NSW redistribution thread

A thread for discussion of the proposed new federal boundaries for New South Wales, which can be viewed here. Laurie Ferguson’s seat of Reid is the one for the chop. Antony Green’s analysis is here. My own overview will appear later.

UPDATE (10/8/09): Here it is.


The abolished electorate of Reid, located in the western suburbs from Homebush Bay west to Westmead and south to Rookwood, has been carved up three ways: 46,300 (44 per cent) of its voters go to Parramatta, 33,300 (32 per cent go) to McMahon, as Lowe is now named, and 26,000 (25 per cent go) to Blaxland. The transfer to Parramatta solves that electorate’s identity problem, the boundary between Parramatta and Reid currently running through a town centre that will now sit at the heart of the electorate bearing its name. Parramatta also gains from Reid areas extending eastwards through the Parramatta River and its surrounds to Rydalmere, and southwards to Merrylands and Granville. This is great news for Labor’s Parramatta MP, Julie Owens, whose margin (by Antony Green’s reckoning) is up from 6.9 per cent to 9.5 per cent – provided Laurie Ferguson doesn’t have designs on her seat. McMahon gains the area south from the nature reserves along the Parramatta River through Silverwater and Newington to Rookwood, boosting the margin there to 10.4 per cent. Since there had been murmurings about the future of Lowe MP John “Beef Stroganoff” Murphy in any case, this seat would presumably be the logical target for Ferguson’s predations. Blaxland gains Reid’s southern reaches of Guildford, South Granville and Berala, and presents an unlikely target for Ferguson given the strength of sitting member Jason Clare’s support in the Right.

These changes have resulted in knock-on effects in the electorates south to the Georges River. Watson moves north into areas vacated by the reorientation of Lowe/McMahon and Blaxland to fill the void in Reid. It gains the southern part of Lowe, accounting for an area bisected by the Hume Highway through Enfield and including the southern parts of Strathfield and Croydon to its north and northern Bedfield and Croydon Park to its south. This accounts for 25,200 voters, or 27 per cent of the previous enrolment of Lowe. From Blaxland, Watson gains 18,900 voters in Greenacre and Mount Lewis, or 19.5 per cent of the old Blaxland’s enrolment. There is a further gain 3,900 voters just south of this area from Banks, at Punchbowl. This in turn requires Watson to cede substantial territories to its southern neighbours: Barton, which gains 27,900 voters from Kingsgrove east to Bexley North and Earlwood, and Banks, which gains 18,700 voters at Hurstville and a sliver of territory at Narwee and Riverwood south of the South Western Motorway. Watson thus carries over only 52 per cent of the voters from the division as previously constituted.

Barton’s gains from Watson are counter-balanced by the transfer to Banks of the western part of its territory on the north shore of the Georges River, accounting for 27,000 voters from Connells Point, Kyle Bay and Blakehurst north to Hurstville. Banks’s gains from Barton and Watson amount to an eastward shift, which is manifested at the opposite end by transfers to Hughes (22,900 votes from Milperra south through Panania to Georges River, home to 22,900 voters) and Blaxland (15,100 voters in an area from Bankstown Aerodrome east through Condell Park to Bankstown itself). The effect has been to reduce the Labor margin in Banks to single figures, from 11.1 per cent to 9.6 per cent. Blaxland’s gains in north and south are counterbalanced by losses in east (18,900 voters in Greenacre and Mount Lewis to Watson, as previously mentioned) and west (20,200 voters in Lansvale and eastern Cabramatta to Fowler), changing the electorate’s orientation on the map from horizontal and vertical and leaving it carrying over only 60 per cent of its existing voters.

Hughes pays for its gain from Banks with two transfers to its eastern neighbour Cook, around Como on Georges River (4900 voters) and Sutherland further south (3400 voters), one to its north-western neighbour Fowler (5600 voters at Liverpool), and the loss of urban Heathcote and the adjoining national park of the same name to Cunningham in the south (4,900 voters). The Banks gain in particular has contributed to a small but potentially crucial change in the Liberal margin, which is cut from 2.2 per cent 1.1 per cent. Fowler loses the outskirts areas west of Kemps Creek – over half of its geographic area – accounting for 9500 voters at Wallacia, Warragamba, Luddenham and Greendale, which now form the northern tip of Macarthur. It also loses 10,800 voters at Cecil Park to Prospect in the north and 1500 at Austral to Werriwa in the south, while making the aforementioned gains from Blaxland and Hughes to the east. Prospect’s gain from Fowler is counterbalanced at its opposite end by a neat shift of the northern boundary from the Western Motorway to the Great Western Highway, moving 3500 voters to Chifley. Its eastern tip at South Wentworthville, containing 5400 voters, is transferred to Parramatta. Werriwa’s gain from Fowler is counterbalanced by the loss of 4300 around Blairmount and Blair Athol to Macarthur in the south.

Parramatta’s gains from Prospect and particularly Reid are counterbalanced by losses in the west and central north. The latter area accounts for a transfer for 9500 voters around Winston Hills to Mitchell, bringing the Liberal margin there down from 11.6 per cent to 9.6 per cent. The area west of Old Windsor Road and Binalong Road, accounting for 44,400 voters in Kings Langley, Lalor Park, Seven Hills, Toongabbie and Girraween, goes to Greenway in a dramatic redrawing of that electorate. A further strip of territory immediately to the west is transferred to Greenway from Chifley, accounting for 9700 voters from Blacktown south to Prospect. All that remains of the original Greenway is its area closest to the city, defined by the Blacktown-Richmond Railway in the west and Old Windsor Road in the east, with Marayong, Acacia Gardens, Parklea, Glenwood, Stanhope Gardens and Riverstone in between. This area contains 44,900 voters, only 45 per cent of those in Greenway as currently constituted. The area west of the railway, including 9,700 voters at Shanes Park, Marsden Park and Colebee, now forms the northern end of Chifley. Further west again, on the opposite bank of South Creek, Londonderry and its 4000 voters now form the northern end of Lindsay, reducing the Labor margin there from 6.8 per cent to 6.3 per cent. Beyond that to the north, the outskirsts and semi-rural territory which previously made up most of Greenway’s geographic area has been transferred to Macquarie. Greenway thus goes from being a Liberal seat with a margin of 4.5 per cent to a Labor seat with a margin of 5.6 per cent, presenting Liberal member Louise Markus with a redistribution as bad as her last one was good.

Mitchell’s gain from Parramatta in the south is counterbalanced by the loss to Berowra in the north of its area beyond Cattal Creek, containing 8600 voters from Glenhaven north-west to Annangrove. Berowra also gains a small strip of the otherwise unchanged Bennelong, adding 1900 voters north of North Rocks Road and Plympton Road in Beecroft. The former change helps push the Liberal margin over double figures, from 8.9 per cent to 10.3 per cent. Its gains are counterbalanced by the transfer of 6600 voters around Normanhurst in the south-east to Bradfield, which also gains 7000 voters at East Killara and East Lindfield from its south-eastern neighbour Warringah. The latter transfer forms part of a rationalisation of Warringah’s western boundary along Middle Harbour Creek and Sugarloaf Bay, which also moves Castle Cove and Middle Cove due south of the Berowra transfer to North Sydney. Warringah also loses 3500 voters to the otherwise unchanged Mackellar at Forrestville on the eastern bank of Middle Harbour Creek, adjoining the East Killara/East Lindfield transfer to Bradfield. North Sydney gains the southern part of Bradfield around Chatswood, adding 13,800 voters, while losing to Warringah 2700 voters in a strip between Middle Harbour and Sydney Harbour from Willoughby Bay to Neutral Bay and Cremorne Point. Liberal margins in Warringah and North Sydney have both been garnished slightly, from 5.4 per cent to 5.0 per cent in the former case and 9.5 per cent to 8.8 per cent in the latter.

