Submission to the Electoral Districts Boundaries Commission

Previously the Electoral Reform Society of South Australia had made a submission to the Electoral Boundaries Commission arguing that the basis of the current redistribution of electoral boundaries is that the number of electors must not vary from the electoral quota by more than 10%.
There is nothing in the transcript of the proceedings of Commission on 3 December 2019, or in the five submissions to that hearing, that convince the Society to change its stance.

In making an electoral boundaries redistribution, the Commission now has only the narrow list of criteria as set out in section 83 of the Constitution Act 1934 on which to make its deliberations.
If South Australia wants to move towards electoral fairness and ‘one vote, one value’, it needs to abandon using single-member electorates.

After each State election, the Electoral Reform Society of South Australia prepares an analysis of the results. The 2018 analysis A change of Government did not improve elector representation – It’s time to urgently change the way we elect our MPs is included with this submission (Attachment 1) to reinforce that single-member electorates have again failed South Australia and it is now time to consider adopting the quota-preferential method of proportional representation if this State wants to achieve electoral fairness.

As in previous representations to the Electoral Districts Boundaries Commission, the Electoral Reform Society of South Australia suggests that the Commission recommend that the Parliament needs to consider whether single-member electorates should be scrapped.

As Mr Besanko quite rightly argued at the hearing on 3 December, Section 83 of the Constitution Act
1934 authorises the Commission to have regard to any other matter it thinks relevant.
This recommendation is very necessary following the continual failure of recent redistributions.

Submission to EDBC April 2020

ERS SA in 2018/19

The past year has seen a lot of activity. We celebrated 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage, we had one Federal Election and the aftermath of State and Local Government elections. There was also much activity within the Proportional Representation Society. We opened the year with a visit from our National President and progressed over the course of the year to discuss key messages of the Society. With a huge amount of work by National President, Jeremy Lawrence, two national policies were adopted by the Society. These can be found online at:

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Submission to Electoral Districts Boundaries Commission

To the Electoral Districts Boundaries Commissioners

The basis of the forthcoming electoral districts boundaries redistribution is that the number of electors must not vary from the electoral quota by more than 10%.

Under the Constitution Act 1934 this is at a date set earlier than the actual fixed election date.  If the Commission is to be seen as successful, the aim must be to ensure that all electorates are inside the 10% margin on election day.

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Constitutional roundtable on fixed four-year parliamentary terms

The Electoral Reform Society of South Australia supports fixed parliamentary terms.

Since South Australia moved to fixed terms, this has removed the uncertainty of when the next election will be called.  This has meant the government of the day has not been able to take advantages from springing an election when it suited them.  It has resulted in a more level playing field for all political parties and candidates, and indeed for the electors.  Having a fixed date has also allowed the Electoral Commission SA to be better prepared in advance for running each election.

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Review of Aṉangu Pitjatjantjara Yankunytjatjara Electorates for the 2020 General Election

Currently there are 7 electorates within the Aṉangu Pitjatjantjara Yankunytjatjara Lands from which a male and female Member are elected as Members of the APY Executive Board at general elections every three years.

An examination of the 2017 election results shows that this arrangement is not working.

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Submission to Inquiry into the 2019 federal election

This submission concentrates largely on Senate issues.

Senate counting procedures

The previous Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters in its Report on the conduct of the 2016 federal election made as its first recommendation that:

“The Committee recommends that the Australian Government commission a technical report on the most appropriate count and surplus transfer methodology for Senate elections, and

This technical report should consider the need for a progressively reducing quota.”

The Electoral Reform Society of South Australia was very pleased to see this recommendation but as the Report with this recommendation was only tabled on 5 December 2018 there was obviously not time for the Government to action this before this year’s election.

This recommendation now needs to be implemented immediately if there is going to be time to consider the report’s finding and to make any changes before the next federal election.

In our submission on the 2016 federal election, the Society pointed out that “with the introduction of optional preferential voting there need to be changes to accommodate the resultant increase in exhausted votes” and the need to change the calculation of the transfer value. Unfortunately, there has now been a second election with the now-defective method again used.

Now that all Senate ballot papers are scanned as part of the counting process, it should be possible to assess various ways of calculating transfer values. If the Australian Government is not going to immediately implement the first recommendation of the previous Committee, then the new Committee needs to undertake its own report as part of this Inquiry.

Removing the line on the Senate ballot paper

The Society would like to see the line removed so there is no longer above and below the line voting. With optional preferential voting and now no voting tickets, there is no need for continuing above and below the line voting, which only complicates the ballot paper and confuses voters.

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Submission on Reforming Local Government

The Electoral Reform Society of South Australia wishes to provide comment on the third proposed reform area – Efficient and transparent local government representation, and particularly to comment on voting and election procedures.

The Society notes that Reforming Local Government will also incorporate a review of the 2018 local government elections and that this review may consider all aspects of local government elections, for example, voting methods, the voters roll, timing of elections, the role of candidate donations and information provided to voters.

In anticipation of there being a call for public comments as part of the review of the 2018 local government elections, and the Society being invited to make input, our comments to this Reforming Local Government are provided as an overview.

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Federal boundary redistribution – Comments


The Electoral Reform Society of South Australia wishes to object to the naming of one of South Australia’s electorates as ‘Spence.’

The Committee has indicated it is proposed to:

change the name of the Division of Wakefield to ‘Spence’ in honour of Catherine Helen Spence (1825–1910) for her work as an advocate for female suffrage and electoral reform.”


Miss Spence was one of the first advocates for proportional representation in Australia (and indeed the world) and this became her main focus.  She supported the quota-preferential method of proportional representation for all elections (called Hare-Spence in her day).

As proportional representation requires multi-member electorates, to name a single-member electorate after Miss Spence is an insult to both her memory and her life-long cause.

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Use your vote wisely in the Upper House

With the changes in the way that voters can vote for the Legislative Council, the Electoral Reform Society of South Australia is urging South Australians to consider carefully about the way they will vote.

If voting above the line, all voters need to do is vote ‘1’ for the party or group of their choice.  However, they can now give preferences to as many of the other groups as they wish and in the order they themselves choose.

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