Next Australian federal election
All 151 seats in the House of Representatives
76 seats are needed for a majority
40 (of the 76) seats in the Senate
The next Australian federal election will be held on or before 21 May 2022 to elect members of the 47th Parliament of Australia.
All 151 seats in the lower house, the House of Representatives, and 40 or 76 (depending on whether a double dissolution is called) of the 76 seats in the upper house, the Senate, will be up for election.
At the previous election in May 2019, the incumbent Liberal/National Coalition Government, led by Scott Morrison, defeated the opposition Labor Party. The Coalition won 77 seats in the House of Representatives, enough for a two-seat majority, whilst Labor claimed 68 seats and remained in opposition. A further six seats were won by minor parties and independents who sat on the crossbench; one each to the Greens, Centre Alliance, Katter's Australian Party and the remaining three by independents. In the Senate, the Coalition made modest gains in most states and increased their share of seats to 35 overall, whilst Labor remained steady on 26, the Greens likewise on 9, One Nation and Centre Alliance down to 2 each, and Jacquie Lambie and Cory Bernardi's minor parties with 1 seat each. This meant the Coalition required four additional votes to pass legislation.
Composition of parliament
The 46th Parliament was inaugurated on 2 July 2019. By this time the Labor Party had elected a new leader, replacing the outgoing Bill Shorten with Anthony Albanese. Though there were several resignations and departures from members of the House and Senate, few of these changes altered the numbers on the floors of either chamber. Cory Bernardi's resignation in January 2020 allowed the Coalition to replace him with a Liberal member, increasing their share of seats in the Senate to 36. In the House of Representatives, two Coalition MPs (Llew O'Brien and Darren Chester) departed their respective party-room caucuses, though retained their membership of the Morrison Government. The government's share of seats in the House did drop however, when Craig Kelly, the member for Hughes, left the Liberal Party in August 2021 to become an independent and sit on the crossbench. This left the government with a one-seat majority (76 out of 151), though considering the position of the Speaker (who is obliged not to vote to create a majority where none is present), the government functioned from this point to the election in technical-minority status. There were two by-elections in the life of the parliament, both in 2020 in the seats of Eden-Monaro and Groom, though in both instances the by-elections were won by the incumbent party.
The Australian Electoral Commission is required, one year after the first sitting day for a new House of Representatives, to determine the number of members to which each State and Territory is entitled. If the number in any state changes, a redistribution will be required in those states. A redistribution will be postponed if it would begin within one year of the expiration of the House of Representatives.
Demographic statistics for December 2019 released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on 18 June 2020 were used to calculate the determination. The population counts confirmed that the number of seats in the House of Representatives was to return to 150, with Victoria gaining a seat (39) and Western Australia (15) and the Northern Territory (1) losing a seat each.
|June 2020 determination (set aside)|
|New South Wales||47|
|Australian Capital Territory||3|
The abolition of the Northern Territory's second seat in the determination was controversial. Labor Party Senators Malarndirri McCarthy and Don Farrell put forward a private senator's bill which would guarantee the Northern Territory a minimum two seats in the House of Representatives, with the bill referred to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters. In July 2020, election analyst Antony Green proposed to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters that the "harmonic mean method" be used to calculate the electoral representation entitlements for the territories. Green also blogged on the history of representation and its applications to states and territories in light of the 2020 redistribution and his advocacy proved persuasive. In October 2020, deputy prime minister Michael McCormack gave an assurance that the government and opposition would combine to overrule the AEC and maintain the Northern Territory's level of representation. The mechanism by which this would be used to achieved was unclear, however, with Senator Mathias Cormann stating that a two seat minimum for the territories would be legislated. Mandating a minimum number of seats for the Northern Territory but not the Australian Capital Territory was seen as potentially inequitable, though the ACT's level of representation was not under threat. A 2003 report had also recommended against adopting mandatory minimum entitlements to seats in the House of Representatives for either of the territories.
