On Elections

How people elect parliaments

Australian Capital Territory

Legislative Assembly

Specific Elections: 1989 – 1992 – 1995 – 1998 – 2001 – 2004 – 2008 – 2012 – 2016


The Australian Capital Territory was established in 1913, but responsible government and a directly elected legislature were only introduced by federal legislation in 1988, with the first Legislative Assembly elected in 1989.

The ACT has the representative parliamentary system of government, in which executive power is exercised by the Chief Minister on the basis of the continuing confidence of a majority in the Legislative Assembly.

The territory has a unicameral Legislative Assembly of which the sole house is an assembly of 25 members. For the first 8 elections from 1989 to 2012, 17 members were elected. The Assembly was enlarged to 25 members with effect from the 2016 elections.

The members are directly elected in five electoral divisions electing 5 members. At the election of 1989 and 1992 the territory was a single electoral division of 17 members. From 1995 to 2012 the territory had three electoral divisions of 7, 5 and 5 members.

The initial electoral method of the Assembly, used in 1989 and 1992, was a unique variant of the system of seat allocation party proportionality. The system was unusual in that it attempted to incorporate the Australian tradition of preferential voting. Voters indicated on their ballots preferential votes for candidates, which were grouped into lists. These votes were initially tallied to create vote totals for each list (party) based on the aggregate of the individual votes within each list. Counting proceeded by first eliminating all lists (and thus all candidates within them) which won less than 5.6% of the vote (1/17th), and transferring all such votes to the tally of the list of the next most preferred candidate on an remaining eligible list, thus creating revised aggregate vote tallies for each remaining list. The party list seat allocation calculation was then performed on those revised tallies using the D’Hondt formula. Finally, the individual candidates awarded seats won by each list would be those individuals with the highest vote totals as marked on the ballots, again using a preferential transfer approach to eliminate least successful candidates in turn. This complex system required 9 weeks of counting to process in 1989, and was widely considered to be unsatisfactory.

In a voter referendum in 1992 the electorate supported a shift to the single transferable vote (STV), which was legislated for in 1994. Since 1995 the Assembly members have therefore been directly elected by the STV method, including modern features such as the inclusive Gregory method of surplus distribution and the use of Robson Rotation of ballot papers.

The boundaries of the Legislative Assembly electoral divisions are reviewed regularly by an independent commission.

Since 2004 the terms of the Legislative Assembly are legislatively fixed at four years.


Commentary and analysis

Preview of the ACT elections of October 2016 (January 2016)



[recent redistricting]

Inequality in the effective influence of voters caused by variations in Legislative Assembly division enrolments is very low, with the variations in recent years being 2.8% in 2012 (taking into account the different numbers of members elected in the three electoral divisions) and X.X% in 2016.

[nomination openness – party configurations]

[summary of results]

[inequality by margins]

Specific elections

1989 – 1992 – 1995 – 1998 – 2001 – 2004 – 2008 – 2012 – 2016



Official data on all ACT elections is available from the ACT Electoral Commission, also known as Elections ACT.

The available data is comprehensive and complete. There have been no uncontested elections in the Assembly’s electoral history.


[Dataset not yet published]

  • OnElections election data AU-ACT-1989-2016.xls
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