The southern shore and inner city seats have undergone very little change. Malcolm Turnbull’s base in Wentworth has gone untouched. Its southern neighbour, Peter Garrett’s Kingsford Smith, loses 3600 voters in its north-western corner at Rosebury to Sydney, which is otherwise unchanged. Sydney’s western neighbour, Grayndler, absorbs 1200 voters in northern Croydon from Lowe, allowing Grayndler to cover the entire municipality of Ashfield.


The area Macquarie absorbs from Greenway extends from Richmond in Sydney’s north-western outskirts north through Kurrajong to the unpopulated Parr State Conservation Area and populated McDonald River valley, and accounts for 43,600 voters. Just as the loss of this area has been devastating for the Liberals in Greenway, so has its gain all but eliminated Labor’s buffer in Macquarie, from 7.0 per cent to 0.1 per cent. Macquarie maintains the Blue Mountains municipal area but loses to Calare its interior territory, including 41,900 voters in and around Lithgow, Oberon and Bathurst, which returns to Calare populous areas it lost at the previous election. In doing so it again makes Calare a marginal seat, as it had been when Labor held it throughout the Hawke-Keating years. The Nationals margin is now 1.2 per cent, compared with 12.1 per cent at the election. Calare retains 41,400 voters in Orange, the neighbouring Cabonne and Blayney municipalities and the northern part of the Bathurst Regional Council area. It also absorbs the area of Parkes nearest to Sydney, namely the southern half of Wellington Shire Council (including Mumbi and Neurea) and most of Mid-Western Regional Council (Mudgee and Gulgong), home to 14,500 voters. The unpopulated remainder of Mid-Western, beyond Bylong Valley to the east, is transferred to Hunter.

Parkes in turn absorbs from Calare its expansive interior areas, resulting in a dramatic increase in its already considerable geographic area and a corresponding reduction in Calare’s. This area runs from Forbes and Parkes out to Narromine, Warren, Condobelin, Nyngan, Cobar, Bourke, Brewarrina and Wilcannia, and contains 34,700 voters. A further area to the south, containing 2,600 voters in Shire of Carrathool and the southern half of the Shire of Lachlan, goes to Riverina, while 11,800 voters to the east of this area in the shires of Weddin and Cowra go to Hume. The area maintained by Parkes extends from Dubbo and Wellington north through the shires of Gilgandra, Warrumbungle, Coonamble and Narrabri to the Queensland border at Walgett, Moree Plains and Gwydir. Parkes loses the 8200 voters in the Shire of Gunnedah to its eastern neighbour, New England, which in turn loses 1100 voters in the north-eastern part of the Shire of Tenterfield to Page. This adjustment has cut the Labor margin in Page from 2.4 per cent to 2.2 per cent.

The latter amendment notwithstanding, the north coast electorates of Richmond, Page and Cowper have been little affected. Richmond is unchanged, reflecting ongoing population growth around Tweed Heads. A salient south of Grafton containing 250 voters has been transferrred from Cowper to Page for the sake of neatness. Cowper’s southern neighbour, Lyne, gains 3800 voters in the Shire of Gloucester at its interior southern end from Paterson. Paterson’s boundary with Hunter in the city of Maitland has been amended to conform with New England Highway, adding East Maitland on the highway’s north-eastern side, and to the north of the city it gains an area around Hillsborough and Maitland Vale north of the Hunter River. The changes account for 2300 voters between them, counterbalancing Hunter‘s gains from Parkes and cutting the Liberal margin in Paterson from 1.5 per cent to 0.4 per cent. Paterson loses to Newcastle the area from the Paterson River and Four Mile Creek south to Raymond Terrace Road, including the town of Duckenfield and 530 voters. Newcastle loses to Charlton an area of Lambton south of Newcastle Road and west of Croudace Street, which includes Newcastle Private Hospital and 1200 voters in a residential area to the north. There is no other change to Charlton, and no change at all to its coastal neighbour Shortland. Further south again, Dobell is unchanged except for the loss of 157 voters in its interior area of McPherson State Forest and Mangrove Creek Dam, which is transferred to the otherwise unchanged Robertson.

