Redistribution of the Northern Territory into electoral divisions

Updated: 14 February 2017

Chapter 2: The augmented Electoral Commission's redistribution and reasons for the redistribution

This chapter outlines the augmented Electoral Commission's redistribution and the reasons for this redistribution. Also included is the augmented Electoral Commission's approach to formulating the names and boundaries of electoral divisions.

Augmented Electoral Commission's redistribution of the Northern Territory

  1. The augmented Electoral Commission was required to redistribute the Northern Territory into two electoral divisions.
  2. There are two components to the augmented Electoral Commission's redistribution:
    • the names of the two electoral divisions, and
    • where to draw the boundaries between the two electoral divisions in the Northern Territory.
  3. The augmented Electoral Commission decided to adopt the proposal of the Redistribution Committee, as outlined in Proposed redistribution of the Northern Territory into electoral divisions, without change.
  4. The two electoral divisions in the Northern Territory are therefore the Division of Lingiari and the Division of Solomon.
  5. The Division of Lingiari consists of:
    • the Alice Springs Municipality, Barkly Shire, Belyuen Community Council, Central Desert Shire, Coomalie Community Government Council, East Arnhem Shire, Katherine Municipality, Litchfield Municipality, MacDonnell Shire, Roper Gulf Shire, Victoria Daly Shire, Wagait Shire, West Arnhem Shire and West Daly Region,
    • the towns of Alyangula, Nhulunbuy and Yulara,
    • the unincorporated areas north and east of Litchfield Municipality, south-east of Coomalie Shire, and west of Litchfield and Palmerston Municipality,
    • part of the Palmerston Municipality, specifically the suburbs of Farrar, Johnston, Mitchell, Yarrawonga and Zuccoli,
    • Tiwi Islands,
    • Groote Eylandt,
    • the Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands, and
    • the Territory of Christmas Island.
  6. The Division of Solomon consists of:
    • the Darwin Municipality,
    • the Palmerston Municipality, with the exception of the suburbs of Farrar, Johnston, Mitchell, Yarrawonga and Zuccoli, and
    • the unincorporated areas of the Darwin Rates Act Area and East Arm.

Augmented Electoral Commission's approach to naming electoral divisions

  1. The naming of federal electoral divisions has been the subject of a number of recommendations from parliamentary committees. The 'Guidelines for naming federal electoral divisions' (the guidelines) were developed by the AEC from recommendations made by the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters in 1995 in its Report on the Effectiveness and Appropriateness of the Redistribution Provisions of Parts III and IV of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. The guidelines were offered to interested persons when this redistribution was advertised, and are publicly available on the AEC website (see Appendix J).
  2. The Redistribution Committee proposed retaining the names of the Division of Lingiari and the Division of Solomon.14
  3. One objection to the proposed redistribution supported retaining both names.15
  4. In the absence of arguments in support of altering the names of the two electoral divisions, the augmented Electoral Commission concluded the Redistribution Committee's proposal should be adopted. The electoral divisions will continue to be known as the Division of Lingiari and the Division of Solomon.

Augmented Electoral Commission's approach to formulating electoral boundaries

  1. In deciding whether to amend the Redistribution Committee's proposal to incorporate a concept submitted in an objection, comment on objection or submission to the inquiry, the augmented Electoral Commission was mindful whether the suggested amendment would improve the Redistribution Committee’s proposal. As the augmented Electoral Commission's formulation of electoral divisions must conform to the requirements of the Electoral Act, potential amendments were also analysed with respect to the requirements of sub-section 73(4) of the Electoral Act.
  2. The primary requirement was to ensure each electoral division remains within the permissible maximum and minimum number of electors around the projected enrolment quota (see Table B) and the current enrolment quota (see Table A). In modifying the boundaries of either electoral division proposed by the Redistribution Committee, the augmented Electoral Commission was therefore required to ensure that both electoral divisions continued to fall within the permissible ranges for the maximum and minimum number of electors in an electoral division.
  3. Similarly, when considering adjusting the boundary of an electoral division to better reflect one community of interest, the augmented Electoral Commission observed that such an adjustment could prompt concerns about one or more different communities of interest.

