1.2 Reasons for the determination made by the augmented Electoral Commission for South Australia (cont.)
Updated: 7 March 2012
Introduction to the redistribution of South Australia
- The redistribution of federal electoral boundaries in South Australia was conducted in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Electoral Act. The key stages of the process are outlined below.
- South Australia is entitled to 11 members in the House of Representatives.
Direction for a redistribution of South Australia electoral divisions
- Section 59(2) of the Electoral Act provides that a direction to commence a redistribution shall be made if a period of seven years after the day on which the state was last distributed into electoral divisions has expired. The direction must be made within 30 days after the expiration of the seven-year period.
- South Australia was last distributed into electoral divisions on 17 December 2003. Therefore, on 12 January 2011, the Australian Electoral Commission (the Electoral Commission) directed by notice published in the Commonwealth Government Gazette (the Gazette) that a redistribution was to commence in South Australia.
- On 12 January 2011, the number of electors enrolled in South Australia was 1 107 001. Redistribution statistics, which show the detailed electoral enrolment figures as at 12 January 2011, were published on this website. In addition, copies were available at the South Australia State Office of the AEC in Adelaide. The statistics were given at the following levels:
- Census Collection District (CCD)
- Statistical Local Area (SLA)
- Electoral Division
- Under section 65 of the Electoral Act, the Electoral Commissioner determined that the quota of electors for South Australia, as at the commencement of the redistribution, was 100 636 (1 107 001 divided by 11 members). The Redistribution Committee (under section 66(3)) and the augmented Electoral Commission (under section 73(4)) must ensure that the number of electors in each division is within 10 per cent of the quota. Therefore, the permitted range of tolerance, being 10 per cent below and 10 per cent above the quota, is from 90 573 to 110 699. (Table 1)
- In making its proposed redistribution, the Redistribution Committee is required by section 66(3) of the Electoral Act to endeavour to ensure that, as far as practicable, the number of electors enrolled in each electoral division in South Australia would not, at the projection time determined under section 63A, be less than 96.5 per cent or more than 103.5 per cent of the average divisional enrolment of the state at that time. The augmented Electoral Commission, under section 73(4) is constrained by the same obligation.
- The Electoral Commission was of the opinion that, based on the trend of population change as estimated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), a further redistribution of South Australia may be required sooner than seven years after the starting time for the projection (16 December 2011). Therefore, pursuant to section 63A, the Electoral Commission determined the projection time for South Australia to be 21 January 2015, which is half way between the starting time for the projections and the time when in the opinion of the Electoral Commission a further redistribution may be required (February 2018).
- The projected total enrolment for South Australia on 21 January 2015 is 1 152 271, resulting in an average projected enrolment of 104 752. Thus, as far as practicable, the permissible variance is between 101 086 and 108 418 electors. (Table 1)
Appointment of the Redistribution Committee for South Australia
- In accordance with section 60 of the Electoral Act, on 29 April 2011 the Electoral Commission appointed the Redistribution Committee for South Australia. (Appendix B)
The Redistribution Committee comprised the following members:
||Mr Ed Killesteyn
|Australian Electoral Officer for South Australia
||Ms Claire Witham
|Surveyor-General for South Australia
||Mr Kim Nisbet (acting until 10 June 2011)
|Mr Peter Kentish (thereafter)
|Auditor-General of South Australia
||Mr Simon O'Neill
Redistribution Committee's proposed redistribution
- All preconditions having been met, the Redistribution Committee made a proposed redistribution of South Australia under section 66 of the Electoral Act, stating its reasons in writing; caused the notice required by section 68(1)(c) of the Electoral Act to be published in the Gazette on 12 August 2011; and took the other steps required by section 68.
Objections and comments on objections
- Three objections and four comments on objections were received in response to the Redistribution Committee's proposal. These are listed at Appendices C and D of this report, and are provided in full on the enclosed DVD. The objections and comments on objections were also made available on this website.