Ultimately, the Joint Standing Committee recommended "enacting a harmonic mean for allocating seats between States and Territories, with appropriate public explanation to build understanding for the reform." The Parliament passed the Electoral Amendment (Territory Representation) Act on 9 December 2020, amending the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 to utilise the harmonic mean method for determining representative entitlements for territories relative to states. Consequently, the Northern Territory will retain two seats in the House of Representatives at the next election, an outcome achieved without legislating any mandatory minimum level of representation.
|December 2020 determination|
|New South Wales||47|
|Australian Capital Territory||3|
In March 2021, the AEC published its proposal for this redistribution, involving the abolition of the Division of Stirling in Western Australia, the creation of the new Division of Hawke in Victoria (named for former Prime Minister Bob Hawke), and the renaming of the existing Division of Corangamite to the Division of Tucker (in honour of Margaret Tucker, "a Yorta Yorta woman, for her significant work to create a more equal and understanding society for Aboriginal people"). When the AEC published its final determinations in June 2021, the abolition of Stirling and creation of Hawke were confirmed, but Corangamite would not be renamed to Tucker.
Enrolment of eligible voters is compulsory. Voters must notify the AEC within 8 weeks of a change of address or after turning 18. The electoral rolls are closed for new enrolments or update of details about a week after the issue of writs for election.
Enrolment is optional for 16- or 17-year-olds, but they cannot vote until they turn 18, and persons who have applied for Australian citizenship may also apply for provisional enrolment which takes effect on the granting of citizenship.
|Election type||Latest Saturday|
|Representatives only||3 September 2022|
|Half-senate only||21 May 2022|
|Representatives + half-senate||21 May 2022|
|5 March 2022|
Though federal elections must be conducted on a Saturday, the date and type of federal election is determined by the Prime Minister – after a consideration of constitutional requirements, legal requirements, as well as political considerations – who advises the Governor-General to set the process in motion by dissolving the lower or both houses and issuing writs for election. The Constitution of Australia does not require simultaneous elections for the Senate and the House of Representatives, though simultaneous elections are held if an election for the House is called and a Senate half-election is due. When Prime Minister Robert Menzies called the November 1963 election, only the seats in the House of Representatives were vacated as it was too early to hold a half-senate election. Separate House of Representatives and Senate elections were then held until the electoral timetables were brought together again at the May 1974 election. According to the Parliament of Australia's website, the "conventional wisdom now is that separate Senate elections result in poor Senate results for governments and should be avoided if governments wish not to have unfriendly Senates." The most recent House-only election took place in 1972, and the most recent Senate-only election took place in 1970. Simultaneous elections are required in the case of a double dissolution election that is called under section 57 of the Australian Constitution when the Senate twice refuses to pass legislation sent to it by the House of Representatives. This happened most recently in 2016 when then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull utilised three double dissolution triggers to call an election for the full Senate as well as for the House of Representatives. However, the existence of a double dissolution trigger does not mandate that the Prime Minister must advise that an election be called.
An election for the House of Representatives can be called at any time before the expiration of the three-year term of the House of Representatives or up to ten days thereafter. The term of the House of Representatives started on the first sitting day of the House following its election, which in the case of the 46th Parliament was 2 July 2019. This meant that the term of the House of Representatives will expire on 1 July 2022 and a House of Representatives election must be called by 11 July 2022. The Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (CEA) sets certain requirements. Up to 27 days must be allowed for nominations, and the actual election can be set for a maximum of 31 days after close of nominations. This will result in the latest election date for the House of Representatives to be before 7 September 2022, with the latest Saturday being 3 September 2022.
The election of senators must take place within one year before the terms expire for half-Senate elections, so that the writs for a half-Senate election cannot be issued earlier than 1 July 2021. Since campaigns are for a minimum of 33 days, the earliest possible date for a simultaneous House/half-Senate election is Saturday, 7 August 2021. The latest that a half-Senate election could be held must allow time for the votes to be counted and the writs to be returned before the newly elected senators take office on 1 July 2022. This took 41 days in 2019, and were returned on the last possible date available given the impending commencement of the new senators. Using this approximate time frame, the last possible date for a half-Senate election to take place is Saturday 21 May 2022.
A double dissolution (a deadlock-breaking provision to dissolve both houses of parliament) cannot take place within six months before the date of the expiry of the House of Representatives. That means that any double dissolution of the 46th Parliament will have to be granted by 1 January 2022. Allowing for the same stages indicated above, the last possible date for a double dissolution election would be 5 March 2022. This can only occur if a bill that passes the House of Representatives is rejected by the Senate twice, at least three months apart.