Adjusting the boundaries of existing electoral divisions

  1. In constructing their proposal, the Redistribution Committee considered it would result in electoral divisions which:
    • could accommodate growth in the Northern Territory,
    • kept existing community of interests, as represented by local government areas, together where possible,
    • used strong and readily identifiable features, such as major roads, as boundaries, where possible,
    • minimised the movement of electors between the two electoral divisions, where possible, and
    • was consistent with suggestions and comments made by interested individuals to the redistribution process.16
  2. The Redistribution Committee made changes to the boundaries of both electoral divisions.17
  3. The augmented Electoral Commission considered the Redistribution Committee's proposal and agreed with its proposals.
  4. Where an alternative to the Redistribution Committee’s proposal was advocated, the augmented Electoral Commission considered whether modifications should be made to address the alternative. The following paragraphs, together with Appendix E, outline the augmented Electoral Commission's decision with respect to the alternatives offered.

The electoral division in which the Wagait Shire is located

  1. The Redistribution Committee proposed locating the Wagait Shire in the proposed Division of Lingiari.18
  2. One objection was received advocating the Wagait Shire should be located in the proposed Division of Solomon on the basis of community of interest and transport links.19
  3. The augmented Electoral Commission noted the one submission made in this objection. However, adoption of this idea would create an electoral division which is non-contiguous. While there are several electoral divisions which are non-contiguous, including the Division of Lingiari, these electoral divisions are linked by bridges or incorporate islands. The augmented Electoral Commission therefore considered that the suggested concept, namely altering the proposed boundary to incorporate the Wagait Shire into the Division of Solomon, was not sufficiently persuasive.
  4. The augmented Electoral Commission concluded the Redistribution Committee's proposal should stand unchanged and Wagait Shire should be located in the Division of Lingiari.
  5. The augmented Electoral Commission observed there is potential for future population growth in the area in and surrounding the Wagait Shire and notes that, should this occur, the electoral division in which the Wagait Shire is located could change in the future.

The Redistribution Committee's proposal should be adopted without alteration

  1. The Redistribution Committee proposed altering the boundary between the two divisions such that:
    • the entirety of the Litchfield Municipality is located in the proposed Division of Lingiari, requiring the transfer of the suburbs of Holtze, Knuckey Lagoon, Micket Creek and part of Shoal Bay from the Division of Solomon to the proposed Division of Lingiari, and
    • parts of the Palmerston Municipality are located in the proposed Division of Lingiari, requiring the transfer of the suburbs of Farrar, Johnston, Mitchell, Zuccoli and part of Yarrawonga from the Division of Solomon to the proposed Division of Lingiari.20
  2. Two objections supported the Redistribution Committee's proposed redistribution.21 One objection observed that the boundary proposed by the Redistribution Committee is simple, strong and logical.
  3. The augmented Electoral Commission noted the support expressed for the Redistribution Committee's proposal.
  4. The augmented Electoral Commission therefore concluded that the Redistribution Committee's proposal was sound and should stand unchanged.

The electoral divisions should remain unchanged

  1. In its report, the Redistribution Committee noted it was necessary to alter the divisional boundaries as neither electoral division fell within the range for the permissible maximum and minimum number of projected electors as at Friday 7 August 2020. Accordingly, the Redistribution Committee was obligated to alter the existing divisional boundaries until this requirement could be met.22
  2. One objection advocated that the Redistribution Committee's proposal should not be adopted and instead the boundary between the two electoral divisions should be left unchanged.23
  3. The augmented Electoral Commission noted:
    • the primary factor for consideration in determining electoral divisions is to ensure the two numerical requirements of the Electoral Act would be met,
    • the electoral divisions as they existed at the commencement of the redistribution only met one of the two numerical requirements, and
    • leaving the electoral divisions unaltered would not meet the requirements of the Electoral Act.
  4. The augmented Electoral Commission therefore concluded the Redistribution Committee's proposal was sound and there was not a need for any further alterations to be made to the Redistribution Committee's proposed boundary between the two electoral divisions.

The electoral division in which the suburbs of Farrar, Johnston, Mitchell, Zuccoli and Yarrawonga are located

  1. The Redistribution Committee proposed that parts of the Palmerston Municipality be located in the proposed Division of Lingiari, requiring the transfer of the suburbs of Farrar, Johnston, Mitchell, Zuccoli and part of Yarrawonga from the Division of Solomon to the proposed Division of Lingiari.24
  2. Two objections supported the Redistribution Committee's proposal.25 One objection advocated that these suburbs, due to a shared community of interest, should be retained with the remainder of the Palmerston Municipality in the proposed Division of Solomon.26
  3. The augmented Electoral Commission noted:
    • the primary factor for consideration in determining electoral divisions is to ensure the two numerical requirements of the Electoral Act would be met, and
    • retaining Palmerston Municipality in its entirety in the proposed Division of Solomon would not enable these two numerical requirements to be met.
  4. The augmented Electoral Commission therefore concluded the Redistribution Committee's proposal should stand unchanged and the suburbs of Farrar, Johnston, Mitchell, Zuccoli and Yarrawonga should be located in the Division of Lingiari.

