History Of The Voting Franchise In Australia

This table shows changes in the voting franchise in Australia since the nineteenth century.

Changes In The Franchise
Year Change
1843
Men with 200 pounds free-hold or 20 pounds annual value householders were enfranchised.
1850
Men with 100 pounds free-hold, 10 pounds annual value householders, 3 year lease of 10 pounds annual value, or depasturing licence were allowed to vote.
1856
Men over 21 years allowed to vote in South Australian elections.
1857
Men over 21 years allowed to vote in Victorian elections.
1858
Men over 21 years allowed to vote in New South Wales elections.
1872
Men over 21 years allowed to vote in Queensland elections.
1893
Men over 21 years allowed to vote in Western Australian elections.
1894
Women over 21 years allowed to vote in South Australian elections.
1896
Men over 21 years allowed to vote in Tasmanian elections.
1899
Women over 21 years allowed to vote in Western Australian elections.
1901
State franchises applied at the first Federal election (NSW, VIC, QLD, TAS men over 21 years; SA and WA men and women over 21 years).
1902

Most men and women over 21 years allowed to vote at federal elections.

However, Aboriginal natives of Australia, Asia, Africa or the Pacific Islands except New Zealand were excluded from enrolment and voting unless they already had the franchise at State level.

Women over 21 years allowed to vote in NSW elections.

1903
Women over 21 years allowed to vote in Tasmanian elections.
1905
Women over 21 years allowed to vote in Queensland elections.
1908
Women over 21 years allowed to vote in Victorian elections.
1920
Nationality act 1920 bestowed upon British subjects ‘all political and other rights’ but South Sea Islanders still ineligible to vote despite being British subjects.
1925
Natives of British India living in Australia allowed to vote.
1949
Aboriginal people were given the right to entrol and vote at federal elections provided they were entitled to enrol for State elections or had served in the Defence Forces.
1962
All Aboriginal people became entitled to enrol and vote at Federal elections and referendums.
1973
The qualifying age for enrolment, voting and candidature for all federal elections was lowered from 21 years to 18.
1984

Enrolment and voting for Aboriginal people became compulsory.

Franchise qualification changed to Australian Citizenship.

British subjects on the roll immediately before January 26, 1984 retained enrolment rights.

Source: Australian Electoral Commission Publications.

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