Augmented Electoral Commission
- Section 70(1) of the Electoral Act establishes for the purposes of a redistribution an augmented Electoral Commission for the relevant state or territory. By virtue of section 70(2), the members of the augmented Electoral Commission for South Australia are the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (Hon Peter Heerey QC); the non-judicial member of the Electoral Commission (Mr Brian Pink, Australian Statistician); and the occupants of the positions previously mentioned who constituted the Redistribution Committee. The members of the augmented Electoral Commission are listed in Appendix B.
- The augmented Electoral Commission conducted a public inquiry into objections in Adelaide on 13 October 2011 where arguments were presented by the Chief Executive Officer of the Barossa Council.
- The transcript of the public inquiry is provided on the enclosed DVD (available on request).
The statutory mandate of the augmented Electoral Commission
- The augmented Electoral Commission must determine, by notice published in the Gazette, the names and boundaries of the electoral divisions into which South Australia is to be distributed. That task must be performed in accordance with the requirements of sections 73(4) and 73(4A) of the Electoral Act, which provide:
73(4) 'In making the determination, the augmented Electoral Commission:
- shall, as far as practicable, endeavour to ensure that the number of electors enrolled in each Electoral Division in the State or Territory will not, at the projection time determined under section 63A, be less than 96.5% or more than 103.5% of the average divisional enrolment of that State or Territory at that time; and
- subject to paragraph (a), shall give due consideration, in relation to each Electoral Division, to:
- community of interests within the Electoral Division, including economic,
social and regional interests;
- means of communication and travel within the Electoral Division;
and subject thereto the quota of electors for the State or Territory shall be the basis for the redistribution, and the augmented Electoral Commission may adopt a margin of allowance, to be used whenever necessary, but in no case shall the quota be departed from to a greater extent than one-tenth more or one-tenth less.'
- the physical features and area of the Electoral Division; and
- the boundaries of existing Divisions in the State or Territory;
73(4A)' When applying subsection (4), the augmented Electoral Commission must treat the matter in subparagraph (4)(b)(v) as subordinate to the matters in subparagraphs (4)(b)(i), (ii) and (iv).'
- These statutory requirements are expressed in an hierarchical order that puts, 'as far as practicable', the need to 'endeavour to ensure' a division will fall within the projected enrolment range first; the considerations of 'community of interests within [a division] including economic, social and regional interests', 'means of communication and travel within [a division]', and 'the physical features and area of [a division]' second; and 'the boundaries of existing divisions' third – while stating that, subject to these matters,
'the quota of electors for the State … shall be the basis for the proposed redistribution' and that 'the augmented Electoral Commission may adopt a margin of allowance' not departing from the quota further than by one-tenth more or less.
- The purpose of section 73(4)(a) is suggested by its history. It has undergone some transformation since the Commonwealth Electoral Legislation Amendment Act 1983 stipulated that boundaries were to be drawn, as far as practicable, to achieve equal numbers of electors in each of a state's electorates three-and-a-half years after a redistribution. By 1984 'it was observed that the three-and-a-half year rule had in some areas forced the adoption, on purely numerical grounds, of boundaries which took little account of perceived community of interest'.1 Therefore, in 1987, the rule was relaxed to permit a measure of tolerance to plus or minus two per cent from average projected enrolment. Subsequently the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters concluded that:
'the numerical criteria do not allow "due consideration", in the words of the Act, to be given to the qualitative factors. Rather, the political parties and others attempting to frame electoral boundaries essentially find themselves engaged in a mathematical modelling exercise. In order to relax the enrolment requirements to that extent necessary to allow a realistic degree of flexibility the Committee recommends … that subsections 66(3)(a) and 73(4)(a) of the Electoral Act be amended, so as to extend the variation from average divisional enrolment allowed three-and-half years after a redistribution from two to 3.5 per cent.'2
- The Joint Standing Committee also, in the same report, refers to its recommended amendment as one that 'would maintain substantial restrictions on malapportionment [and] would allow other legitimate policy objectives to be more effectively met'.
- Section 73(4)(a) follows this recommendation. The terms of the recommendation, and the discussion which preceded it, make clear the purpose of this provision, as it now stands, and how it was intended to interact with the other criteria set out in section 73 (4)(b), to which 'due consideration' must be given. The augmented Electoral Commission has made its redistribution on this basis.