State Electoral Boundaries
An electoral district is a geographically defined area, and each district elects a representative to the Legislative Assembly. New South Wales is divided into 93 State electoral districts.
The electoral district boundaries are determined by a distribution process which provides for an approximate equal number of electors in each electoral district. A margin of allowance of plus or minus 10% of the average enrolment is permitted.
Redistribution of Boundaries
A redistribution is carried out:
- when the law changes the number of members of the Legislative Assembly (presently 93) or
- after every second State election or
- when more than a quarter of the electoral districts do not have an equal number of voters (within a margin of 5% more or less for a period of more than two months)
- at other times as provided by law.
Redistributions are conducted by 3 Electoral District Commissioners who are appointed by the Governor. The Commissioners must be one of each of the following;
- A Judge of the Supreme Court (past or current),
- The Electoral Commissioner,
- The Surveyor-General.
The Commissioners must obtain and consider advice of a recognised demographer before determining the boundaries. They must also consider:
- the community of interest within the electoral district, including economic, social and regional interests
- the means of communication and travel within the electoral district
- the physical features and area of the electoral district
- mountain and other natural boundaries
- the boundaries of the existing electoral districts.
The redistribution is a legal process conducted in a transparent public environment. It includes:
- inviting the public and interested organisations to make suggestions for changes to the electoral district boundaries and names
- allowing a period for interested people and organisations to comment on any suggestions
- the Commissioners preparing proposed district boundaries and names and releasing them for comment
- allowing a period during which suggestions and objections may be made regarding the Commissioners' proposed boundaries and names
- further consideration by the Commissioners of the suggestions and objections (which may include public hearings)
- Commissioners determining the district boundaries and names.
The boundaries must be published in the Government Gazette and there is no appeal against the Commissioners' determinations.
The new boundaries come into effect at the next State election held after the redistribution.
Local Government Area Boundaries
Areas and wards
The number of electors enrolled in council areas varies from less than 1,000 to over 150,000.
Councils may be either:
- undivided - where the whole council electorate elects all the councillors for the council; or
- divided into wards - where each ward electorate elects an equal number of councillors to make up the whole council.
There are 152 council areas in NSW.
Ward boundary management
Under section 211 of the Local Government Act 1993 councils that are divided into wards are required to keep these boundaries under review to ensure numbers of electors in each ward are approximately the same.
If a review is undertaken (which should occur once in every term in the year after an election), and a council is required to alter its ward boundaries due to a difference of greater than 10% in the number of electors between wards, the council is required to, among other things, consult the NSW Electoral Commission.
An undivided council can only divide its area into wards, or abolish wards in its area if approval is given at a referendum. All enrolled electors in a council area vote in a referendum and the result of the referendum is binding on the council.
Boundary changes affecting local government areas that involve amalgamation occur through the Local Government Boundaries Commission, a statutory authority constituted under the Local Government Act 1993.