Victorian federal redistribution: take two

Following the public consultation process into the draft Victorian federal boundaries that were unveiled in August, the redistribution commissioners have announced they have essentially junked their original proposal and gone back to the drawing board. Unusually for a situation where the number of electorates had not changed, the original proposal was for a radical rearrangement in which the electorate of Murray on the border of New South Wales was to be abolished and a new electorate of Burke created in Melbourne’s northern outskirts. The response to this was sufficiently hostile that they have now decided on a more conventional course of action that merely tinkers with the 37 electorates that currently exist. Since this clearly amounts to a “significantly different” proposal to the original, the public inquiry process will begin anew.

I have not had time yet to examine the new boundaries in any detail, but since the original proposal was very bad news for Labor (while it created a new Labor seat in Burke and abolished a Liberal seat in Murray, it also made Liberal seats out of Labor-held Corangamite, Deakin and McEwen), it presumably follows that they will be more than happy with the plan to pursue a more conventional approach. More to follow.

UPDATE: Patricia Karvelas of The Australian reports Coalition MPs are “furious” with Murray MP Sharman Stone for her successful efforts to have her seat restored, at the expense of her party’s broader electoral interests.

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.

30 comments on “Victorian federal redistribution: take two”

  1. Corrangamite still loses some potential Labor areas to Corio, at a quick glance, but doesn’t pick up the heavy conservative areas in the west any more..

    McEwen looks like it goes back to almost “line ball” , but with development favouring an ongoing shift to Labor.

    Couldn’t guess at the effect of the Deakin changes.

  2. By keeping Murray, they basically merge McEwen with the southern part of the proposed Burke (Sunbury and Gisborne). The northern part of the proposed Burke goes into Bendigo and all the other rural divisions shuffle back to something resembling their existing arrangements: Mallee regains Horsham, Wannon regains Camperdown, Corangamite regains part of the peninsula, Indi regains Mansfield and so on.

    Good news is they return the Lalor/Corio boundary back to Little River, they remove Endeavour Hills from Aston, they put Docklands back in Melbourne and undo the changes between Higgins and Melbourne Ports.

    Bad news is they’re forced to adopt some odd arrangements in Melbourne’s northern and western suburbs (like splitting Craigieburn) but since these are all safe Labor seats the major parties probably won’t bother complaining. The changes also mean McEwen remains a bits-and-pieces division instead of becoming truly rural as originally proposed.

    A plus for Labor in that McEwen and Corangamite will remain Labor seats, but the loss of Endeavour Hills means Aston isn’t as winnable for them.

  3. Deakin’s changes still favour the Liberals I think: it still loses Burwood East and gains Vermont South. Not sure it would make it notionally Liberal, but it would be closer than the election result IMO.

  4. IMO the previous redistribution wasn’t that bad in regional Vic. Corangamite moved west and Wannon went up into the Wimmera – around Shepparton it did all get a bit odd. And the new seat of Burke was where a new seat needed to be. Some of the Melbourne things like Melbourne Ports taking Docklands were prefectly arguable.

    This new redistribution is unlikely to upset anyone much except that Wannon has become a bit of a dogs breakfast with Maryborough (in central Vic) becoming this sort of pimple in a western vic seat. Agreed that McEwen is still a ‘grab bag’ of areas lumped together.

    Not 100% sure of the present boundaries but I have a feeling that the Libs may not like what has happened to Higgins.

    When looking at the statewide maps, the AEC have followed LGA boundaries almost to the letter. Sooner or later they might need to get a bit more subtle as the LGA boundaries will be hard to accommodate.

    Frankly it all seems a bit lazy on the AECs part.

  5. [The changes also mean McEwen remains a bits-and-pieces division instead of becoming truly rural as originally proposed.]

    One of the problems was that under the original proposals McEwen still didn’t become “truly rural”. Presumably to keep the numbers right it still contained parts of Hurstbridge and Diamond Creek (at the end of the Eltham line) and parts of the developing suburbs around Doreen.

    In the case of Hurstbridge, it split the township into three electorates, with the school in McEwen, the Post Office and Police Station in JagaJaga and a lot of the school students homes in Scullin! I was one of the objectors to this.

  6. Graeme, I thought it was that bloke from the gardening show. You know, he of the gnome-like countenance and notoriously bad temper.


  7. @5

    Yeah, but there were alot of objections showing how you could keep the general arrangement of Burke, Scullin and McEwen while avoiding the split of Hurstbridge.

    I just thought the original proposals made alot more sense than these ones, even allowing for the fact that it involved greater change to existing boundaries.

  8. Pat McNamara, national party godfather, was spitting chips yesterday because Sharman Stone has avoided a three cornered contest.,
    If she had moved west to mallee on the reitrement of Forest she would have been smashed by the nats, if she had lost the ‘name’ Murray it made again it possible for the Nats to run and again she would get smashed, (Look at the numbers at a State level.) What does this women have to be able to effect such an outcome?

  9. I still think the changes to Deakin will favour the Liberals. As I understand it, the areas it gains in Croydon and North Croydon favour the Liberals. Would appreciate someone else’s view.

