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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2005  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 21/01/2005   
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Contents >> Government >> Commonwealth elections

Franchise

Any Australian citizen aged 18 and over, or British subject who was on the Commonwealth Roll as at 25 January 1984, is qualified to enrol and vote at Commonwealth elections. Residence in an electorate for a period of one month before enrolment is necessary to enable a qualified person to enrol. Enrolment and attendance at a polling place on polling day (except under certain lawful exceptions) are compulsory for all eligible persons.

Parliamentary terms

Members of the House of Representatives are elected for a maximum term of three years, though elections may be called earlier. Senators have fixed terms of six years. Normally half the Senate retires every three years, and elections for the Senate are usually held at the same time as elections for the House of Representatives, though they need not be. The most recent election of each house separately occurred in 1970 (Senate) and 1972 (House of Representatives).

At times of disagreement between the House of Representatives and the Senate, both houses may be dissolved and an election called for both houses. Six of the forty-one Commonwealth elections have been double dissolution elections, the most recent of which occurred in 1987.

Table 2.4 shows the number and terms of all parliaments since Federation.


2.4 COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTS
Number of ParliamentDate of openingDate of dissolution

19 May 190123 November 1903
22 March 19045 November 1906
320 February 190719 February 1910
41 July 191023 April 1913
59 July 191330 July 1914(a)
68 October 191426 March 1917
714 June 19173 November 1919
826 February 19206 November 1922
928 February 19233 October 1925
1013 January 19269 October 1928
116 February 192916 September 1929
1220 November 192927 November 1931
1317 February 19327 August 1934
1423 October 193421 September 1937
1530 November 193727 August 1940
1620 November 19407 July 1943
1723 September 194316 August 1946
186 November 19461 October 1949
1922 February 195019 March 1951(a)
2012 June 195121 April 1954
214 August 19544 November 1955
2215 February 195614 October 1958
2317 February 19592 November 1961
2420 February 19621 November 1963
2525 February 196431 October 1966
2621 February 196729 September 1969
2725 November 19692 November 1972
2827 February 197311 April 1974(a)
299 July 197411 November 1975(a)
3017 February 19768 November 1977
3121 February 197819 September 1980
3225 November 19804 February 1983(a)
3321 April 198326 October 1984
3421 February 19855 June 1987(a)
3514 September 198719 February 1990
368 May 19908 February 1993
374 May 199329 January 1996
3830 April 199631 August 1998
3910 November 19988 October 2001
4012 February 200231 August 2004
4116 November 2004

(a) A dissolution of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Source: Department of the Parliamentary Library.


Electorates

For the purpose of House of Representatives elections each state or territory is divided into single-member electorates corresponding in number to the number of members of the House of Representatives to which the state or territory is entitled. In Senate elections the whole state or territory constitutes a single electorate.

Redistributions of House of Representatives electorates must be held in each state and territory at least every seven years, though a change in the population of a state or territory may see them held more frequently. The article Drawing House of Representatives electorate boundaries discusses electoral redistributions in more detail.

For the most recent election (October 2004) Queensland had gained an extra member, while South Australia had lost a member. The House of Representatives numbered 150 members (table 2.5).


2.5 REPRESENTATION ENTITLEMENTS, 2004 election

State/territory
Seats
Change from 2001 election

New South Wales
50
-
Victoria
37
-
Queensland
28
+1
Western Australia
15
-
South Australia
11
-1
Tasmania
5
-
Australian Capital Territory
2
-
Northern Territory
2
-
Total
150
-

Source: Department of the Parliamentary Library.


2004 election

The House of Representatives was dissolved on 31 August 2004. A general election for the House of Representatives and a half-Senate election was held on 9 October 2004. The number of electors enrolled at the time of the election is shown in table 2.6.

At the 2004 election the Liberal-Nationals coalition regained control of the House of Representatives and formed Australia’s 59th Commonwealth ministry. From 1 July 2005 the Liberal-Nationals coalition will control the Senate, with 39 of the 76 seats, as a result of the half-Senate election.

The state of the parties in the Commonwealth Parliament following the 2004 election is shown in table 2.7. For details of the 2004 election, see: <http://www.aec.gov.au>.


2.6 COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION OF 9 OCTOBER 2004, Electors enrolled

State/territory

New South Wales
4,328,949
Victoria
3,309,800
Queensland
2,475,611
South Australia
1,051,923
Western Australia
1,248,732
Tasmania
342,809
Northern Territory
112,930
Australian Capital Territory
227,541
Australia
13,098,295

Source: Australian Electoral Commission


2.7 STATE OF THE PARTIES, Commonwealth Parliament


House of Representatives (from October 2004)
Liberal Party
74
Australian Labor Party
60
Nationals
12
Country Liberal Party
1
Independent
3
Total
150
Senate (from 1 July 2005)
Liberal Party
32
Australian Labor Party
28
Nationals
6
Australian Democrats
4
The Greens
4
Country Liberal Party
1
Family First Party
1
Total
76

Source: Department of the Parliamentary Library.


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