The Legislative Assembly of Queensland is the sole chamber of the unicameral Parliament of Queensland. Elections are held every four years. Voting is by the full-preferential voting form of the alternative vote system; the Assembly has 93 members, who have used the letters MP after their names since 2000. There is the same population in each electorate; 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, moving from unfixed three-year terms to fixed four-year terms; the Legislative Assembly was the lower house of a typical Westminster-style bicameral parliament. 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.
It consisted of 26 members from 16 electorates, nearly half of whom were squatters. Early sessions dealt with issues of land, railways, public works, immigration and gold discoveries. In April 1864, Australia's first Hansard was produced, it was the second Hansard to be made in the Commonwealth, after Nova Scotia in 1855. That year saw member numbers increased to 32, by 1868—as more redistributions occurred—the number grew to 42. Members were not paid until 1886 excluding the working class from state politics; the Assembly was elected under the'first-past-the-post' system 1860 to 1892. From 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. In 1942 the plurality system was reintroduced; the Labor government 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 used. After 1912, electorates elected only a single member to the Assembly. 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. From 1948 until the reforms following the end of the Bjelke-Petersen era, Queensland used an electoral zoning system, 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 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 fewer electorates.
The Queensland "gerrymander", first introduced by the Labor Party government of Ned Hanlon in 1949 used a series of electoral zones based on their distance from Brisbane. Queensland was divided into three zones—the metropolitan zone, the provincial cities zone and the rural zone. While the number of electors in each seat in a zone was 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 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 under Frank Nicklin came to power, which, as discussed above modified the voting system to introduce preferential voting, to take advantage of Labor's split, it separated the provincial cities from their hinterlands.
The hinterlands were added to the rural zone. As the divisions in the ALP abated in the early 1970s, tensions in the conservative coalition grew, the conservative government, now led by Joh Bjelke-Petersen, modified the zoning system to add a fourth zone—a remote zone, comprising seats with 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 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 referendums—one of, for the adoption of fair electoral systems around
Queensland is the second-largest and third-most populous state in the Commonwealth of Australia. Situated in the north-east of the country, it is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Pacific Ocean. To its north is the Torres Strait, with Papua New Guinea located less than 200 km across it from the mainland; the state is the world's sixth-largest sub-national entity, with an area of 1,852,642 square kilometres. As of 15 May 2018, Queensland has a population of 5,000,000, concentrated along the coast and in the state's South East; the capital and largest city in the state is Australia's third-largest city. Referred to as the "Sunshine State", Queensland is home to 10 of Australia's 30 largest cities and is the nation's third-largest economy. Tourism in the state, fuelled by its warm tropical climate, is a major industry. Queensland was first inhabited by Torres Strait Islanders.
The first European to land in Queensland was Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon in 1606, who explored the west coast of the Cape York Peninsula near present-day Weipa. In 1770, Lieutenant James Cook claimed the east coast of Australia for the Kingdom of Great Britain; the colony of New South Wales was founded in 1788 by Governor Arthur Phillip at Sydney. Queensland was explored in subsequent decades until the establishment of a penal colony at Brisbane in 1824 by John Oxley. Penal transportation ceased in 1839 and free settlement was allowed from 1842; the state was named in honour of Queen Victoria, who on 6 June 1859 signed Letters Patent separating the colony from New South Wales. Queensland Day is celebrated annually statewide on 6 June. Queensland was one of the six colonies which became the founding states of Australia with federation on 1 January 1901; the history of Queensland spans thousands of years, encompassing both a lengthy indigenous presence, as well as the eventful times of post-European settlement.
The north-eastern Australian region was explored by Dutch and French navigators before being encountered by Lieutenant James Cook in 1770. The state has witnessed frontier warfare between European settlers and Indigenous inhabitants, as well as the exploitation of cheap Kanaka labour sourced from the South Pacific through a form of forced recruitment known at the time as "blackbirding"; the Australian Labor Party has its origin as a formal organisation in Queensland and the town of Barcaldine is the symbolic birthplace of the party. June 2009 marked the 150th anniversary of its creation as a separate colony from New South Wales. A rare record of early settler life in north Queensland can be seen in a set of ten photographic glass plates taken in the 1860s by Richard Daintree, in the collection of the National Museum of Australia; the Aboriginal occupation of Queensland is thought to predate 50,000 BC via boat or land bridge across Torres Strait, became divided into over 90 different language groups.
During the last ice age Queensland's landscape became more arid and desolate, making food and other supplies scarce. This led to the world's first seed-grinding technology. Warming again made the land hospitable, which brought high rainfall along the eastern coast, stimulating the growth of the state's tropical rainforests. In February 1606, Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon landed near the site of what is now Weipa, on the western shore of Cape York; this was the first recorded landing of a European in Australia, it marked the first reported contact between European and Aboriginal Australian people. The region was explored by French and Spanish explorers prior to the arrival of Lieutenant James Cook in 1770. Cook claimed the east coast under instruction from King George III of the United Kingdom on 22 August 1770 at Possession Island, naming Eastern Australia, including Queensland,'New South Wales'; the Aboriginal population declined after a smallpox epidemic during the late 18th century. In 1823, John Oxley, a British explorer, sailed north from what is now Sydney to scout possible penal colony sites in Gladstone and Moreton Bay.
At Moreton Bay, he found the Brisbane River. He established a settlement at what is now Redcliffe; the settlement known as Edenglassie, was transferred to the current location of the Brisbane city centre. Edmund Lockyer discovered outcrops of coal along the banks of the upper Brisbane River in 1825. In 1839 transportation of convicts was ceased, culminating in the closure of the Brisbane penal settlement. In 1842 free settlement was permitted. In 1847, the Port of Maryborough was opened as a wool port; the first free immigrant ship to arrive in Moreton Bay was the Artemisia, in 1848. In 1857, Queensland's first lighthouse was built at Cape Moreton. A war, sometimes called a "war of extermination", erupted between Aborigines and settlers in colonial Queensland; the Frontier War was notable for being the most bloody in Australia due to Queensland's larger pre-contact indigenous population when compared to the other Australian colonies. About 1,500 European settlers and their alli