Legislative Assembly of Queensland

Last updated

Legislative Assembly
57th Parliament
Coat of Arms of Queensland.svg
of the Parliament of Queensland
Founded22 May 1860;161 years ago (22 May 1860)
Curtis Pitt, Labor
since 13 February 2018 (2018-02-13)
Yvette D'Ath, Labor
since 11 December 2017 (2017-12-11)
Jarrod Bleijie, Liberal National
since 15 December 2017 (2017-12-15)
2020.11.14 Queensland Legislative Assembly - Composition of Members.svg
Political groups
Government (51)
  •   Labor (51)

Opposition (34)

Crossbench (7)

Vacant (1)

  •   Vacant (1)
Length of term
4 years
Full preferential voting
First election
27 April – 11 May 1860
Last election
31 October 2020
Next election
26 October 2024
Meeting place
Chamber of the Queensland Legislative Assembly.JPG
Legislative Assembly Chamber,
Parliament House, Brisbane,
Queensland, Australia

The Legislative Assembly of Queensland is the sole chamber of the unicameral Parliament of Queensland established under the Constitution of Queensland. Elections are held every four years and are done by full preferential voting. The Assembly has 93 members, who have used the letters MP after their names since 2000 (previously they were styled MLAs).


There is approximately the same population in each electorate; however, that has not always been the case (in particular, a malapportionment system - not, strictly speaking, a gerrymander - dubbed the Bjelkemander was in effect during the 1970s and 1980s). The Assembly first sat in May 1860 and produced Australia's first Hansard in April 1864.

Following the outcome of the 2015 election, successful amendments to the electoral act in early 2016 include: adding an additional four parliamentary seats from 89 to 93, changing from optional preferential voting to full-preferential voting, and moving from unfixed three-year terms to fixed four-year terms. [1]



Initially, the Legislative Assembly was the lower house of a bicameral parliament influenced by the Westminster system. The upper house was the Legislative Council, its members appointed for life by the government of the day. The first sitting, in May 1860, was held in the old converted convict barracks in Queen Street. [2] It consisted of 26 members from 16 electorates, nearly half of whom were pastoralists or squatters. Early sessions dealt with issues of land, labour, railways, public works, immigration, education and gold discoveries. [2]

In April 1864, Australia's first Hansard was produced. That year also saw member numbers increased to 32, and by 1868—as more redistributions occurred—the number grew to 42. Members were not paid until 1886, effectively excluding the working class from state politics. [2]

The Assembly was elected under the 'first-past-the-post' (plurality) system 1860 to 1892. From then until 1942 an unusual form of preferential voting called the 'contingent vote' was used. This was introduced by a conservative government to hinder the emerging Labor Party from gaining seats with minority support. [3]

In 1942 the plurality system was reintroduced. The Labor government then in power had seen its vote decline in the 1940s and sought to divide the opposition. In 1962, it was replaced with full preferential voting, as the governing conservatives wanted to take advantage of a split in Labor. In 1992, this was changed to the optional preferential system currently used. [3]

After 1912, electorates elected only a single member to the Assembly. [3] In 1922, the Legislative Council was abolished, with the help of members known as the "suicide squad", who were specially appointed to vote the chamber out of existence. This left Queensland with a unicameral parliament—currently the only Australian state with this arrangement.

Queensland's "gerrymander" 1948–1989

From 1948 until the reforms following the end of the Bjelke-Petersen era, Queensland used an electoral zoning system that was tweaked by the government of the day to maximise its own voter support at the expense of the opposition. It has been called a form of gerrymander, however it is more accurately referred to as an electoral malapportionment. In a classic gerrymander, electoral boundaries are drawn to take advantage of known pockets of supporters and to isolate areas of opposition voters so as to maximise the number of seats for the government for a given number of votes and to cause opposition support to be "wasted" by concentrating their supporters in relatively fewer electorates.

The Queensland "gerrymander", first introduced by the Labor Party (ALP) government of Ned Hanlon in 1949 used a series of electoral zones based on their distance from Brisbane.

Initially Queensland was divided into three zones—the metropolitan zone (Brisbane), the provincial cities zone (which also included rural areas around provincial cities) and the rural zone. While the number of electors in each seat in a zone was roughly equal, there was considerable variation in the number of electors between zones. Thus an electorate in the remote zone might have as few as 5,000 electors, while a seat in the metropolitan zone might have as many as 25,000. Using this system the Labor government was able to maximise its vote, particularly in its power base of the provincial city zone.

With the split in the party in the late 1950s the ALP lost office and a conservative Coalition government led by the Country Party (later National Party) under Frank Nicklin came to power, which, as discussed above, initially modified the voting system to introduce preferential voting, to take advantage of Labor's split. It also separated the provincial cities from their hinterlands. The hinterlands were added to the rural zone, where new Country Party seats were created.

