Proportional Representation Society of Australia

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The Gregory Fractional Transfer


* Surplus Transfer by Random Sampling: Although the provision for it was soon replaced by the The Electoral Act 1907 (7 Edw. VII No. 6) of Tasmania, Australia's use of proportional representation using the single transferable vote (PR-STV) for parliamentary polls began under The Electoral Act 1896 (60 Vict. No. 49) of Tasmania. The transfer of surpluses provided for in Section 115 (IV-VI) of that 1896 Act used a similar intention to that of the Gregory Fractional Transfer, which was later formalized in Schedule 4 of the 1907 Act above, and was superior to the random sampling system that was later inserted into the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 by Section 3 of the 1948 amending legislation that instituted PR for Australia's Senate. That primitive random sampling system applied for Senate polls until 1983. It is still used for municipal and Legislative Council polls in New South Wales, and for lower house polls in Eire and Malta.


Original Gregory Fractional Transfer: The term, Transfer Value, was introduced into Tasmanian legislation with the original Gregory Fractional Transfer in 1907, which is the same as Clauses 2.3 and 4.3 of the PRSA's rules. That system is used to transfer surplus votes that arise from first preferences, and the last parcel of ballot-papers transferred in the case of other surpluses, by examining all such ballot-papers, and transferring a fractional part of their vote value to the candidate indicated as the next available preference.

Its first inclusion in Australian legislation was in Schedule 4 of The Electoral Act 1907 of Tasmania (7 Edw. VII No. 6), which provided, for the first time, that all the electoral districts for the election of members to Tasmania's House of Assembly were to be multi-member districts, using proportional representation, with the Droop quota replacing the Hare quota. Those features of that 1907 law remain part of the Hare-Clark system used in Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory. It is named after its original proponent in 1880, Mr J B Gregory.  A good account of it, which mentions J B Gregory, of Melbourne, is shown in Paragraph 20 of the official report of Tasmania’s first state-wide Hare-Clark election in 1909. A 2003 paper by David Farrell and Ian McAllister ably compares the Original Gregory Fractional Transfer with later variants.


* Unweighted Inclusive Gregory Fractional Transfer: This first modification of the Original Gregory Fractional Transfer was introduced in 1983 to count Senate elections. Replacement of the inferior random sampling system above was advocated by the Proportional Representation Society of Australia, but it did not support the method the amending Bill prescribed for that replacement, as shown by PRSA's letter to Liberal Senator Alan Missen, which he had incorporated in Hansard, as a Weighted Inclusive Gregory Transfer should have been prescribed instead. The Unweighted Inclusive Gregory Transfer used, which provides for transfers from all ballot-papers, rather than just from first preference and last parcel papers only, as with the Original Gregory Fractional Transfer, transfers papers using inappropriate weightings. Victoria has since also adopted it for its Legislative Council and its PR municipal elections.


Weighted Inclusive Gregory Fractional Transfer: The second, later modification - which the Proportional Representation Society of Australia has, since 1983, considered should replace that Unweighted Inclusive Gregory Transfer - is the Weighted Inclusive Gregory Transfer. It now applies for Western Australian Legislative Council polls. See Dr Narelle Miragliotta's informative monograph on it, published by the Western Australian Electoral Commission, and UK rules for using it. In 2014, the PRSA again indicated support for it, and gave an example of it to the JSCEM. The PRSA's Victoria-Tasmania Branch has also recognized the superior principles of the Meek system of PR counting in regard to transfers.



J B Gregory: An article in The Argus in Melbourne dated 13th March 1879 refers to a John Burslem Gregory in attendance at the Vice-Regal Levee of the Governor of Victoria, the Marquis of Normanby. An article in The Argus in Melbourne dated 22nd November 1880, which mentions J B Gregory’s advocacy of preferential voting, refers to him as J B Gregory LL. B. It is likely to have been the same J B Gregory (Page 39) that, in 1884, was one of three men that raised the idea that eventually led to Wilson's Promontory in Victoria becoming a National Park. Mr Gregory was, with Professor Edward Nanson, an active member of the then Senate of the University of Melbourne, as seen by an article in The Argus in Melbourne dated 23rd November 1886, and other references. He died in Berkeley, California, USA, on 21st January 1910.



Further information on Hare-Clark is in the Tasmanian Section of A Brief History of the PRSA and its Purpose.


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