Divisions of the Australian House of Representatives

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Electoral divisions for the Australian House of Representatives are commonly known as electorates, seats or divisions. There are currently 150 single-member electorates for the Australian House of Representatives.

Apportionment[edit]

Section 24 of the Constitution of Australia requires that the total number of members of the Australian House of Representatives shall be "as nearly as practicable" twice as many as the number of members of the Australian Senate.

Section 24 also requires that electorates be apportioned among the states in proportion to their respective populations; provided that each original state has at least 5 members in the House of Representatives, a provision that gives Tasmania higher representation than its population would justify.

The Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 sets out further provisions.[1] There are also two electorates in both the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.

Within each state and territory, electoral boundaries are redrawn from time to time in a process known as redistribution. This takes place at least once every 15 years, or when the state's entitlement to the number of members of the House of Representatives changes. Boundaries are drawn by a Redistribution Committee, and apportionment within a state is on the basis of the number of enrolled voters rather than total residents or "population".

The number of enrolled voters in each Division cannot vary by more than 10% from the average across a state or territory, nor can the number of voters vary by more than 3.5% from the average projected enrolment three-and-a-half years into the future. However, due to various reasons, larger seats like Fenner contain more than double the electors of smaller seats like Lingiari.

Divisions are divided into four classes according to population and demographic: inner metropolitan (well-established portions of a state capital city), outer metropolitan (more recently developed portions of a state capital), provincial (divisions made up predominantly of regional cities) and rural.[2]

Naming[edit]

The Divisions of the House of Representatives are unusual in that many of them are not named after geographical features or numbered, as is the case in most other legislatures around the world. Most Divisions are named in honour of prominent historical people, such as former politicians (often Prime Ministers), explorers, artists and engineers.

In some cases where a Division is named after a geographical locality, the connection to that locality is sometimes tenuous. For instance, the Division of Werriwa, created in 1901, was named after the Aboriginal word for Lake George in the Canberra region. However, Werriwa has not contained Lake George for many decades, and has steadily moved some 200 km north to the south-western suburbs of Sydney over the past century.

The redistribution, creation and abolition of Divisions is the responsibility of the Australian Electoral Commission. Some of the criteria the AEC use when naming new Divisions are:[3]

  • divisions are named after deceased Australians who have rendered outstanding service to their country, with consideration given to former Prime Ministers
  • the original names of Divisions proclaimed at Federation in 1901 are to be retained
  • geographical place names are to be avoided
  • Aboriginal names can be used as appropriate
  • names that duplicate names of state electoral districts are not to be used.

List of Divisions in 2016[edit]

The maps below show the Division boundaries as they existed at the Australian federal election, 2016.

New South Wales[edit]

Electoral divisions: Sydney area
Electoral divisions: Outside Sydney area
Electoral divisions: Rest of New South Wales

There are 47 Divisions in New South Wales:

Due to changing demographics, New South Wales will lose one seat in the House of Representatives as of the 2016 federal election. The redistribution will involve extensive changes to existing boundaries, with approximately 20% of voters in New South Wales being moved into a new electorate. The AEC's initial proposal called for the Division of Hunter to be abolished, with its voters absorbed into the neighbouring electorates of Charlton, New England, and Paterson. Due to the AEC's practice of giving preference to the names of the so-called 'Federation divisions', those contested at the first federal election in 1901, Charlton was to have been renamed Hunter.[4]

Further, the Division of Throsby will be renamed Whitlam, after former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, part of another AEC practice of honouring deceased Prime Ministers with electoral divisions.[5]

The final map, however, saw Charlton abolished, with Hunter moving eastward to absorb most of Charlton's territory. The name change from Throsby to Whitlam remained in effect.[6]

Victoria[edit]

Electoral divisions: Melbourne area
Electoral divisions: Outside Melbourne area
Electoral divisions: Rest of Victoria

There are 37 Divisions in Victoria:

Queensland[edit]

Electoral divisions: Brisbane area
Electoral divisions: Outside Brisbane area
Electoral divisions: Rest of Queensland

There are 30 Divisions in Queensland:

Western Australia[edit]

Electoral divisions: Inner Perth area
Electoral divisions: Outer Perth area
Electoral divisions: Rest of Western Australia

There are 16 Divisions in Western Australia:

Due to Western Australia's growing population, the state has gained a 16th seat before the 2016 federal election.[7] The Australian Electoral Commission has named the seat Burt after one of Western Australia's most prominent legal families, and three members thereof in particular:

Burt is located in the south-eastern suburbs of Perth, and has been created out of portions of the neighbouring divisions of Canning, Hasluck and Tangney, and a small portion of Swan.[9]

Based on the results of the 2013 federal election, the new electorate of Burt is notionally a Liberal seat, with a TPP margin of 5.2 percent.[10]

South Australia[edit]

Electoral divisions: Adelaide area
Electoral divisions: Rest of South Australia

There are 11 Divisions in South Australia:

Tasmania[edit]

Electoral divisions: Tasmania

There are 5 Divisions in Tasmania:

The Territories[edit]

Electoral divisions: Australian Capital Territory
Electoral divisions: Northern Territory

Australian Capital Territory

There are 2 Divisions in the ACT:

From 1 July 2016, the Division of Canberra also includes voters from Norfolk Island.[11]

Prior to the 2016 federal election, the Division of Fenner was known as the Division of Fraser. The new name honours the Australian virologist Frank Fenner (1914–2010),[12] and the change was due to plans by the Australian Electoral Commission to name a Victorian electorate after former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser when that state next undergoes an electoral redistribution.[13]

Northern Territory

There are 2 Divisions in the Northern Territory:

Abolished Divisions[edit]

These Australian Divisions no longer exist:

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]