In the interior, Farrer remains unchanged, continuing to cover the entirety of the state’s western border and extending along the Victorian border as far as Albury and the adjoining Shire of Greater Hume. Neighbouring Riverina now extends to the Victorian border by gaining the interior areas of Eden-Monaro, the shires of Tumut and Tumbarumba (10,100 voters), and also has the previously discussed gain from Calare. This is counterbalanced by the loss of the Shire of Cootamundra and its 5500 voters to Hume. Eden-Monaro gains the 13,900 voters in and around Batemans Bay from its northern coastal neighbour Gilmore, which together with the Riverina transfer returns Eden-Monaro to its pre-2007 boundaries, excepting the anomalous areas north of the Australian Capital Territory which remain in Hume. Labor’s margin there is reduced from 3.4 per cent to 2.3 per cent. At its eastern end, Hume gains from Macarthur and loses to Throsby. The gain of the interior area of Macarthur, covering 10,500 voters from Lake Burragorang south through Oakdale, The Oaks and Picton to Wilton and Brooks Point, counterbalances Macarthur’s Sydney outskirts gains from Fowler and Werriwa. To Throsby it loses the balance of the Shire of Wingecarribee east of the Hume Highway, including 27,500 voters in and around the rail line towns of Mittagong, Bowral and Moss Vale. The changes to Hume increase the Liberal margin from 4.2 per cent to 5.2 per cent.

Throsby loses to Gilmore its southern coastal area around Shellharbour and lighly populated areas of the Municipality of Kiama further inland, collectively accounting for 20,200 voters. This counterbalances Gilmore’s loss of Batemans Bay to Eden-Monaro in the south. Labor’s strength around Shellharbour and weakness around Batemans Bay are just enough to shift Gilmore into the notional Labor column, turning a Liberal margin of 4.1 per cent into a Labor margin of 0.2 per cent. At Throsby’s northern coastal end, the unpopulated Spring Hill industrial area north of Port Kembla is transferred to Cunningham. More substantially, Cunningham gains northern areas in the Shire of Sutherland: at the coastal end, it gains the Royal National Park along with Bundeena and Maianbar on the southern bank of the Hacking River from Cook, adding 1800 voters; further inland, it gains 4900 voters in and around the Princes Highway centres of Heathcote and Waterfall from Hughes. Cook makes two gains along its western boundary from Hughes: at Como and Bonnet Bay in the north and in the eastern part of Sutherland further south, collectively adding 8200 voters. Hughes’s losses to Cook and Cunningham, along with the loss of Liverpool to Fowler, counterbalance the substantial gain from Banks north of the Georges River.

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.

211 comments on “NSW redistribution thread”

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  1. [incompetence, born to rule mentality and culture of corruption]

    Sounds like you’re referring to the Liberals there Patrick!

  2. Patrick in all honesty with how the NSW Government is going and the state of the Sydney economy the Liberals should be looking at gains in NSW even with these changes.

  3. mexicanbeemer, a breakdown of federal polling shows Labor is still extremely popular in NSW. They can and do know the difference between federal and state governments. Federal Labor continues to dominate everywhere except WA, and even there they’re breaking even.

  4. # 52:

    Hard not to agree with that one. If the voters want to vote you out, they will find a way. Only the most blantant, overt gerrymandering can stop them

  5. # 53:

    If Labor’s ridiculously bloated poll numbers hold up until the election, I’ll stop referring to you as a fool, ok?

  6. [David Walsh & mexicanbeemer both mentioned the similarity to the 2004 boundaries. What does that say about the previous NSW redistribution?
    Did the population move slightly for a few years, and then go back to where it was?]
    No. And I only mentioned that with respect to four seats. But nonetheless…

    The important thing to note is that this is the second redistribution in a row where NSW has lost a seat.