As the divisions in the ALP abated in the early 1970s, and tensions in the conservative coalition grew, (thus reducing the advantage to be gained by the use of preferential voting), the conservative government, now led by Joh Bjelke-Petersen, modified the zoning system to add a fourth zone—a remote zone, comprising seats with even fewer electors. Thus the conservative government was able to isolate Labor support in provincial cities and maximise its own rural power base. On average, the Country Party needed only 7,000 votes to win a seat, compared with 12,800 for a typical Labor seat.

The entrenchment of a Coalition government was also caused by socio-economic and demographic changes associated with mechanisation of farms and urbanisation which led to a drift of working class population from rural and remote electorates to the cities.

By the late 1980s the decline in the political fortunes of the National Party, together with rapid growth in south east Queensland meant that the zonal system was no longer able to guarantee a conservative victory.

In addition, in 1988 the Federal Labor Government held four constitutional referendumsone of which was for the adoption of fair electoral systems around Australia. Although the referendum did not succeed, it heightened public awareness of the issue. A large public interest non-partisan organisation, the Citizens for Democracy, lobbied extensively the Liberal and Labor parties to abolish the gerrymander and to make it a major issue in the lead up to the landmark 1989 Queensland election.

Despite the malapportionment, Labor was rarely able to garner a higher percentage of the vote than the Coalition for most of this period.


In 1989 Labor won government, promising to implement the recommendations of the Fitzgerald Inquiry into police corruption, including the establishment of an Electoral and Administrative Reform Commission (EARC). EARC recommended the abolition of the zonal system in favour of a "modified one vote, one value" system. Under this proposal, subsequently adopted, most electorates consisted of approximately the same number of electors, but with a greater tolerance for fewer electors allowed in a limited number of remote electorates. This plan is still in use today, with 40 seats contested in Brisbane and 49 in the rest of the state.

The youngest person ever elected to Queensland's Legislative Assembly was Lawrence Springborg, former Minister for Natural Resources and Leader of the Opposition. [4] In 1989, he entered parliament aged 21.

Parliament House

The Queensland Legislative Assembly sits in Parliament House in the Brisbane central business district. The building was completed in 1891. The lower house chamber is decorated dark green in the traditional Westminster style. The chamber once featured central tables which divided two rows of elevated benches on each side. The room is now configured in a U-shape away from the Speaker's chair with three rows of benches that have their own desks and microphones. [5]

Distribution of seats

As of 31 October 2020, the composition of Parliament is:

Current Assembly (Total 93 Seats)
Labor 5252
Liberal National 3434
Katter's Australian 33
Greens 22
One Nation 11
Independent 11

See also


Related Research Articles

Gerrymandering Manipulation of electoral district borders to favor certain outcomes of an election

Gerrymandering is a practice intended to establish an unfair political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating the boundaries of electoral districts, which is most commonly used in first-past-the-post electoral systems.

Electoral system of Australia

The Australian electoral system comprises the laws and processes used for the election of members of the Australian Parliament. The system presently has a number of distinctive features including compulsory enrolment, compulsory voting, majority-preferential instant-runoff voting in single-member seats to elect the lower house, the House of Representatives, and the use of the single transferable vote proportional representation system to elect the upper house, the Senate.

South Australian House of Assembly

The House of Assembly, or lower house, is one of the two chambers of the Parliament of South Australia. The other is the Legislative Council. It sits in Parliament House in the state capital, Adelaide.

Politics of Queensland

One of the six founding states of Australia, Queensland has been a federated state subject to the Australian Constitution since 1 January 1901. It is sovereign, other than in the matters ceded in the Australian Constitution to the federal government. It is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy. The Constitution of Queensland sets out the operation of the state's government. The state's constitution contains several entrenched provisions which cannot be changed in the absence of a referendum. There is also a statutory bill of rights, the Queensland Human Rights Act (2019). Queensland's system of government is influenced by the Westminster system and Australia's federal system of government.

In Australia, one vote, one value is a democratic principle, applied in electoral laws governing redistributions of electoral divisions of the House of Representatives. The principle calls for all electoral divisions to have the same number of enrolled voters, within a specified percentage of variance. The electoral laws of the Commonwealth for the House of Representatives and all states follow the principle with some exceptions. The principle does not apply to the Senate, as each state is entitled under the constitution to the same number of senators irrespective of the population of the state.

Parliament of Queensland

The Parliament of Queensland is the legislature of Queensland, Australia. As provided under the Constitution of Queensland, the Parliament consists of the Monarch of Australia and the Legislative Assembly. It has been the only unicameral state legislature in the country since the upper chamber, the Legislative Council, was abolished in 1922. The Legislative Assembly sits in Parliament House in the state capital, Brisbane.

