Facts and figures about Australia's 2010 general election

09:40, August 21, 2010      

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The following are some key facts and figures about Australia's general election for the 43rd Parliament on Saturday, Aug. 21, 2010.

Australia has a bicameral parliament. All 150 seats in the House of Representatives, or the lower house, and 40 of the 76- member Senate, or the upper house, are up for election.

The political party, which has the most Members in the House of Representatives, becomes the governing party. Its leader becomes Prime Minister and other ministers are appointed from among the party's Members and Senators.

Each member of the House of Representatives is elected to represent an area known as an electoral division. Each electoral division within a State or Territory contains about the same number of people on the electoral roll. The electors in each division elect one person to represent them in the House of Representatives.

Senators are elected by a preferential voting system, known as proportional representation. Candidates for the Senate stand for a State or Territory. There are a total of 76 Senators: 12 for each State and two for each Territory. Senators for each State are elected for a six year term. Senators for each Territory are elected for a term equivalent to the duration of the House of Representatives.

The six year terms of the 36 new state senators will commence on July 1, 2011.

The Australian government has been controlled by the Labor Party led by Prime Minister Julia Gillard since June 2010. The previous Labor leader was Kevin Rudd, who was ousted by Gillard in a special caucus meeting on June 24, 2010. Labor Party headed by former prime minister Kevin Rudd ousted John Howard's Liberal government in November 2007.

Gillard is competing with Tony Abbott, Leader of the Opposition in the Australian House of Representatives, and federal leader of the center-right Liberal Party of Australia, for the next prime- ministership.

The Australian Labor Party currently holds 83 seats. The Coalition holds 64 seats (nine Nationals and 55 Liberals). The remaining three seats are held by independents. The opposition party needs to win an extra 17 seats to get back into government.

Voting in Australia is compulsory. It means that every Australian citizen (18 years or older) is required by law to enroll and vote. If a person does not vote and is unable to provide a "valid and sufficient" reason, a penalty is imposed. Compulsory voting at federal elections was introduced in 1924.

Polling day is always on a Saturday. Polling places open between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. local time and are usually located in local schools, church halls or public buildings.

A total of 1,198 candidates have nominated to run in the 2010 federal election. This national figure includes 349 Senate candidates for the 40 Senate vacancies and 849 candidates for the 150 House of Representatives seats across Australia, according to figures from Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).

According to AEC, a total of 14,030,528 people are enrolled to vote in the 2010 federal election. Following the announcement of the federal election 85,996 additions to the electoral roll were received before the deadline for enrollment. These figures contributed to an overall net increase of 385,455 since the close of rolls for the 2007 federal election, when 13,645,073 were enrolled to vote.

At the time up to 100,000 people could have missed out on the chance to vote.

First votes were cast on Aug. 11 at a remote mobile polling booth at Gunbalanya, a remote Aboriginal community on the eastern border of the Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory of Australia. In the two weeks leading up to the election day, 38 remote mobile polling teams were assigned to visit more than 400 communities nationally to ensure that Australians living in geographically remote areas have the opportunity to take part in the country's democratic process.



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