    You could say that at both redistributions the AEC has tried to share the burden of that seat loss equally between urban and rural seats. So last time we lost half a rural seat and half an urban seat. For arguments sake let’s say Macquarie went from being an “urban” seat to a “hybrid” seat.

    This time we’ve once again lost half an urban seat and half a rural seat. Macquarie has returned to being an “urban” seat. So we’re back to where we were two elections ago. Only now with one less rural seat (Gwydir) and one less urban seat (Reid).

    Hope that makes sense.

  7. BTW:

    How do all you communists / union troglodytes feel about the rolling disaster that is the NT Government at the moment?

  8. The AEC is strictly non-partisan and doesn’t examine the political effect of its changes.

    To insinuate that they are fudging borders to benefit anyone is very insulting.

  9. # 64:

    Well I’m truly very sorry if my insinuation offended you.

    I just couldn’t help but observe the partisan effects of such “non-partisan”, “apolitical” redistributions.

  10. [If Labor’s ridiculously bloated poll numbers hold up ]

    You’re only calling them ridiculously bloated because they’re not favouring you. Who’d vote for the current federal Liberals? They are an absolute joke whom no swinging voter would vote for. I pity you that you cannot see this. Blind partisanship is a curse.

  11. [How do all you communists / union troglodytes feel about the rolling disaster that is the NT Government at the moment?]

    The comrades in Beijing did not realise there is another breakaway govt of Northern Tibet (NT). But they are pleased that it is a rolling disaster. They say Xie Xie for the info


  12. David Walsh @ 61,

    Thank you for that answer. So the AEC has a number of “standard responses” to given demographic situations on aggregate (in this case, the whole of NSW).
    But it chooses each time exactly where these responses will be applied.
    And repeated applications can produce the appearance of “pulsating” boundaries.

  13. I’m sort of mystified as to why Macquarie is switching back to the pre-2007 boundaries. Did the Blue Mountains have common interests with the inner Central West for a few years, but now something’s changed and we have more in common with the Hawkesbury again?

  14. Two points.

    1. The ALP has needed more than 50% of the 2PP to win Government for a while now.

    2. If you have a problem, write to the AEC.

    Written objections must be lodged with the Australian Electoral Commission no later than 6.00pm on Friday 4 September 2009:

    *in person to Level 3, Roden Cutler House, 24 Campbell Street, Haymarket, NSW, 2000; or
    *or by mail to PO Box K406, Haymarket, NSW, 1240; or
    *or by email to nsw.redistribution@aec.gov.au; or
    *or by facsimile to (02) 9375 6328

  15. Partisan bickering aside, I find it an interesting question whether redistributions do favour Labor more often than not.

    Is it possible that Labor seats overpopulate on average more than non-Labor ones?

    If so then redistributions favour Labor, but the other side of the coin is that not having redistributions favours the conservatives. Thus looking at a single redistribution is distorting, you need to examine the changes over the full course of the cycle.

    Earlier in this thread, Adam mentioned an instance during the 1950s and 60s where the boundaries were left unchanged for 13 years. Presumably the Coalition government at the time saw advantage in keeping the boundaries as they were.

  16. The previous changes to Macquarie was that people in the Blue Mountains had “similar interests” to people in the outer Hawkesbury area (which they do). There’s no such thing as the “Inner Central Coast” – most people don’t live west of the Pacific Highway.

    On another note, one would expect that Coalition to object to the proposed redistribution, purely on the new boundaries created. That said, I would be surprised to see it radically changed. Can anyone remember a time when a proposed redistribution was radically changed (i.e. more than changes to names or minor changes to boundaries)?

  17. [I’m sort of mystified as to why Macquarie is switching back to the pre-2007 boundaries.]

