New South Wales redistribution: take two

The New South Wales boundaries have now been finalised as well. Geographically dramatic changes have been made to the large electorates in the west after the original proposal had Parkes occupying the entire north-western quarter of the state. It has now traded in more than two-thirds of its total area as originally proposed for the Wellington and Mid-West Regional shires to the east of Dubbo. The state’s north-western vastness will instead be divided between Calare and Farrer, the latter of which loses the Murrumbidgee shire to Riverina. All affected electorates are safe for the Coalition except independent MP Peter Andren’s seat of Calare, whose centre of gravity has moved still further from his home base of Orange.

Elsewhere, a small amount of rejigging has been done around the junction of Paterson, Newcastle and Hunter; changes have been made to the boundary between Parramatta and Reid after the original redistribution deprived the former of the Parramatta town centre; and various adjustments have been made affecting the boundaries of Wentworth, Kingsford-Smith and Sydney. The comments thread of the previous entry contains much productive discussion of the likely effect of these changes.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

180 comments on “New South Wales redistribution: take two”

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  1. Makin’s not ‘inner city’ – it’s very much outer suburban mortgage belt. The AEC classifies it as ‘outer metropolitan’. And if Family First’s recent state performance is any guide (7-8% in the relevant state electorates), it’s pretty socially conservative. But since Trish Draper’s retiring (I think), it should be an easier target for Labor than Wentworth, or anything else in NSW except Macquarie. Only question is how much Draper’s taking-the-boyfriend-to-Europe thing depressed her vote last time, and whether the Liberals can recoup enough of it to offset her lost personal vote.

  2. totally correct Zach, bad example, should have said Moreton. The overall point is that in the seats classified as Outer Metropolitan, overall there has been a massive swing in the last ten years towards the Liberal Party, I believe an unrecoverable swing, certainly while Howard is at Kirribilli House.

  3. Moreton isn’t inner metro – it goes from Yeronga (old very established but not inner city suburb) out to Logan. The end near Logan isn’t inner city at all. It’s a mixed seat.

  4. Don’t forget most of these outer suburban morgage-belt seats were held by Labor with big margins during the 80’s and 90’s, and swung massively against them in 1996 due to the economy. This is not Liberal heartland, any more than it was Labor heartland during the Hawke years. They are swinging seats that will all go 10-15% towards Labor when they eventually win office.

    Inner city seats just don’t swing: Labor has got a better chance of getting a 10% swing in a Hughes or a Casey than a 3% swing in Wentworth or Higgins

  5. The AEC gives Moreton a “demographic rating” of Inner Metropolitan. Admittedly it’s arbitrary.

    Given it’s small margin (further reduced by the redistribution) and with Oxley, Rankin & Griffith counting amongst its neighbours, Moreton does seem like a seat that should be eminently winnable for Labor.

    I’m very much with Patrick in this debate. Labor took three seats off the Liberals in 2004. Adelaide, Hindmarsh and Parramatta. What do they have in common?

  6. Moreton lies wholely or almost wholely in the Brisbane City Council boundaries, which is the historical core of greater Brisbane. The councils surrounding Brisbane: Logan, Redlands, Pine Rivers and Caboolture, are part of greater Brisbane but have only been suburbanised probably in the last 40-50 years. From that point of view Moreton is not an outer urban seat. However, it’s certainly not an “inner metro” seat as the seat of Brisbane or Griffith might be. I’d call it an “established suburban” seat – as I’d classify Petrie and Bonner.

    The AEC categories aren’t necessarily very informative.

    Moreton should be eminently winnable for Labor, if the “swing was on”.

  7. The categories are these:

    Inner metropolitan: located in a capital city and comprising well-established, built-up suburbs.
    Outer metropolitan: located in capital cities and containing areas of more recent urban expansion.
    Provincial: divisions with a majority of enrolment in major provincial cities.
    Rural: divisions without a majority of enrolment in major provincial cities.

    I don’t know how useful they are in analysis as they’re so broad!

  8. I think those ‘wraparound’ seats in outer metropolitan NSW, like Macarthur, Lindsay and Hughes, have changed since the Hawke-Keating years. So they may be tougher for Labor to win back. Also, Pat Farmer is a popular local member.

  9. marcus

    Those “Outer subrub mortgage seats” that was held by Labor by big margins 20 years ago, are different to the seats that are held by Liberals with big margin today.

    Today those seats contains people with a large mortgage, large income, who owns their own land, they are no longer the seats with battler they were 20 years ago, these are now suburbs of the upper class, these people often owns their own business, are helped by Howard’s economic policies, ie IR law and perceived lower interest rate, it will be very difficult for Labor to win these back, Labor are more likely to win seats like Bennelong, than Lindsey, MacCather etc in the next election

  10. I wonder… How sensitive are people in the outer suburb mortgage seats (Lindsay, Macarthur, etc) to an economic downturn – or even just a soft patch? .

  11. interesting point tijawi, i think that, if anything, an economic downturn would swing the outer metropolitan seats even further behind the Liberals as the “safer” economic option and would also damage Labor’s chances in inner metropolitan seats. My feeling is that there are many voters in those inner seats who would like to punish the Liberals for their social conservatism as long as they feel secure about the economy.

    Although I would also say that Lindsay is a very different seat to Macarthur. Lindsay is a very popular local Liberal member in what is really a Labor seat. Macarthur also has a popular local but it is now clearly at the very least a moderately safe Liberal seat.