The electoral division in which the Litchfield Municipality is located

  1. The Redistribution Committee proposed the entirety of the Litchfield Municipality be located in the proposed Division of Lingiari, requiring the transfer of the suburbs of Holtze, Knuckey Lagoon, Micket Creek and part of Shoal Bay from the Division of Solomon to the proposed Division of Lingiari.27
  2. Three of the objections received supported the Redistribution Committee's proposed location of the Litchfield Municipality.28 However, while two objections supported the Redistribution Committee’s proposal in its entirety, one objection advocated that only the portion of the Litchfield Municipality located in the Division of Solomon should be transferred to the Division of Lingiari.
  3. The augmented Electoral Commission noted:
    • the primary factor for consideration in determining electoral divisions is to ensure the two numerical requirements of the Electoral Act would be met, and
    • moving only the Litchfield Municipality would not enable these two numerical requirements to be met.
  4. The augmented Electoral Commission therefore concluded the Redistribution Committee's proposal should stand unchanged and Litchfield Municipality should be located in the Division of Lingiari.

The alignment of federal electoral division boundaries with territory electoral division boundaries, suburb boundaries and statistical area boundaries

  1. In constructing the boundaries of proposed electoral divisions, the Redistribution Committee sought to:
    • avoid splitting Statistical Area 1s (SA1s)29, where possible,
    • follow cadastral boundaries,30 where possible, and
    • keep to administrative boundaries, where possible.31
  2. One objection observed that the boundaries selected by the Redistribution Committee were not always readily observable as suburb and statistical areas are not always clearly defined.32
  3. The augmented Electoral Commission noted that the boundary proposed is likely to become a major road in the future as the suburbs of Zuccoli and Mitchell expand into the area south of Lambrick Avenue. Accordingly, the alternative proposed would not result in an improved outcome.
  4. One objection argued that regard should be given to the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly divisional boundaries in order to ensure that Legislative Assembly divisions are not split across multiple federal electoral divisions.33
  5. The augmented Electoral Commission notes that Legislative Assembly divisions can be used to identify communities of interests. However, under the Electoral Act community of interests within electoral divisions is subject to the numerical requirements being met. Ensuring that federal electoral divisions adhere to Legislative Assembly divisional boundaries would result in federal electoral divisions which would be outside the numerical requirements of the Electoral Act.
  6. The augmented Electoral Commission therefore concluded that the boundaries proposed by the Redistribution Committee should not be altered and the Redistribution Committee's proposal should stand unchanged.

Enrolment projections

  1. For the purposes of this redistribution, projected enrolment as at Friday 7 August 2020 was calculated by the ABS.34 Three papers explaining the calculations to derive these projections were made available on the AEC website in February 2016.35
  2. One objection submitted that, at the time the redistribution commenced on Thursday 15 October 2015, the Division of Lingiari was experiencing levels of under-enrolment, with consequential impact on the derivation of the enrolment projections. This objection further advocated that the augmented Electoral Commission should alter the enrolment projections.36
  3. The augmented Electoral Commission noted that the electoral roll is continuously updated. The electoral roll is constantly increasing and decreasing as electors enrol or re-enrol and are added to the electoral roll, move between electoral divisions or are removed from the electoral roll. Further, it was noted that these effects are more readily seen when looking at the monthly enrolment figures,37 which also show that while the level of enrolment increases prior to an electoral event, it may also decrease in the months following an electoral event. The augmented Electoral Commission considered the arguments offered in support of altering the enrolment projections were not sufficient to warrant change.
  4. The augmented Electoral Commission concluded the enrolment projections are sound and should stand unchanged.

Movement of electors between electoral divisions

  1. The Redistribution Committee noted that, as the electoral divisions in existence at the start of the redistribution did not satisfy the range permitted by the Electoral Act for the maximum and minimum number of projected electors in an electoral division at the projection time, it was necessary to alter the boundary between the two electoral divisions until both of the ranges permitted by the Electoral Act for the maximum and minimum number of electors in an electoral division were met.38
  2. The augmented Electoral Commission was also obligated to place the boundary between the two electoral divisions such that the two ranges permitted by the Electoral Act would be met.
  3. As the augmented Electoral Commission adopted the Redistribution Committee’s proposal without amendment, the extent of elector movements between electoral divisions is unchanged from that proposed by the Redistribution Committee.39
  4. Table E outlines the extent of elector movements resulting from the augmented Electoral Commission’s redistribution.
Table E: Summary of movement of electors between electoral divisions
  Number Percentage
Electors remaining in their electoral division 126 891 97.93%
Electors transferred to another electoral division 2 680 2.07%
Total 129 571 100.00%
  1. In making this redistribution, the augmented Electoral Commission notes that section 56A of the Electoral Act requires the Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands and the Territory of Christmas Island to be included in the same electoral division of the Northern Territory.
  2. The augmented Electoral Commission decided to retain the Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands and the Territory of Christmas Island in the Division of Lingiari.