Constitutional and legal provisions
The constitutional and legal provisions which impact on the choice of election dates include:
- Section 12 of the Constitution says: "The Governor of any State may cause writs to be issued for the election of Senators for that State".
- Section 13 of the Constitution provides that the election of senators shall be held in the period of twelve months before the places become vacant.
- Section 28 of the Constitution says: "Every House of Representatives shall continue for three years from the first sitting of the House, and no longer, but may be sooner dissolved by the Governor-General." Since the 46th Parliament of Australia opened on 2 July 2019, it will expire on 1 July 2022.
- Section 32 of the Constitution says: "The writs shall be issued within ten days from the expiry of a House of Representatives or from the proclamation of a dissolution thereof." Ten days after 1 July 2022 is 11 July 2022.
- Section 156(1) of the CEA says: "The date fixed for the nomination of the candidates shall not be less than 10 days nor more than 27 days after the date of the writ". Twenty-seven days after 11 July 2022 is 7 August 2022.
- Section 157 of the CEA says: "The date fixed for the polling shall not be less than 23 days nor more than 31 days after the date of nomination". Thirty-one days after 7 August 2022 is 7 September 2022, a Wednesday.
- Section 158 of the CEA says: "The day fixed for the polling shall be a Saturday". The Saturday before 7 September 2022 is 3 September 2022. This is therefore the latest possible date for the lower house election.
Other events such as elections and holidays may also be taken into account and influence on when the election will be called:
- The new electoral boundaries for Victoria and Western Australia were to be gazetted on 26 July and 2 August 2021 respectively. To prevent a mini-redistribution for the election, the writs should be issued after the gazette dates.
- Census day (10 August 2021)
- NSW local government elections (4 September 2021) - this has been postponed to 4 December 2021
- WA long weekend (25 September 2021)
- NSW, Queensland, and South Australia long weekend (2 October 2021)
- 2022 South Australian state election (19 March 2022). The South Australian Constitution Act allows the state election to be deferred for three weeks if a federal election is held in March.
- Easter and Anzac Day long weekends throughout April 2022
- Federal budget in early May 2022. The budget will have to brought forward if an election has not been called by March, similar to 2019 when the budget was presented to the House of Representatives in early April.
Candidates for either house must be formally nominated with the Electoral Commission. The nomination for a party-endorsed candidate must be signed by the Registered Officer of a party registered under the Electoral Act. Fifty signatures of eligible voters are required for an independent candidate. A candidate can nominate for only one electorate, and must pass a number of qualifications.
A deposit of $2,000 will be required for a candidate for the House of Representatives or the Senate, which is refunded if the candidate is elected or gains at least 4% of the first preference vote. Between 10 and 27 days must be allowed after the issue of writs before the close of nominations.
Parties and leaders
|2019 result||Current seats|
|Coalition[b]||Liberal Party||Liberal conservatism||Scott Morrison||41.44%||
77 / 151
76 / 151
|National Party||Agrarianism||Barnaby Joyce|
|Australian Labor Party (ALP)||Social democracy||Anthony Albanese||33.34%||
68 / 151
68 / 151
|Australian Greens||Green politics||Adam Bandt||10.40%||
1 / 151
1 / 151
|Katter's Australian Party (KAP)||Conservatism||Bob Katter[c]||0.49%||
1 / 151
1 / 151
|Centre Alliance||Centrism||No leading candidate||0.33%||
1 / 151
1 / 151
|United Australia Party||Right-wing populism||Craig Kelly||3.43%||
0 / 151
1 / 151
3 / 151
3 / 151
Retiring and disendorsed members
The following Members of Parliament (MPs) and Senators are not contesting the upcoming election.
- Nick Champion MP (Spence, SA) – preselected for the seat of Taylor in the 2022 South Australian election on 13 February 2021.
