Darwinian selection

Labor moves to save the Northern Territory’s second House of Representatives seat ahead of next month’s determination of state and territory seat entitlements.

The post below this one features Adrian Beaumont’s latest updates on the polling situation in the United States, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Back on home turf, I have two updates to relate.

The first involves the calculation of the states’ and territories’ House of Representatives seat entitlements for the next parliament, which will be determined next month on the basis of yet-to-be published quarterly population figures from December. Barring a sudden change in population trends in the last quarter of last year, this will cause Victoria to gain a seat for the second term in a row, boosting it to 39 seats — a return to where it was when the parliament was enlarged in 1984, before a lean period for the state reduced it to 37 in 1996. It is even more clear that Western Australia will lose the sixteenth seat it has had for the past two terms, reflecting the waxing and waning of the mining and resources boom.

Relatedly — and to get to my main point — the Northern Territory is also set to lose a seat, unless something comes of Labor Senator Malarndirri McCarthy’s announcement last week that she will introduce a bill to guarantee the territory its existing two seats. The territory just scraped over the line with 1.502 population quotas at the last determination in 2017, rounding up to an entitlement of two seats, and has since experienced a continuation of relative decline since the resource boom halcyon days of 2009 — and even then its population only amounted to 1.54 quotas.

The Northern Territory was first divided into its current two seats of Solomon and Lingiari in 2001, but its claim to a second seat has been consistently precarious. It would have reverted to one seat in 2004 if not for a legislative fix to change definitions in a way that put it over the threshold, which received bipartisan support partly because both major parties imagined at that time that they could win both seats. This proved a forlorn hope in the Coalition’s case, with Lingiari having remained with Labor at all times and Solomon having fallen their way in both 2016 and 2019.

As a result, Solomon and Lingiari have consistently had the lowest enrolments in the country, at a shade below 70,000 at the time of the 2019 federal election, compared with an average of 110,755 in the mainland states, 98,644 in the Australian Capital Territory (which gained a third seat last year) and 77,215 in Tasmania (which maintains the constitutionally mandated minimum of five seats for the six original states). Conversely, a single Northern Territory seat would have an enrolment far greater than any other, with the unfortunate effect of under-representing its indigenous population, which accounts for more than a quarter of the total.

My other update relates to the July 4 Eden-Monaro by-election, for which nominations close on Tuesday. The Daily Telegraph ($) reports four candidates have nominated for the Nationals’ Eden-Monaro preselection, to be held on Sunday: Trevor Hicks, deputy mayor of Queanbeyan-Palerang; Fleur Flanery, owner of Australian Landscape Conference; Mareeta Grundy, a dietician; and Michael Green, a farmer from Nimmitabel. The Greens announced on the weekend that their candidate will be Cathy Griff, a Bega Valley Shire councillor.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

1,310 comments on “Darwinian selection”

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  1. ”The asteroid, about 335 metres in diameter, is expected to miss our planet by about 5.15 million kilometres.“


    The headline is a misleading “A stadium-sized asteroid is heading straight towards us this weekend“.

    From a tabloid TV news site, the above quote is a few paragraphs into the article after a generic video about asteroid impacts.

    Were an asteroid of this size were to hit land, it would be equivalent to a massive volcanic explosion.

  2. “ On Sunday, NSW Police Acting Commissioner Mal Lanyon told reporters he stood by the force’s use of pepper spray and alleged that protesters were “inciting police”.”

    Cop speak for ‘they were getting lippy’.

  3. One for meher baba

    Police investigate alleged assault of Aboriginal girl, 4, wrongly accused of stealing from Big W

    Mr Donovan said his three daughters were all wearing new clothes at the time, which were recent gifts from their grandparents.

    Aboriginal people ‘often racially profiled’ in shopping centres

    Adnyamathanha elder and Port Augusta local Vince Coulthard said Aboriginal people are frequently the target of racial profiling in shopping centres.

    “You walk about the supermarkets here, and you’ll see some Aboriginal kids come in and they’ll be watched — they’ll have security follow them around,” he said.


  4. Andrew_Earlwood @ #1302 Sunday, June 7th, 2020 – 6:38 pm

    “ On Sunday, NSW Police Acting Commissioner Mal Lanyon told reporters he stood by the force’s use of pepper spray and alleged that protesters were “inciting police”.”

    Cop speak for ‘they were getting lippy’.

    That would have to be the most pathetic excuse.

    They said something nasty to me, so I assaulted them with pepper spray.

  5. “Incite” means to encourage unlawful violence.

    So, protesters got lippy in the bowels of central station after police had herded them into that confined space and hence, having been so ‘incited’ NSW police then committed unlawful violence. The irony is obviously lost on Generalissimo Mick’s Obrest Gruppenfuhrer, Mal.

  6. “ That would have to be the most pathetic excuse.

    They said something nasty to me, so I assaulted them with pepper spray.”

    Cop tactics 101. Prod a ‘usual suspect’ until they say or do something disrespectful, then execute the trifecta.

    My history of Australian law lecturer told me over 30 years ago that NSW only functions if there is a royal commission followed by a purge into the NSWPF every 25-30 years. … It’s time.

  7. meher baba says:
    Sunday, June 7, 2020 at 11:51 am
    Leroy: “Is Sarah Hanson Young splitting from The Greens? Extraordinary full page ad in The Saturday Paper which directs readers to a personal website, makes no mention of The Greens, but contains a redesign of the famous Greens Triangle logo.”

    If this is what it looks like it might be, we’re never going to hear the end of it from some of the Green-obsessives on this forum such as BW and Briefly will be ecstatic. That prospect alone makes me hope that it isn’t true.

    Oh, it sounds to good to be true. The dissolution of the LibKin would be a day of great rejoicing.

    Fuck the LibKin.

    I’ll believe it when it happens. They can go to groupers political heaven.

  8. The militarisation of policing is concerning. An article on the use of helicopters…
    “These problems are magnified in a protest setting, where the crowds would make it difficult for pedestrians to flee. In Chinatown on Monday, where the crowds had been funneled between two blocks of three- and four-story buildings, there was little room to spread. “

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