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Voting and Elections: Electric electorate
Lower secondary/Middle secondary
What's an electorate?
An electorate is like a piece of a puzzle. It is a weird shape and one part of a big picture. If you put all the pieces together, you get a map of Australia. There are 150 Commonwealth electorates in Australia of all sizes.
Why electorates? Why not just count the votes and that's it? The idea of 'one person, one vote' worked pretty well in the early days of Australia. When the population got bigger and people moved around, a new system was needed to extend the idea to 'one vote, one value'.
Look at it this way, size isn't everything. Kalgoorlie in Western Australia is Australia's biggest electorate by area. It covers 2.3 million square kilometres but has 76,000 voters. By comparison, the smallest electorate by area is Wentworth in NSW. It is 26 square kilometres but has 80,000 voters. The places could not be more different - a suburb of Sydney compared with a large rural mining town. The views and concerns of the people who live in each area are probably pretty different.
To try to make each person's vote count more equally so all the people can be represented more fairly, Australia uses a system of 'proportional representation' to define the electoral boundaries. You can learn more about this idea by visiting the Commonwealth Parliament site dealing with electoral redistribution or by going to the Australian Electoral Commission site.
What's your electorate?
Everybody lives in an electorate. Do you know the name of yours? You can find out on the Australian Electoral Commission site.
Each electorate was named after a person, place or Australian Aboriginal word. Want to find out about yours? Want to find out where other names came from? It is more interesting than you might think (really). Have a look at the origins of present electoral division names on the Australian Electoral Commission site.
Each electorate is a bit different. The things that concern people who live there can vary from one place to another. What are the issues in your area? These affect everyone, not just the people who can vote.
You can get information about the current senators and members of Commonwealth Parliament. Try contacting senators and members to find out what the issues are in your electorate and what they are doing about them.