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Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill 1993
Portfolio: Arts and Administrative Services
Commencement: Royal Assent
To remove a doubt as to the legal validity of the membership of federal Redistribution Committees in States that abolish the office of Surveyor-General.
Part IV of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (the Principal Act) provides for the redistribution or redrawing of federal electoral boundaries in the States/Territories.
Composition of Redistribution Committees:
Under the provisions of the Principal Act, an electoral redistribution of a State/Territory commences whenever the Electoral Commission so directs by publishing a notice in the Gazette. A redistribution must occur if a State/Territory's entitlement to representation changes, if a certain percentage of seats is malapportioned, or if seven years have elapsed since the last redistribution.
Redistribution Committees for each State/Territory are established as soon as practicable after the commencement of a redistribution [subsection 60(1)]. The members of a Redistribution Committee for a State consists of the Electoral Commissioner, the Australian Electoral Officer for the State, the Surveyor-General for the State, and the Auditor-General for the State [subsection 60(2)]. If the Surveyor-General is not available, the Electoral Commission is required to appoint a Deputy Surveyor-General where such a person is available, or in any other case an officer nominated for the purpose by the Governor-General, being a senior officer of the Australian Public Service from that State [subsection 60(3)].
Redistribution Committees are responsible for proposing the electoral boundaries of each State/Territory. Under the provisions of the Principal Act, Redistribution Committees are required to take into account submissions made by interested persons and organisations, lines of travel and communication, community of interest, physical features and existing electoral boundaries. An augmented Electoral Commission considers objections to Redistribution Committee proposals, and makes final proposals and determinations as to electoral boundaries. The members of an augmented Electoral Commission include the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, the Member of the Electoral Commission who is neither the Chairperson nor the Electoral Commissioner, and members of the Redistribution Committee.
Rationale for Amendments:
Queensland and Western Australia have abolished the office of Surveyor-General. The Government maintains, in light of the membership requirements imposed by the Principal Act, that this leaves doubt as to the legal validity of the membership of Redistribution Committees established in those States and any others that abolish the office of Surveyor-General. The amendments proposed by this Bill are intended to remove this doubt.
Commencement: On the day of receipt of the Royal Assent ( clause 2).
Redistribution Committee Membership Requirements: The principal effect of clause 3 is to provide that where there is no office of Surveyor-General for a State, the Minister of that State responsible for land surveying and mapping, or another Minister acting on his/her behalf, may nominate a person holding the office equivalent to the office of Surveyor-General, or if that person is unavailable, a person holding an office equivalent to the office of Deputy Surveyor-General, for that State. If no such person is available, the Governor-General is to nominate a senior officer of the Australian Public Service from the State.
1. Second Reading Speech, Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill 1993, p. 1.
Ian Ireland (Ph. 06 2772438)
Bills Digest Service 16 December 1993
Parliamentary Research Service
This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.
Commonwealth of Australia 1993.
Except to the extent of the uses permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without the prior written consent of the Parliamentary Library, other than by Members of the Australian Parliament in the course of their official duties.
Published by the Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1993.