The federal redistribution of New South Wales has been completed, with a final determination that turns up fewer surprises than the recent effort in Queensland. Antony Green has as always given the new boundaries the once-over; all margins quoted herein are as calculated by him.
The commissioners have responded to widespread criticism of the original proposal to put the electorate name of Reid out of commission, the general feeling being that Australia’s fourth prime minister deserved better. It has been decided that instead of changing the name of its eastern neighbour Lowe to McMahon (which under the redistribution takes in 32 per cent of the voters from abolished Reid), it will instead change to Reid and the new name of McMahon will be given to Prospect, located further to the west.
To maintain continuity with local government boundaries, the frequently redrawn Calare will recover the western shires of Parkes and Forbes it was to lose to Parkes, and lose the areas of Wellington Shire Council (including Mumbi and Neurea) and Mid-Western Regional Council (Mudgee and Gulgong) it was to gain from it. This is great news for Calare’s National Party member John Cobb, whose margin is now cut from 12.1 per cent to 3.5 per cent rather than the originally proposed 1.2 per cent.
The vast interior electorate of Farrer, which was originally to remain unchanged, will now absorb a part of the Shire of Central Darling including Wilcannia from Parkes, with no impact on its margin. Parkes in turn will gain the balance of the Shire of Parkes around Lake Cargelligo from its southern neighbour Riverina.
A transfer of 1100 voters in the north-eastern part of the Shire of Tenterfield from New England to Page has been reversed. This has been counter-balanced by the transfer of the Shire of Lachlan from New England to its western neigbour Parkes. The collective changes to Parkes cut the Nationals margin from 13.8 per cent to 13.6 per cent.
A transfer from Hume to Throsby south of Sydney has been slightly clipped so the town of Bundanoon remains in Hume. Hume also has its gain from Macarthur further to the north expanded to bring the boundary into alignment with the Nepean River and Sickles Creek, adding Theresa Park, Orangeville and Brownlow Hill in Sydney’s outskirts. None of the margins are affected.
A transfer around Duckenfield on the west-east boundary between Newcastle and Paterson has been reversed, returning that area to Newcastle, which has further gained the adjacent area of Millers Forest.
There have been minor adjustments to boundaries betweeen Cunningham and Macarthur, which have been tidied with elimination of a salient that formerly extended into Macarthur at Darkes Forest; Grayndler and what will now be called Reid, the latter of which gains a few blocks of territory to keep Croydon within one electorate; Bennelong and Berowra, where a proposed transfer of 1900 voters in Beecroft from the former to the latter has been reversed; and to the new boundary between Blaxland and Parramatta (in territory previously covered by Reid), adding three blocks of territory to the former at Granville.
Other adjustments are more incidental still: a transfer of the unpopulated Spring Hill industrial area north of Port Kembla from Throsby to Cunningham has been reversed; Hughes’s boundary with Cook and Cunningham has been altered to follow the Illawarra Railway rather than nearby roads; and the boundary between Mitchell and Parramatta will now follow North Rocks Road rather than nearby Darling Mills Creek.
According to the ABC, the decision to maintain the name Reid increases the likelihood that its nominal member, Laurie Ferguson, will seek to continue his political career through a preselection challenge against John Murphy, the member for what is currently called Lowe. Ferguson is demanding that the matter be determined by a local ballot rather than the state or national executive processes which tend to prevail in contentious circumstances.
Imre Salusinszky of The Australian reports sources across all factions agree that Macarthur MP Pat Farmer is certain to lose Liberal preselection at next Thursday’s ballot to former Campbelltown mayor Russell Matheson. It is further said by Salusinszky’s sources that Farmer, who dumped a bucket on his own constituents on election night and has since moved far away from them to the expensive north shore suburb of Mosman, is only running to be eligible for parliamentary superannuation granted to those who serve three terms followed by involuntary departure. Soraiya Gharahkhani of the Camden Advertiser reports Labor’s preselection for the seat looms as a four-way contest between Nick Bleasdale (local carpenter and narrowly unsuccessful candidate from 2007), Greg Warren (the deputy mayor of Camden), Michael Freelander (a Campbelltown pediatrician) and Paul Nunnari (a wheelchair athlete). Ben Raue at The Tally Room offers an informed overview of the local political situation. The redistribution has turned the seat from 0.7 per cent Liberal to 0.1 per cent Labor.
The Courier Mail says the Liberal preselection for new Gold Coast hinterland seat of Wright will be a five-way affair involving Cameron Thompson, who lost Blair to Labor’s Shayne Neumann in 2007; Hajnal Ban, Logan City councillor and Nationals candidate for Forde in 2007; and Bob La Castra, Gold Coast councillor and former presenter of the 1980s children’s television show Wombat.
Andrew Clennell of the Sydney Morning Herald reports the New South Wales Liberal Party is talking about recruiting everyone from the former ABC broadcaster Sally Loane to the former right-hand man to John Howard, Arthur Sinodinos. Loane’s services are reportedly sought in Coogee, while Sinodinos might replace the outgoing Peter Debnam in Vaucluse. Conservative Sydney Morning Herald columnist Miranda Devine is apparently not interested.
Former NRL player Hazem El Masri has also reportedly been approached by the Liberal Party to stand in the ultra-safe Labor seat of Lakemba. However, Andrew Clennell in the Herald relates that Liberal sources said yesterday they believed Mr El Masri would not agree to stand for Parliament. Labor is also said to have its sights on El Masri, with earlier conjecture he might succeed Tony Stewart in Bankstown.
The Progress Leader reports Graham Watt, the owner of a local carpet cleaning business, has been preselected as the Liberal candidate for Jeff Kennett’s old seat of Burwood, currently held by Labor’s Bob Stensholt on a margin of 3.7 per cent. Watt reportedly received 70 votes against 45 for former Hawthorn AFL player Steve Lawrence (who was given a reference by Kennett) and five for David Solly, IT manager and one-time Nationals member.