POLITICS

Australian Electoral Commission Announces Lower House Will Have 151 Seats At Next Election

Victoria and the ACT will be entitled to an extra Federal electorate.

31/08/2017 3:45 PM AEST | Updated 31/08/2017 4:59 PM AEST
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There'll have to be room for one more.

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) announced on Thursday there will be a redistribution of Federal electorates around the country, with the total numbers of House of Representatives Members to rise from 150 to 151.

AEC Commissioner Tom Rogers said in a statement that the reshuffle comes as a result of a national population increase that will see both Victoria and the ACT entitled to an extra Federal electorate, whereas South Australia will lose a seat.

He also confirmed the AEC will meet on Friday to begin discussions about the redistribution and that the public will play a part in the drawing up of the boundaries and naming of electoral divisions.

"The figures show the population has increased sufficiently to result in Victoria and the ACT each increasing their entitlement by one seat. At the same time, the entitlement for South Australia will decrease by one seat," he said.

"Redistribution Committees will be appointed and the public will soon be invited to make suggestions and comments on matters affecting the drawing of federal electoral boundaries and the naming of electoral divisions.

An electoral division redistribution occurs to ensure each state and territory in Australia is entitled to a fair and proportionate representation in the House of Representatives based on its total population. It also works to make sure there are a similar number of voters in each electorate.

These reshuffles happen each electoral cycle following an election, one year after the first sitting day for the new House of Representatives MPs, and are based on a complex equation using the total population and number of senators in each state (known as the population quota).

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And this is what we end up with.

So, what does this all actually mean?

In short, the changes could mean a headache for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's government at the next Federal election. Here's why.

With South Australia set to lose a seat, the redistribution could possible mean the amalgamation of Liberal Party MP Christopher Pyne's seat of Sturt with Labor Party MP Tony Zappia's seat of Makin, which are both in parts of Adelaide -- making any new electorate a key election battleground between the two major parties.

While Pyne won his seat at the 2016 Federal election with a 55.89 percent majority and Zappia won his with 59.65 percent of the vote, a Labor Party-majority body of voters could make things more difficult for the Liberal Party when it comes to securing a parliamentary position.

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While the majority of South Australian land is Liberal-powered, it's the Labor-owned Adelaide that could prove a problem for Malcolm Turnbull.

And while that isn't the only electorate option for the South Australia reshuffle, it could also pose a threat to the Coalition's majority in the House of Representatives come the next election.

Further to that, the ACT is a safe Labor Party-held territory -- leaving the rest of the possible problems for the Coalition residing in Victoria. According to the ABC's election analyst Antony Green the state's population growth could see the extension of a Labor Party stronghold.

And when it comes to the crucial numbers needed to form a parliamentary majority, that puts the Coalition at a possible, and risky, 75 seats to Labor's possible 71, up from 69.

In other words, the next election could be very, very close.

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