  10. We all need Anthony green to tell us how it is. maybe if we all think hard and say his name he may appear like a magic genie!!
    Anthony green….Anthony green…Anthony green

  11. [ if she had lost the ‘name’ Murray it made again it possible for the Nats to run and again she would get smashed, ]

    It’s ridiculous if you think about it. Seats can undergo seismic shifts in their electoral boundaries, but as long as they keep the same name then they are the ‘same’ seat. Look at Calare in NSW – it’s been thrown from pillar to post, but it’s still called ‘Calare’.

  12. [Yeah, but there were alot of objections showing how you could keep the general arrangement of Burke, Scullin and McEwen while avoiding the split of Hurstbridge.]

    Yes. That’s quite true,MDMConnell, and I took that approach myself in my own objection (I was very much focused simply on our own local area rather than broader implications). As far as “big vision” suggestions of change go, if you saw it, what did you think of Tim Colebatch’s submission as an alternative to the original AEC approach?

  13. McEwen actually looks to have improved quite a lot for Labor: margin maybe as high as 10 per cent. Deakin, Corangamite, Aston, Dunkley are all lineball, leaning very slightly to the present incumbents.

  14. My advice is that McEwen would be 59% Labor on these boundaries, mainly because it gains the northern parts of Calwell. Labor would lose 2% in Deakin through the addition of Croydon, which means the Libs would have held it in 2007, but on 2010 figures it would now be about 0.5% Labor. There is almost no change to Dunkley, La Trobe and Corangamite. Aston is still a bit better for Labor but not enough to win it. Melbourne Ports gets most of Caulfield back and is thus made safe against Green challenge. The winners are thus Sharman Stone, Rob Mitchell and Michael Danby.

  15. It does mean Melbourne Ports is more vulnerable to the Liberals when Danby retires, though. Danby surely has a strong personal vote in Caulfield which a non-Jewish Labor candidate wouldn’t necessarily achieve.

  16. I think I need to object to proposed new boundaries for Higgins – it moves me from Simon Crean’s electorate into Kelly O’Dywer’s.

    Perhaps I can ask Simon to keep sending the fridge magnets and I’ll pretend it has not happened.

  17. MDMConnell, Ports is actually better for Labor now because it loses a chunk of Liberal territory in South Caulfield, so Danby wins both ways, against the Greens and the Libs. As for the succession, Danby has no plans to depart, but in any case there are several excellent Jewish candidates to succeed him.

  18. Te move to restore melbourne Ports northern boundary to Williams Road taking in the former city of Prahran is a good move as it reunites local communities but it is still questionable as to why they had opted to cross the Yarra and isolate Melbourne’s newest suburb Docklands which should be retained by the seat of Melbourne.

  19. Melbourne was over quota so it had to get rid of something somewhere, and all the options are messy. You either push Wills right down into Carlton and Fitzroy, or detach Docklands, or move Clifton Hill into Batman, or move Flemington into Maribyrnong. The latter option is actually the most sensible, but the north-western seats are already over quota so you’d just create a mess somewhere else.

    Docklands was not a bad option in that it at least united the whole precinct in one seat. With this new arrangement they’ve gone the Clifton Hill option, which isn’t as good, but at least allows them to top-up the north-eastern seats in a fairly logical manner.

  20. Looking at these new maps, the AEC has improved on its first effort.

    Having South Yarra/Prahran in Melbourne Ports makes sense. Good to see the AEC have placed Endeavour Hills back into Holt.

    The Melbourne is interesting for I agree Flemington could go into Maribyrnong and Cliffton Hill into Batman, another potential option could have been to have moved Richmond into Kooyong.

    Now before you faint, many years ago Richmond and Hawthorn were in the same seat then held by Jim Cains (Yarra), I would argue that those two suburbs have a lot more in common today than they did back when that seat existed in the 1940s/1950s this is particularly true of the Swan Street part of Richmond that has very little in common with the areas north of Victoria Street.

    I like the new proposed McEwen although I wonder what Seymour has in common with Sunbury, also moving Murrindindi Sire into Indi makes sense.

  21. 24

    Putting Richmond in Kooyong would do interesting things to the politics of the seat as it would combine some of the weakest areas for the Libs in Melbourne with some of the weakest for the ALP.

    It is hard to tell whether Danby`s personal vote transfers across to the Senate but is does seem to be the Greens and micro parties, not the Liberals, getting votes from the voters who voted for the ALP in the HoR but not the Senate.

  22. Beemer, under the new proposal South Yarra and Prahran will stay in Higgins. I very much doubt that the AEC would put Richmond into Kooyong, although it’s true that the old Yarra seat did straddle the Yarra in this way. It wouldn’t pass the current community of interest test.

    More generally, the steady growth of Melbourne, combined with no increase in the number of seats, is making the task of designing coherent seats increasingly hard, because the country seats have to become bigger and bigger to meet the quota. So we have Bendigo, McEwen, McMillan, Corangamite and even Indi being drawn into the Melbourne fringes, and the difficulty of retaining three seats north of the Divide.

  23. 26

    Expand the Senate to 14 per state. Probably 6 extra HoR seats for Victoria. It could be done over 2 elections although that would most likely mean 5 extra redistributions.

  24. Psephos – Thanks for pointing out that South Yarra remains in Higgins.

    I disagree that Richmond and Hawthorn are dis-similar. apart from in their voting patterns they are actually very similar.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *