The Northern Territory is set to lose its second Federal lower house seat.
The Australian Electoral Commission today released its determination of membership for the House of Representatives based on population.
Because of population falls across the Territory, the AEC says it will fall from two representatives to one.
The NT has two Senators.
The decision comes despite a last ditch bi-partisan effort of CLP and Labor Party politicians to have the move rejected.
The Australian Electoral Commissioner, Tom Rogers, said he made the determination based on the most recent official population figures for the Commonwealth published, and provided to him, by the Australian Statistician.
Those population figures show the NT had a population of 244,800 on December 31, 2019, a fall of 0.4 per cent on the year before.
Further examination of the numbers shows the Territory "lost" about 4000 residents to other states and territories in that year.
"The figures show the population has increased sufficiently to result in Victoria increasing its entitlement by one seat. At the same time, the determination of entitlement requires Western Australia and the Northern Territory to each decrease by one seat," Mr Rogers said.
- Victoria: Increase from 38 to 39 seats
- WA: Decrease from 16 to 15 seats
- NT: Decrease from two seats to one seat
Mr Rogers said the Electoral Commission was scheduled to meet on July 14 to direct the commencement of federal redistribution processes in Victoria and WA.
"Redistribution Committees will be appointed and the public will soon be invited to make suggestions and comments on matters affecting the drawing of federal electoral boundaries and the naming of electoral divisions," he said.
The determination of reduced entitlement for the Northern Territory to one seat only applies immediately for the purposes of enrolment. The Members elected at the 2019 federal election to represent the Division of Lingiari and the Division of Solomon will continue to represent those electoral divisions.
It has been widely reported that a private Senator's bill has been introduced to Parliament, proposing to increase the Northern Territory's minimum entitlement to two members of the House.
The Minister for Finance has asked the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters to inquire and report on this bill.
"The AEC's announcement today, whilst disappointing, is no surprise. That's why Senator Don Farrell and I moved to introduce a Private Senator's Bill to legislate for our two Northern Territory House of Reps seats," Senator Senator Malarndirri McCarthy said.
"I urge Territorians to make the time to put in submissions to the JSCEM to support our current status of two lower house seats.
"This is a fight against the continued erosion of our Territory voices in Canberra. It is not good enough. We will not remain a people under surrender."
"It is imperative the JSCEM holds a hearing in Darwin so the voices of Territorians can be heard, as well as in Alice Springs to hear from regional voters.
"I would also encourage the committee to provide opportunity for Christmas and Cocos Islands to be heard, as I know submissions are coming from the Indian Ocean Territories."
CLP Senator for the Northern Territory, Dr Sam McMahon, said the implications were concerning because Territorians were already underrepresented in Canberra.
Dr McMahon said, "While our population is relatively small, the Northern Territory covers approximately 1.4 million square kilometres, not including Cocos-Keeling islands, and a single Member of Parliament cannot properly represent people in all areas."
In comparison, Tasmania covers an area of about 68,000 square kilometres and has five Members of Parliament in the House of Representatives, as well as twelve Senators. The population of Tasmania is approximately 515,000.
Dr McMahon said, "If you compare the NT to Tasmania you will see they have more than four times the Federal representation Territorians have, yet their population is not much more than double our own."
Contraction of the population in the NT has been of great concern over the past few years, however, Senator McMahon believes this alone should not necessarily mean we have less representation.
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