  12. Tom – the ACT was allocated three seats for the 1996 election. It reverted back to two following that election and its entitlement has continued to fall steadily backwards since.

    Canberra and Fraser were won with TPP figures of 57+%. The new seat of Namadji (based on Tuggeranong) was a tighter affair. Labor won with just 51.5% tpp. Although given that this was a Coalition landslide election, we could perhaps think of this third seat as still being “reasonably safe” for Labor. In that it falied to fall despite a 9.4% pro-Coalition swing. (Albeit these suburbs fell within the seat of Canberra prior to that election, which the Liberal Party gained in the 1995 by-election. But then, that’s the nature of the by-election beast.)

  13. Further to that, I think the 1997 ACT redistribution was a lost opportunity. Much as the last-in/first-out made sense in ditching the one-term old Namadji, I think Fraser should have gone for three reasons.

    Firstly, and most importantly, mightn’t they want to free up the name Fraser for a future Victorian division? Secondly, it would allow the seat of Canberra to include the Canberra CDB. And thirdly, retaining Namadji would have been consistent with the goal of keeping Aboriginal names.

  14. David Walsh – agree with you on all three points for retaining the Namadji over Fraser. Also, the AEC’s ostensible goal of keeping Aboriginal names seems to be looking a little tattered lately; Gwydir, Namadji and Corinella were all abolished over the past 12 years. Two of these are also Federation seats (though Corinella was resurrected after 83 years).

    To add to another discussion, about Qld surely getting (yet) another seat at the next redistribution. Is it possible that this seat might come at the expense of the NT (i.e., re-merged into a single seat) rather than Vic or SA or WA?

  15. The House of Representatives is approximatly twice (give or take the distribution of partial quotas among the states) the number of state Senators ((6×12=72)x2=144) plus the Territory Members (currently 4) (they come from the Commonwealth power to represent the Territories as it sees fit).
    That 144 is divided by the population of all the states to get the quota and then the population of each state is divided by the quota and each state then gets the number of seats it reaches the quota for plus if the fraction left over is more than half the state gets another seat. This leads to to more seats (but in theory could lead to the same or less) than the 144 for the states as does the minimum of five per original state.
    The Territorial Members are Extras and so cannot be lost to any state even though they use the same quotas (legislative prop up of the Northern Teritory excluded).

  16. Thanks Tom, I’d forgotten this crucial detail. So if NT had voted in favour of statehood back in 98, then it would have eaten into the number of seats allotted to the rest of the states. Or does this only apply to the 6 original states?

  17. Only original states need to have a mininium of 5 house of reps seats and I think 12 senators. If the NT became a state I would just have 1 to 2 House of Reps seats and I am not sure how many senators, could be as much as 12 or as low as say 4.

  18. To dovif:

    You look at the margin last time in Lindsay and redistrubtion which has made the seat more marginal. If Jackie Kelly were to retire and the Labor party ran a good campgain, they can pick it up, if there is a big swing to Labor in NSW, Bennelong, Wentworth, Dobell, Parramatta (on new boundaries), Eden-Monaro, Page (If Ian Causley retires) and maybe Paterson, Cowper and Gilmore if the swing is huge.

  19. From memory (so take it with a grain of salt) the NT was offered three Senators at the time. What I was asking is if the NT became a state then do its MPs no longer qualify as ‘Extra’s?

  20. If the Northern Territory becomes a state then its Senators become part of the Senate in terms of the “House of Representatives shall have as near as practial twice the number mebers as there are Senators” so the size of the House increases.

    The offer of three senators would probably have been per half Senate election as statehood would mean that the group of Senators has to be divided into half and split in normal Senate elections.

    If they got 6 then the HoR would increase by a as near as practical to 12 (but minus the 2 seperat territory seats) or if they got a full 12 then it would increase by about 24 (but minus the 2 seperat territory seats) giving a totals (incl. ACT2-3) of 159-61 and 171-3 respectivly.

  21. I wonder how the districts and seats would be distributed if Hare-Clarke was introduced in the House of Represenatives?

    The only sure thing would be Tasmania becoming one electorate (which might cause a slight problem at state level) in which the outcome would probably be Liberal 2, Labor 2-3 ans Greens 0-1.

  22. In this context, Gwydir is both Welsh and Aboriginal. From the AEC website: “Named after the Gwydir River which was discovered by Allan Cunningham in 1827 and named after Lord Gwydir. Coincidentally Gwydir is also an Aboriginal name meaning ‘river with red banks'”

  23. Sounds highly improbable to me, like the dozen or so different derivations of “Canberra.” In any case the seat is named for the river, and the river is named for Lord Gwydir, who took his title from a castle in Wales. So just as Calare should be pronounced “Kalari”, Gwydir should be pronounced “Gwith-eer.”

  24. “The NT hated the offer of three senators – they wanted (and want) 12 like the other states – that is not going to change”

    “You know, I could have swore that “Canberra” is an Aboriginal word for “Where fun comes to die”.”

    Canberra can’t be all that bad. Territorians must be desperate to get ther ‘cos if the NT were to be granted 12 senate seats just about every non-indigenous permanent resident would be either a senator or on the staff of one.

  25. If NT got 12 Senat seats then there would be Aboriginal Senators The ALP would stand at least one in it winable 3 in each half Senate election and CLP would probably do the same and a similar thing would happen with the representation of women.

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