    Every redistribution is a compromise between all the conflicting criteria the boundaries are supposed to meet: growth projections, continuity, community of interest, following LGA boundaries, etc. It’s impossible to meet all of them. In NSW the west of the state is steadily declining relative to the east, so even though a city seat was abolished this time, western NSW must still lose representation. Last time Gwydir was abolished, this time Calare has contracted to a central west seat and Macquarie has gone back east of the ranges. I think the Blue Mountains’ community of interest with the Hawkesbury is actually better than with Bathurst and Lithgow.

  18. David Walsh @ 76,

    Left unchanged in the same way that the Lebanese Govt has repeatedly refused to hold a Census, since seats in Lebanon are allocated on the basis of religious demographics (and everyone knows, or think they do, that the Shia have been breeding the fastest).

  19. In those days redistributions had to be approved by Parliament. There was a redistribution in 1962 but the Country Party rejected it because it abolished country seats.

  20. [Can anyone remember a time when a proposed redistribution was radically changed (i.e. more than changes to names or minor changes to boundaries)?]

    Well, the last NSW redistribution for one.

    Parkes was initially set to be a megaseat – a lot like what’s been proposed now. But there were vociferous complaints about it and it was redrawn more in keeping with the old Gwydir. The knock-on effect being that Calare, proposed to be shifted westwards but still reasonably compact, was greatly expanded to include the northern outback. Farrer too was changed, originally only going north to Broken Hill, it was extended to go all the way to the Queensland border; although greatly increasing its size, I don’t think this affected very many voters.

    That said, only a few seats were affected by these ‘radical’ changes. The great majority were left unchanged, with a few other seats undergoing minor changes.

  21. #76

    I think the tendancy is to favour the party in power. I note during the Howard era, the Liberals got some pretty favourable redistributions (Qld 2004, SA 2003, Victoria 2002). Since Rudd’s been elected Labor’s had good outcomes in WA, Qld, and now NSW.

    Or perhaps it’s just the fact that the party in power has the higher vote, making seats look safer than what they really are. Based on pre-2007 results; Macarthur, Hughes, Gilmore, Macquarie, Calare and Paterson would look like safe-ish seats, and even Greenway and Banks might be close.

  22. The Victorian redistribution in 1994/5 was redesigned at the second go. It was changed so much from the original proposals that the AEC deemed them “significant changes” and held another round of objections/comments. Then after this, further changes were made. So they had three goes at it instead of the usual two.

  23. So Swing Lowe residence was in North Sydney, but with border changes it is now Warringah. Ever resided in Lowe? Any way you should be Swing Warringah.

    One day there will be the seat of Mao. Oh… there is a Mayo….close.

  24. I used to live in Lowe (until 1 month ago). Up until this morning, I had moved into North Sydney, but the redistribution has put me into Warringah.

  25. Has anything happened to the Greens chances at second place in Grayndler?

    The consensus so far seems to be that it has hurt the Greens chances at second place in Sydney.

  26. Quick question, is there a policy that the party leader’s seat is not changed through redistribution? Both Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull’s seats are apparently unchanged in both redistributions.

    I would’ve thought that them both being inner-city areas, they could’ve been overenrolled?

  27. [is there a policy that the party leader’s seat is not changed through redistribution?]

    No. Bennelong was moved steadily westwards during Howard’s tenure.

  28. Tom – as far as I can see, Grayndler barely changes – it gains a small slice of Croydon but that’s it. Judging from the 2007 booth results for Croydon it won’t have much impact on the Green vote in Grayndler.

  29. You’ll be lucky to come fifth in either seat if you reject the CPRS bill. The voters want this bill passed, and the greener they are, the more they want it.

  30. David Walsh @ 76

    Partisan bickering aside, I find it an interesting question whether redistributions do favour Labor more often than not.

    Is it possible that Labor seats overpopulate on average more than non-Labor ones?

    David, have you forgotten Possum’s analysis of the demographic train wreck? From 1-59, demographics favour the ALP. Only the 60+ demographic favours the LNP, and they’re a dying group (literally) http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollytics/2009/0/15/gen-blue/

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