The Electoral Act 1907 (WA) (the Act) requires that Western Australia’s electoral boundaries be reviewed at regular intervals so that the number of electors within electoral districts remains within the permitted tolerance range. This review is undertaken by three Electoral Distribution Commissioners appointed under the Act: the Hon. Neville Owen, a retired judge of the Supreme Court of Western Australia (Chairman); Mr David Kerslake, Electoral Commissioner; and Mr Tom Joseph, Government Statistician.
Reviewing electoral boundaries is commonly referred to as a ‘distribution’ or ‘redistribution’. The statutory language suggests it is more appropriate to refer to the review as a ‘division’ and that terminology will be used in this report.
The Commissioners’ primary function is to determine the boundaries of each region and district and decide which districts will be placed in each region. The Commissioners must ensure that elector numbers in a district do not fall outside the upper or lower permitted tolerance range. However, the Act specifies a number of other factors to which the Commissioners must give due consideration. Those factors are listed later in the report.
The process to determine the boundaries commenced on 30 March 2015 with a public notice inviting written suggestions about how the boundaries should be drawn. Nineteen suggestions and 29 comments on suggestions were received and they provided useful information to the Commissioners about how to proceed.
The Commissioners published proposed electoral boundaries on 24 July 2015 and members of the public then had an opportunity to lodge objections. All objections were assessed individually on their merits against the requirements of the legislation, the effect on the boundaries of other districts and compatibility with other responses. While this allowed the Commissioners to adopt some suggestions to adjust the proposed electoral boundaries, not all could be accommodated.
The electoral boundaries published in this document give effect to the requirements of the Act and will apply for the next State general election, expected to be held in March 2017.