and that the geographical size of electorates should not substantially increase.
Further, there is a consensus that due to population growth in the Sydney Metro Area, that new electorates could potentially be added to reflect such growth. As expected, the submissions made by the major parties seek to improve their electoral chances in the next NSW State Election scheduled for March 2023.
The outcome of NSW seat redistribution is likely to evolve in the weeks and months ahead, as further submissions will be made on the draft determination of the Electoral Commission once the Redistribution panel has concluded their initial review.
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