Redistribution of the Northern Territory – by electoral division

  1. For each of the electoral divisions in the Northern Territory, Table F presents:
    • initial enrolment based on enrolment figures as at Thursday 15 October 2015,
    • percentage variation from the current enrolment quota,
    • projected enrolment as at Friday 7 August 2020,
    • percentage variation from the projected enrolment quota, and
    • the approximate area of each electoral division.
Table F: Summary of electoral divisions
Electoral division Enrolment as at Thursday 15 October 2015 Projected enrolment as at Friday 7 August 2020 Approximate area
Number Percentage variation from the current enrolment quota Number Percentage variation from the projected enrolment quota
Lingiari 64 552 -0.36% 69 914 -1.09% 1 348 157.94 km2
Solomon 65 019 0.36% 71 462 1.09% 190.61 km2
Total 129 571   141 76    
  1. Numerical summaries of the electoral divisions are provided in Appendix K.

Footnotes

  1. Redistribution Committee for the Northern Territory, op. cit., page 20
  2. OB4 – Australian Labor Party NT Branch referred to the names of both electoral divisions in the Northern Territory.
  3. Redistribution Committee for the Northern Territory, op. cit., page 6
  4. ibid., page 21
  5. ibid., page 5
  6. OB1 – Lorraine Gardner advocated this change. COB1 – Darren McSweeney referred to this matter. I1 – Lorraine Gardner and I2 – Jeff Waddell referred to this matter.
  7. Redistribution Committee for the Northern Territory, op. cit., page 5
  8. Objections which referred to this matter: OB2 – Jeff Waddell and OB3 – Darren McSweeney. COB1 – Darren McSweeney also referred to this matter.
  9. Redistribution Committee for the Northern Territory, op. cit., page 19
  10. OB4 – Australian Labor Party NT Branch advocated this issue. COB1 – Darren McSweeney also referred to this matter.
  11. Redistribution Committee for the Northern Territory, op. cit., page 5
  12. Objections which referred to this matter: OB2 – Jeff Waddell and OB3 – Darren McSweeney. COB1 – Darren McSweeney also referred to this matter.
  13. OB4 – Australian Labor Party NT Branch referred to this matter.
  14. Redistribution Committee for the Northern Territory, op. cit., page 5
  15. Objections which referred to this matter: OB2 – Jeff Waddell, OB3 – Darren McSweeney and OB4 – Australian Labor Party NT Branch. I2 – Jeff Waddell referred to this matter.
  16. See Appendix G for a discussion of how the AEC uses SA1s. SA1s are the smallest unit at which ABS makes available disaggregated Census data. At the time of the 2011 Census, there were 54 805 SA1s with populations in the range of 200 – 800. SA1s, which are part of the Australian Statistical Geography Standard, are defined by the ABS and remain stable between censuses. The SA1s used for this redistribution were defined for the 2011 Census.
  17. Cadastral boundaries are the boundaries of private and public properties and land parcels, including Crown land.
  18. Redistribution Committee for the Northern Territory, op. cit., page 26
  19. The matter was referred to by OB3 – Darren McSweeney.
  20. The matter was referred to by OB4 – Australian Labor Party NT Branch. COB1 – Darren McSweeney and I2 – Jeff Waddell also referred to this matter.
  21. Redistribution Committee for the Northern Territory, op. cit., page 11
  22. These papers are available at: http://www.aec.gov.au/Electorates/Redistributions/2015/nt/enrolment-projections.htm
  23. The matter was referred to by OB4 – Australian Labor Party NT Branch. COB1 – Darren McSweeney also referred to this matter.
  24. Sub-section 58(1) of the Electoral Act requires the Electoral Commissioner to ascertain the number of electors enrolled in each electoral division in each state and the Australian Capital Territory as at the close of a day in the month and to publish a statement in the Gazette presenting these numbers. Monthly enrolment is also published on the AEC website at: http://www.aec.gov.au/Enrolling_to_vote/Enrolment_stats/gazetted/index.htm
  25. Redistribution Committee for the Northern Territory, op. cit., page 18–19
  26. ibid., page 27
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