ACT Legislative Assembly votes to increase the size of the Assembly to 25 Members from the 2016 election

Published 6 Aug 2014

On 5 August 2014 the ACT Legislative Assembly voted to increase the size of the Assembly to 25 Members from the 2016 election, consisting of 5 electorates each returning 5 Members. This will be the first increase in the size of the Assembly, which has consisted of 17 Members since its establishment in 1989.

This decision of the Assembly adopts the principal recommendation made by the Expert Reference Group on the size of the ACT Legislative Assembly, chaired by the Electoral Commissioner Mr Phillip Green. The final report prepared by the Expert Reference Group on the size of the ACT Legislative Assembly was presented to the ACT Chief Minister on 28 March 2013. The Chief Minister publicly released the report on 16 April 2013.

In March 2013, the federal parliament amended the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988 to give the Assembly the power to set its own size by an enactment passed by at least a 2/3 majority of members.

The Assembly passed two enactments on 5 August 2014 to give effect to this increase in the size of the Assembly. The Australian Capital Territory (Legislative Assembly) Act 2014 provides that the Legislative Assembly will consist of 25 Members to be elected at the next general election held after commencement of the Act. The next ACT election is scheduled to be held on 15 October 2016. This Act was supported unanimously by all 17 Members of the Assembly.

The Electoral Amendment Act 2014 will amend the Electoral Act 1992 to provide that the ACT must be divided into 5 electorates, with 5 members to be elected from each electorate. This Act will also make consequential amendments to the Electoral Act to remove references to 7 member electorates. This Act was supported by 16 of the 17 Members of the Assembly, with support from all ACT Labor and Canberra Liberals MLAs, and with The ACT Greens MLA Mr Shane Rattenbury voting against.

In addition to the requirement for a 2/3 majority under the ACT Self-Government Act for a change in the size of the Assembly, a 2/3 majority was also required for both of these Acts to proceed under the Proportional Representation (Hare-Clark) Entrenchment Act 1994. The Entrenchment Act applies to any enactment that is intended to alter the size of the Assembly or to change the ACT’s system of Robson Rotation printing of candidates’ names on ballot papers (which is being altered to remove the tables relating to 7 member electorates).

The next step in the process of increasing the size of the Assembly to 25 Members at the 2016 election will be the conduct of a redistribution of electoral boundaries. Under the Electoral Act, this process is scheduled to commence after 15 October 2014, when the ACT Electoral Commission will be responsible for appointing a Redistribution Committee.

The Redistribution Committee will be chaired by the Electoral Commissioner, Mr Green. The first public step in the redistribution process will be a call for public suggestions and comments on the proposed boundaries, including the names of the electorates. Mr Green expects this call for submissions to happen in November 2014.

More information: