PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION SOCIETY OF AUSTRALIA

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2014-04-13

 


The Gregory Fractional Transfer

 
 

* Surplus Transfer by Random Sampling: Australia's first use of proportional representation for parliamentary polls was under The Electoral Act 1896 (60 Vict. No. 49) of Tasmania, where the transfer of surpluses used the same inferior random sampling system included in the 1948 law that instituted PR for the Australian Senate, which continued to apply for Senate polls until 1983. That primitive random sampling system continues in use for New South Wales local government polls and for NSW Legislative Council polls. Random sampling still applies in lower house polls in the Irish Republic and in Malta.

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Original Gregory Fractional Transfer: Tasmania replaced its random sampling above with the original Gregory Fractional Transfer (see Clauses 2.3 and 4.3 at this hyperlink) in 1907. That system is used to transfer surplus votes that arise from first preferences, and the last parcel of ballot-papers transferred in the case of other surpluses, by examing all such ballot-papers, and transferring a fractional part of their vote value to the candidate indicated as the next available preference. Its first inclusion in Australian legislation was in Schedule 4 of The Electoral Act 1907 (7 Edw. VII No. 6) of Tasmania, which provided, for the first time, that all the electoral districts for the election of members to the House of Assembly were to be multi-member districts, using proportional representation, with the Droop quota replacing the Hare quota. Those features of that 1907 law remain part of the Hare-Clark system used in Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory. It is named after its original proponent in 1880, Mr J B Gregory A good account of it, which mentions J B Gregory, of Melbourne, is shown in Paragraph 20 of the official report of Tasmaniaís first state-wide Hare-Clark election in 1909. A 2003 paper by David Farrell and Ian McAllister ably compares the Original Gregory Fractional Transfer with later variants.

 

* Unweighted Inclusive Gregory Fractional Transfer: This first modification of the Original Gregory Fractional Transfer was introduced in 1983 to count Senate elections. Replacement of the inferior random sampling system above was advocated by the Proportional Representation Society of Australia, but the method prescribed for that preplacement was, as shown by PRSA's letter to Liberal Senator Alan Missen, which he had incorporated in Hansard, not supported, as a Weighted Inclusive Grergory Transfer should have been prescribed instead. The Unweighted Inclusive Gregory Transfer, which provides for transfers from all ballot-papers, rather than just from first preference and last parcel papers only, as the Original Gregory Fractional Transfer does, does that with inappropriate weightings. It has since been also adopted in Victoria for its Legislative Council and for its PR municipal elections.

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Weighted Inclusive Gregory Fractional Transfer: The second, later modification, which the Proportional Representation Society of Australia considers should replace that Unweighted Inclusive Gregory Transfer, is the Weighted Inclusive Gregory Transfer, which now applies for Western Australian Legislative Council polls. See UK rules for using this transfer. The PRSA's Victoria-Tasmania Branch has also recognized the superior principles of the Meek system of PR counting in regard to transfers.

 

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J B Gregory: An article in The Argus in Melbourne dated 13th March 1879 refers to a John Burslem Gregory in attendance at the Marquis of Normanbyís Vice-Regal Levee. An article in The Argus in Melbourne dated 22nd November 1880, which mentions J B Gregoryís advocacy of preferential voting, refers to him as J B Gregory LL. B. It is likely to have been the same J B Gregory (Page 39) that, in 1884, was one of three men who raised the idea that eventually led to Wilson's Promontory in Victoria becoming a National Park. Mr Gregory was, with Professor Edward Nanson, an active member of the then Senate of the University of Melbourne, as seen by an article in The Argus in Melbourne dated 23rd November 1886, and other references. He died in Berkeley, California, USA, on 21st January 1910.

 

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Further information on Hare-Clark is in the Tasmanian Section of A Brief History of the PRSA and its Purpose.

 

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