Labor Member for Fraser Andrew Leigh has published his submission to the ACT Electoral Commission’s Expert Reference Group and it’s inquiry into the size of the ACT Legislative Assembly.
Like any smart observer he wants an expansion to a setup five five electorates each returning five members. (rather than the current nutso 5, 5, 7 arrangement).
As the population of Canberra continues to increase, the interests of the community could be disadvantaged by ongoing underrepresentation. Increasing the Assembly to 25 MLAs (consisting of five electorates, each returning five members) would provide the people of Canberra with a total of 29 elected representatives, or 1 per 12, 931 people. This would still be well below other states and territories (and less than half of what the cube root rule would suggest), but it would be a significant improvement on the current situation. A 25-member Assembly would provide Canberra with a level of representation per-person comparable to that in 1989, when the territory attained self-government.
In my view, a 25-member Assembly is the smallest that ought to be considered. If the Assembly is increased to 25 members, I believe that it should only be done with an indexation formula built in, which would (for example) allow an increase from 25 members to 35 members (seven electorates, each with five members) once the ACT population has increased by a certain amount (eg. 10 per cent) from today’s level. Legislating such an increase would provide a defensible and predictable default for future generations, who could always choose to vary it if they wished.