Proportional Representation Society of Australia

Tel +61429176725



PR-STV analyses of some Australian parliamentary elections


Click on a blue hyperlink of interest, or to see a likely poll outcome under Hare-Clark proportional representation.


Lower Houses


House of Representatives 1996-2004










(By-election countback)















Upper Houses







* In 2003 Victoria's 150-year old
"winner-take-all" system
was superseded by
a PR-STV system.



(Appointed Council)










Australian Electoral Commission Web site
(other State and Territory Web sites can be accessed from the HOW ELECTIONS WORK menu)


Voting figures for Commonwealth elections from 1901,
including by-elections, and more recent State and Territory election summaries



By contrast with New South Wales, all 30 MLCs in Victoria were directly elected from 1855, the date on which Victoria gained a Legislative Assembly (all 60 of that Assembly's members were directly elected), by force of The Constitution Act 1855, which formed Schedule 1 of the Imperial Act 18 & 19 Vict. c. 55. Victoria had direct elections for its Legislative Council 123 years before NSW, but Victoria had a Legislative Council franchise that was much more restrictive than that of its Legislative Assembly, until those restrictions were removed in 1950. 

The foregone conclusions that were the case with elections in the many seats that are usually "safe" for a particular party that is strong in a given electorate in a single-vacancy system meant that, for the Legislative Council, it took until 1961 (1958 in the case of the Legislative Assembly) before Victoria had elections at which all seats were contested. All seats in both houses have been contested since 1961, as a matter of policy by the major parties, even though many have still been foregone conclusions for a single party, as the reason for the lack of contest for Upper House seats was not removed until proportional representation was introduced for its polls. 

Following the introduction in 2003 of that PR-STV system, all electoral regions are sure to be contested in future, as there will be a genuine contest in each. Until the proclamation on 8th April 2003 in Special Government Gazette S57  of the Royal Assent to the Constitution (Parliamentary Reform) Act 2003, which altered the Constitution Act 1975 to require use of PR for the Upper House, Victoria, unlike NSW, had never had any provision for a referendum on constitutional or electoral matters, let alone for other legislation where there is a disagreement between the two Houses. The first Legislative Council of Victoria was created by the Australian Colonies Government Act 1850. 

A retrograde aspect of the way PR was instituted for Victoriaís Legislative Council was the failure to provide for the filling of casual vacancies by the electors by countback, and the faulty decision to fill casual vacancies by a vote of a joint sitting of the Parliament instead. The first MP, not directly elected by the people, to sit in the Parliament since 1856 took her seat in 2009.

The Constitution Act 1855 of Victoria established multi-member electoral districts for both the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly. The Legislative Council's 30 MLCs were elected from 6 five-member provinces, with one of the five members retiring every two years. The Legislative Assembly's 60 MLAs were elected from 37 districts whenever the Assembly was dissolved, or on its expiry after its five year maximum life. When a multi-vacancy poll occurred, multiple plurality voting and counting applied.

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The history and foundation of that Act is recited in the preamble to the original version of the present constitution of the State of Victoria, the Constitution Act 1975, which version stated: 

"Whereas the Legislative Council of the colony of Victoria did in the year 1854 pass a Bill intituled "An Act to establish a Constitution in and for the colony of Victoria": 

And whereas the said Bill was presented to the then Lieutenant-Governor of Victoria for Her Majesty's assent and the said Lieutenant-Governor did thereupon declare that he reserved the said Bill for the signification of Her Majesty's pleasure thereon: 

And whereas the Imperial Parliament deemed it expedient to authorize Her Majesty to assent to the said reserved Bill amended by the omission of certain provisions thereof: 

And whereas the said Bill as amended was set forth in a Schedule to an Act of the Imperial Parliament passed in the 18th and 19th years of the reign of Her Majesty Queen Victoria intituled "An Act to enable Her Majesty to Assent to a Bill, as amended, of the Legislature of Victoria, to establish a Constitution in and for the Colony of Victoria" by which Act Her Majesty in Council was authorized to assent to the said reserved Bill amended by the omission of certain provisions thereof, and the Bill was assented to accordingly: 

And whereas by the said Bill as so amended the Colony of Victoria was established as a self-governing colony with responsible government: 

And whereas the said Bill as so amended is the Constitution of Victoria and is known as The Constitution Act: 

And whereas it is provided by section LX of the said The Constitution Act that the Legislature of Victoria has full power and authority from time to time by any Act or Acts to repeal alter or vary all or any of the provisions of The Constitution Act and to substitute others in lieu thereof:

Be it therefore enacted by the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly of Victoria in this present Parliament assembled and by the authority of the same as follows (that is to say):- 

1. (1) This Act may be cited as the Constitution Act 1975.



The first Parliamentary chamber in Australia was not elected, but was appointed by the Governor, under the New South Wales Act 1823 - 4 Geo. IV c 96 (Imp.). 

All MLCs in NSW continued to be fully appointed, by the Governor-in-Council, until the New South Wales Constitution Act 1902 - 2 Edw. VI No. 32 - was amended at a referendum in 1933. The present provisions in that Constitution Act 1902, whereby the Legislative Council surrendered its power to block supply and allowed the provision whereby its rejection of any other bill could only be overridden by a referendum, were also inserted in 1933. A proposal to abolish the Legislative Council and to prohibit its restoration was defeated at a referendum in 1961.

The Legislative Council of New South Wales had by then become the last Australian Parliamentary chamber to have its members so appointed. The referendum that implemented that change instituted a system for electing MLCs in NSW that involved overlapping 12-year terms, with elections every fourth year by an electoral college consisting of all MLAs and the continuing two-thirds of the MLCs, with voting by secret ballot using PR-STV counting. The present system of direct election of all MLCs in NSW by the people, using quota-preferential counting, was introduced at a successful referendum in 1978 to amend the Constitution Act 1902



The 1983 by-election countback for one of the seven seats in the House of Assembly for the electorate of Denison was necessitated by the resignation of Dr Norman Sanders, who had been elected to that house in 1982. This by-election countback proved to be the only time in the history of the use of countback to date at which the candidate elected to fill a casual vacancy under this system was not a member of the same group or party as the vacating member (Click here to view outcomes of countbacks since 1965). Under the countback system, that was an outcome based solely on the voting decisions made by the voters at the original 1982 general election, and nobody else.

At that 1982 election Dr Sanders' name appeared on the Denison ballot-paper as one of the five candidates in the column listing the candidates endorsed by the Australian Democrats party. Before his election in 1982, Dr Sanders had been prominent in Tasmania as the Director of the Tasmanian Wilderness Society, which was extremely active in conservation campaigns in Tasmania by then, but after his election he resigned as Director, and was succeeded as Director by Dr Bob Brown, who had stood unsuccessfully at that election as a member of a group of independent Greens candidates. The voting figures in the countback report show that Dr Brown received more of the next available preferences of those that voted for Dr Sanders than all of the remaining four Australian Democrat candidates combined. When all of Dr Sanders' next available preferences had been examined and transferred in accordance with the voters' markings, Dr Brown received an absolute majority of them, and was therefore declared elected.

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