- Joel Fitzgibbon MP (Hunter, NSW) – announced retirement on 12 September 2021
- Chris Hayes MP (Fowler, NSW) – announced retirement on 24 March 2021
- Warren Snowdon MP (Lingiari, NT) – announced retirement on 10 December 2020
- Kevin Andrews MP (Menzies, Vic) – lost preselection on 31 January 2021
- Nicolle Flint MP (Boothby, SA) – announced retirement on 26 February 2021
- Steve Irons MP (Swan, WA) – announced retirement on 24 September 2021
- Andrew Laming MP (Bowman, Qld) – announced retirement on 28 March 2021 (Disendorsed on 12 April 2021 after refusing to withdraw nomination for preselection)
- Tony Smith MP (Casey, Vic) – announced retirement on 14 July 2021
- George Christensen MP (Dawson, Qld) – announced retirement on 22 April 2021
- Ken O'Dowd MP (Flynn, Qld) – announced retirement in November 2020
- Robbie Katter is party leader, but is not contesting the federal election or a member of the Commonwealth parliament. Robbie Katter sits as an MP in the Parliament of Queensland for Traeger.
- The Coalition formally comprises the Liberal Party and National Party. Federal parliamentary members of the Liberal National Party of Queensland and Country Liberal Party (Northern Territory) sit in the party room of either the Liberal or National parties, according to the individual members' preference or internal party arrangements.
- Robbie Katter is party leader, but is not contesting the federal election.
- Andrew Wilkie, Helen Haines, Zali Steggall
- Green, Antony (18 June 2020). "ABS Population Statistics Confirm Changes in House Representation". Antony Green's Election Blog. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
- "Determination of membership entitlement to the House of Representatives" (Media Release). Australian Electoral Commission. 3 July 2020. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- Breen, Jacqueline (3 July 2020). "Calls for Federal Government to save second NT lower house seat axed in redistribution". ABC News. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- Muller, Damon (2 December 2020). "Electoral Amendment (Territory Representation) Bill 2020". Parliamentary Library of Australia, Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 11 December 2020.
- Green, Antony (July 2020). "Fair Representation for the Territories – A Submission to the Joint Standing Committee of Electoral Matters". Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 11 December 2020.
- Green, Antony (8 June 2020). "2020 Apportionment of Seats: Part 1 – Allocating to the States". Antony Green's Election Blog. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- Green, Antony (9 June 2020). "2020 Apportionment of Seats: Part 2 – Allocating to the Territories". Antony Green's Election Blog. Retrieved 11 December 2020.
- Green, Antony (17 June 2020). "2020 Apportionment of Seats: Part 3 – Changing the Formula for States". Antony Green's Election Blog. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- Gooley, Cameron (8 October 2020). "Second Lower House NT seat saved as Labor, Coalition unite to overturn AEC change". ABC News. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- Dingwall, Doug (17 October 2020). "Support for ACT, NT to have two-seat guarantee in lower house". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (November 2003). Report of the Inquiry into increasing the minimum representation of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory in the House of Representatives (PDF). Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- "NT to keep two federal House of Representative seats at next election after legislation passes Parliament". ABC News. 9 December 2020. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- "'A shame job': Bill to safeguard two federal members for the NT a step closer to reality". ABC News. 3 December 2020. Retrieved 9 December 2020.
- Redistribution Committee for Western Australia (March 2021). "Proposed redistribution of Western Australia into electoral divisions" (PDF). Australian Electoral Commission. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- Redistribution Committee for Victoria (March 2021). "Proposed redistribution of Victoria into electoral divisions" (PDF). Australian Electoral Commission. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- "Proposed federal electoral divisions for Victoria released" (Media Release). Australian Electoral Commission. 19 March 2021. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- "Announcement of names and boundaries of federal electoral divisions in Western Australia". Australian Electoral Commission. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
- "Announcement of final boundaries – Victorian federal redistribution". Australian Electoral Commission. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
- Harris, Rob (29 June 2021). "Graffiti fears rule out renaming electorate 'Tucker'". The Age. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
- "Section 155: Date for close of Rolls". Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII). Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- "Enrol to vote". Australian Electoral Commission. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
- Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, s. 99A.
- "Section 158: Polling to be on a Saturday". Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII). Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- Under section 13 of the Australian Constitution, a half-senate election must be held within the year prior to the expiry of those Senators' terms. The Senators elected in the 1958 election began their terms on 1 July 1959 and would serve until 30 June 1965, thus a half-senate election for those positions could not be held prior to 1 July 1964.
- "Elections: Constitutional Complexities and Consequences". About Parliament. Parliament of Australia. 21 September 2007. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- Rodrigues, Mark; Horne, Nicholas; Lawley, Chris (13 May 2010). "Double dissolutions and elections". Double dissolutions: triggers, elections and proposals for reform (PDF). Parliamentary Library of Australia, Department of Parliamentary Services, Parliament of Australia. pp. 9–17. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- "Documents relating to the calling of the Double Dissolution Election for 2 July 2016" (PDF). Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia. 8 May 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 May 2016.
