Research Report 4 - Australian Federal Redistributions 1901-2003: Introduction

Updated: 30 May 2013


Why have a redistribution?

In Australia redistributions are undertaken to ensure that, as nearly as is practicable, each State and Territory has representation in the House of Representatives in proportion to the State or Territory's population, and that there are, nearly as is practicable, the same number of electors in each electorate for a given State or Territory. If periodic redistributions were not undertaken the relative population of division would differ widely. For example Queensland has had a population growth rate that has seen an additional seat created for every redistribution held in that state since 1992. In the same period Victoria has lost 2 seats, South Australia lost 1 seat, and Western Australia gained 1 seat. In the same period the Australian Capital Territory gained an additional seat, which was abolished 3 years later due to population changes[1].

It is worth noting that states that were original signatories to the Act of Federation (New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, and Tasmania) are guaranteed a minimum of 5 seats regardless of population, which is why Tasmania with a small elector population, currently 333 324 as at December 2003 has 5 seats whereas Victoria with an elector population of 3 255 581 in the same period, has 37 seats. If the average divisional enrolment used in Tasmania were applied to Victoria it would have approximately 50 seats.

1 See Appendix Five for a complete list of all divisions created and abolished as a result of redistributions.