Redistributions – Frequently Asked Questions

Updated: 21 October 2019

The name of a federal electoral division can only be changed as part of a federal redistribution in the relevant state or territory. Interested persons or organisations are able to propose alternative names for existing electoral divisions at specific points in the redistribution process.

A Redistribution Committee is appointed for the state or territory in which a redistribution of federal electoral divisions has commenced.  The Redistribution Committee is responsible for considering inputs from interested individuals and organisations and developing a proposed redistribution of the state or territory.

An augmented Electoral Commission is also established to consider any objections to the Redistribution Committee’s proposals and make the final determination of the names and boundaries of electoral divisions in the state or territory.

A Redistribution Committee develops a proposal for dividing a state or territory into a number of electoral divisions equal to its entitlement in the House of Representatives. In developing its proposal, the Redistribution Committee must remain within the numerical quotas for the current and projected enrolment. The Redistribution Committee shall also give due consideration to:

  • community interests within the proposed electoral division, including economic, social and regional interests
  • means of communication and travel within the proposed electoral division
  • physical features and area of the proposed electoral division, and
  • existing boundaries of divisions in the state or territory.
When determining the final boundaries of electoral divisions in a state or territory, the augmented Electoral Commission must also remain within the same numerical quotas for the current and projected enrolment and give due consideration to the same factors.

The boundaries of electoral divisions  are drawn so that, as far as practicable, three and a half years after the redistribution has been completed, the projected enrolment in each electoral division should not vary from the projected state or territory average by more than 3.5 per cent. This is also known as the 'projection time'.

Note: The Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 provides separate provisions for the projection time if another redistribution is expected sooner than seven years.

No, a federal redistribution is a separate exercise to a state or territory redistribution. The two processes are not related as they are governed by different legislation and timeframes.

For the purpose of electing members to the House of Representatives, new and/or changed electoral divisions do not come into effect until the next federal election.

The enrolment of new electors and changes to existing enrolments are implemented immediately following the determination of the new electoral divisions.

Note: If a by-election is held prior to the next federal election, the by-election will be conducted on the existing electoral divisions not the redistributed electoral divisions.

If the writ for a House of Representatives election is issued before the completion of a redistribution and there is no change to the number of electoral divisions for the state or territory, the election would be contested on the current electoral boundaries. The work of the Redistribution Committee and augmented Electoral Commission would continue irrespective of the election.

However, if the writ for a House of Representatives election was issued before the completion of a redistribution which was occurring due to a change in the number of members for a state or territory, a mini-redistribution would be required (section 76 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918).

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