Modia Minotaur

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Federal Redistribution

With nearly no fanfare whatsoever, the Australian Electoral Commission recently announced something that had long been pending - a Federal redistribution in both Queensland and NSW, which will require the creation of a new Federal seat in Queensland and the removal of one in NSW. The new enrollment quota will be 85,220 voters per electorate in Queensland and 87,931in NSW. At this early stage, there's no word on who the unlucky NSW pollie might be.

Currently, NSW's largest electorates are Mitchell (96276, safely held since voters wore bell bottoms by Liberal MP Alan Cadman), Sydney (96189, safely held by Labor MP Tanya Plibersek), Eden-Monaro (92397, the famous `bellwether seat', marginally held by Liberal MP Gary Nairn), and Greenway (90988, famously lost to Liberal and Hillsonger Louise Markus in the 2004 election).

The example of Sydney serves to illustrate what an extraordinary political juggling act a redistribution can be. To the south, the seat is surrounded by safe Labor seats - Grayndler (Anthony Albanese), Kingsford Smith (Peter Garrett). Moving north, things get a little stickier - Lowe (marginal Labor, held by John Murphy), North Sydney (Liberal minister Joe Hockey), and of course, as we move to the east, Warringah (Tony Abbott) and Wentworth (Malcolm Turnbull). It's quite amazing to think that people living cheek by jowl would vote so differently ...

Of these seats, Wentworth, Warringah, Grayndler and Kingsford Smith are under quota. Lowe is about right. North Sydney is over. Between them, they would roughly be able to take in the excess voters that would be able to bring Sydney's quota back down to what it needs to be. However, in these, as in many other seats, parties will have to lobby hard to ensure the voters they get come from area most likely to vote for their candidate - or, on the other hand, to argue that the voters leaving their electorate are too likely to give their new electorate an unfair advantage. Like I said - a nasty little juggling act it is in a game where every vote counts.

Which brings me to another rumour doing the rounds. Not so far from Sydney - in fact, almost sharing a border with it - is a seat a few thousand under the margin which could do with a bit of propping up from a neighbouring seat on a safer margin (North Sydney, for example, on 10%, or the aforementioned Mitchell), given that its margin was nearly halved from 7.7% to a worrisome and officially marginal 4.3% in the last Federal Election. Rumour has it that this just might be what could happen to ensure said seat sits on a more respectable margin. The seat? Bennelong - and the sitting member - one John Howard.

9 Comments:

At 11:19 am, Anonymous Guy said...

Hmmm... interesting. The call on Howard is a good one. It will be interesting to see which seat gets the axe.

 
At 6:24 pm, Anonymous Andrew Bartlett said...

Whilst I don't dispute the integrity of the Electoral Commisioners or their redistribution processes, for some reason it often seems to be Independent MPs whose seats get abolished or severly altered. I think Calare and New England are both a bit undersize at the moment and going further in that direction - worth watching to see if one or both of them get wiped out or dramatically re-shaped.

 
At 11:18 am, Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

Very good post, MM. Thanks for bringing this to our attention. It's not really rating a mention anywhere else yet. I'll be linking back here.

Andrew, I agree re New England. We can probably expect a bit of noise from that quarter, too.

 
At 5:55 pm, Blogger Minotaur said...

I imagine independents tend to get a raw deal because they haven't got the heft of a major party to argue or form a case before the Electoral Commission. (That being said, Clover Moore seemed to receive surprisingly favourable boundaries when her State seat was redistributed recently).

If it was down to Calare or New England, my money would be on New England. Get rid of Tony Windsor? I can hear the Nats salivating from here ...

 
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