The Bjelkemander was the term given to a system of malapportionment in the Australian state of Queensland in the 1970s and 1980s. Under the system, electorates were allocated to zones such as rural or metropolitan and electoral boundaries drawn so that rural electorates had about half as many voters each as metropolitan ones. The Country Party, a rural-based party led by Joh Bjelke-Petersen, was able to govern uninhibited during this period due to the 'Bjelkemander' and the absence of an upper house of Parliament.

2001 Queensland state election

An election was held in the Australian state of Queensland on 17 February 2001 to elect the 89 members of the state's Legislative Assembly. The result of the election was the return of the Labor Party (ALP) government of Premier Peter Beattie, with an increased majority. Labor won 66 seats, easily the most it has ever won in Queensland and one of Labor's best-ever results nationwide. There was a 10.07% swing towards Labor, while One Nation suffered a 13.98% swing against it, losing eight seats.

2006 Queensland state election

An election was held in the Australian state of Queensland on 9 September 2006 to elect the 89 members of the state's Legislative Assembly, after being announced by Premier Peter Beattie on 15 August 2006.

Electoral district of Bulimba

Bulimba is an electoral district of the Legislative Assembly in the Australian state of Queensland.

1989 Queensland state election

The 1989 Queensland state election was held in the Australian state of Queensland on 2 December 1989 to elect the 89 members of the state's Legislative Assembly. This was the first election following the downfall of seven-term premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen at the end of 1987.

1992 Queensland state election

Elections were held in the Australian state of Queensland on 19 September 1992 to elect the 89 members of the state's Legislative Assembly.

Edmund Denis (Ed) Casey was best known as the leader of the Australian Labor Party in Queensland between 1978 and 1982. He also served as Primary Industries Minister in the government of Wayne Goss between 1989 and 1995. Casey was the member for Mackay in the Legislative Assembly of Queensland between 1969 and 1995.

The Queensland Labor Party (QLP) was a political party of Queensland, Australia formed in 1957 by a breakaway group of the then ruling Labor Party Government after the expulsion of Premier Vince Gair. In 1962 the party became the Queensland section of the Democratic Labor Party (DLP). The party continued to hold seats in the Queensland state parliament until 1972, then suffered a collapse in its vote and wound itself up in 1978.

Electoral district of Redcliffe

Redcliffe is a Legislative Assembly of Queensland electoral division in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

2012 Queensland state election

The 2012 Queensland state election was held on 24 March 2012 to elect all 89 members of the Legislative Assembly, a unicameral parliament.

1944 Queensland state election

Elections were held in the Australian state of Queensland on 15 April 1944 to elect the 62 members of the state's Legislative Assembly.

2015 Queensland state election

The 2015 Queensland state election was held on 31 January 2015 to elect all 89 members of the unicameral Legislative Assembly of Queensland.

2017 Queensland state election

The 2017 Queensland state election was held on 25 November 2017 to elect all 93 members of the Legislative Assembly of Queensland, the unicameral Parliament of Queensland.

2020 Queensland state election

The 2020 Queensland state election was held on 31 October to elect all 93 members to the Legislative Assembly of Queensland. The Labor Party was returned to government for a third-term, led by incumbent premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. With 47 seats needed to form a majority government, Labor won 52 seats, while the Liberal National Party won 34 seats and formed opposition. On the crossbench, Katter's Australian Party retained its 3 seats, the Queensland Greens picked up South Brisbane for a total of 2, Pauline Hanson's One Nation retained Mirani and independent Sandy Bolton retained her seat of Noosa.


  1. "Electoral Law Ructions in the Queensland Parliament". Antony Green's Election Blog. 21 April 2016. Archived from the original on 1 March 2017. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 Armstrong, Lyn (1997), "'A somewhat rash experiment':Queensland Parliament as a microcosm of society", in Shaw, Barry (ed.), Brisbane:Corridors of Power, Papers, 15, Brisbane: Brisbane History Group Inc, pp. 54–55, ISBN   0-9586469-1-0
  3. 1 2 3 Wanna, John (2003). "Queensland". In Moon, Campbell; Sharman, Jeremy (eds.). Australian Politics and Government: The Commonwealth, the States and Territories. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. pp. 93–94. ISBN   0-521-82507-5. Archived from the original on 2 January 2016.
  4. "Bligh calls early Queensland election". The Courier-Mail. News Limited. 22 February 2009. Retrieved 15 November 2011.
  5. Wanna, John; Tracy Arklay (2010). The Ayes Have it: The History of Queensland Parliament 1957–1989. Canberra: ANU E Press. p. 9. ISBN   978-1-921666-30-8. Archived from the original on 21 March 2018.