Electoral systems of the Australian states and territories
Electoral systems for the legislatures of the individual Australian states and territories are broadly similar to the electoral system used in federal elections in Australia.
When the Australian colonies were granted responsible government in the 19th century, the constitutions of each colony introduced bicameral parliaments, each of which was based on the contemporaneous version of the Westminster system. In these parliaments, a lower house (often known as the legislative assembly) was composed of multiple single-member, geographical constituencies. Suffrage was extended only to adult males, with some states including a property criterion. In Queensland and Western Australia the vote was specifically denied to people of indigenous Australian descent. Despite these forms of discrimination, the electorates of Australian lower houses were, paradoxically, socially broader than those existing in most other countries at the time. However, in each colony an upper house (usually known as the legislative council) continued to be composed of members that were nominated by the governor of each colony and/or were elected under a restricted franchise that usually included a property qualification. This ensured that each upper house continued to be unrepresentative and dominated by wealthy landholders.
Before or soon after Federation in 1901, women of European descent received voting rights, at different times in each Colony/State. While the abolition of the upper houses was often proposed, the only instance in which this occurred was Queensland, which became unicameral in 1922 (when the Legislative Council of Queensland was abolished). Gradually the various upper houses became directly-elected and property qualifications were removed. Indigenous Australians received the right to vote at different times in different states. In 1964, Western Australia removed restrictions on the voting rights of indigenous people and abolished the property qualification for the Legislative Council of Western Australia. The following year Queensland became the last state to lift restrictions on people voting, based on indigenous descent.