These twelve pages of documents comprise:
1. Letter (3 pages) from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove dated 8 May 2016, Reference MS16-001702, advising a double dissolution election for 2 July 2016, with annotations by the Governor-General
2. Letter (4 pages, and with 3 pages appended providing a timeline of events) from Attorney-General George Brandis to the Governor-General dated 8 May 2016, with annotations by the Governor-General
3. Letter (1 page) from the Governor-General to the Prime Minister dated 8 May 2016, accepting the Prime Minister's advice that a double dissolution election be held on 2 July 2016
4. Proclamation dated 8 May 2016 dissolving both the House of Representatives and the Senate from 9 am on 9 May 2016, in line with section 57 of the Australian Constitution
- Rodrigues, Mark; Horne, Nicholas; Lawley, Chris (13 May 2010). "'Triggers' for double dissolutions". Double dissolutions: triggers, elections and proposals for reform (PDF). Parliamentary Library of Australia, Department of Parliamentary Services, Parliament of Australia. pp. 6–9. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- "Section 28: Duration of House of Representatives". Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900. Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII). Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- "Section 32: Writs for general election". Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900. Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII). Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- "Section 156: Date of nomination". Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII). Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- "Section 157: Date of polling". Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII). Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- "Section 13: Rotation of Senators". Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900. Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII). Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- Lundie, Rob; Schatz, Laura; Muller, Damon (13 January 2020). "'So when is the next election?': Australian elections timetable as at January 2020". Parliamentary Library of Australia, Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- "Section 57: Disagreement between the Houses". Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900. Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII). Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- Lundie, Rob (25 June 2009). "Australian elections timetable". Parliamentary Library of Australia, Parliament of Australia. Archived from the original on 8 January 2011.
- "Section 12: Issue of writs". Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900. Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII). Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- Green, Antony (29 June 2021). "When can the Next Federal Election be Held?". Antony Green's Election Blog.
- The Electoral Legislation Amendment (Modernisation and Other Measures) Act 2019, which came into effect on 1 March 2019.
- "Candidates Handbook – Federal elections and by-elections (Version 8)" (PDF). Australian Electoral Commission. 2 October 2020. p. 6. ISBN 9781921427367. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- Bowe, William (14 February 2021). "Comings and goings". Poll Bludger. Retrieved 14 February 2021.
- "I quit: Fitzgibbon to reignite ALP tensions". The Australian. 12 September 2020. Retrieved 12 September 2021.
- Haydar, Nour (24 March 2021). "Veteran Labor MP Chris Hayes to leave safe seat, backs local lawyer to take his place". ABC News. Retrieved 24 March 2021.
- Coughlan, Matt (10 December 2020). "NT MP Snowdon to depart at next election". Perth Now. Retrieved 10 December 2020.
- Willingham, Richard; Wong, Leanne; Walden, Max (31 January 2021). "Victorian Liberal MP Kevin Andrews loses preselection for seat of Menzies". ABC News. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
- Bourke, Latika (26 February 2021). "Liberal MP Nicolle Flint announces she's quitting federal politics". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
- Garvey, Paul (24 September 2021). "Swan up for grabs as Irons to retire". The Australian. Retrieved 24 September 2021.
- Gooley, Cameron (28 March 2021). "Liberal MP Andrew Laming to quit politics at next election, Josh Frydenberg says". ABC News. Retrieved 28 March 2021.
- "Queensland's Liberal National Party blocks Andrew Laming from recontesting seat". ABC News. 12 April 2021.
- "Queensland LNP disendorses Andrew Laming ahead of next federal election". SBS News. 13 April 2021.
- Crowe, David (14 July 2021). "Speaker Tony Smith to quit Parliament at next election". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 14 July 2021.
- "Queensland MP George Christensen announces he will retire at next federal election". SBS News. 22 April 2021. Retrieved 22 April 2021.
- Bowe, William (16 January 2021). "Kelly's zeroes". Poll Bludger. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
- Green, Antony (2 August 2021). "2022 Federal Electoral Pendulum". Antony Green's Election. Retrieved 3 August 2021.