Fair representation for the ACT and the NT has passed the Senate today.
Originally, Labor introduced a proposal that would guarantee 2 seats as a minimum for people of the Northern Territory but only one seat for the ACT. This was supported by every Labor member for the ACT, including Senator Gallagher and MPs Andrew Leigh, Alicia Payne and David Smith.
“The Labor proposal had Canberrans being treated as second-class citizens in our democracy,” said Senator for the ACT, Zed Seselja.
“It put the people of the ACT at a distinct disadvantage, guaranteeing higher minimum representation for the Northern Territory than the Capital Territory. It was unfair to the people of the ACT and to the principles of our democracy.”
When the Labor proposal was examined by the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, the Committee said:
“The private Senators’ Bill would introduce a new minimum of two seats for the Northern Territory but would keep the Australian Capital Territory, uniquely, on the lower one seat floor.
This would institute a two-tier arrangement for minimum Territory representation…
…the committee considers on principle alone there ought to be parity in the treatment of the two territories.”
“A fairer, more robust and more reliable solution was introduced by the government using the harmonic mean method of calculation. This method reduces unfair outcomes where a small drop in population means a massive difference in representation, and installs a system where the outcome is closer to the national averages. It also removes the possibility of political influence, which the Labor proposal left open.”
“Our solution protects the people of both the territories and provides a legitimate principle-based model going forward. Importantly, it does not treat voters in the ACT differently than voters in the NT,” Senator Seselja concluded.