I wouldn’t normally do a post for an event as minor as the publication of suggestions for a state redistribution, but Greens operative Grahame Bowland has made it worth our while in the case of the present Western Australian redistribution by mapping out the boundaries proposed by the Liberals and the Greens. This has made it a fairly simple matter for me to calculate notional margins based on their suggestions, so we can have a better idea of what the Liberals in particular are trying to achieve. Much as I’d like to be even-handed by scrutinising a detailed Labor proposal, its submission does not provide one.
The basic thesis of the Liberal submission is that the commissioners should push the 10% tolerance to its limits to avoid abolishing any existing electorates, despite dramatic population changes which have caused outer suburban electorates to be well over average enrolment. By contrast, Labor and the Greens propose the more obvious approach of abolishing a country electorate and creating a new metropolitan one. The biggest change proposed by the Liberals is for the waning wheatbelt electorates of Central Wheatbelt and Wagin to be brought up to quota by drawing the latter into Collie, so that the Collie-Preston electorate would become merely Preston. Collie-Preston is a highly marginal seat, held for Labor by locally popular Mick Murray on the slenderest possible margin, because it balances the hugely pro-Labor coal-mining town of Collie against conservative dairy farming surrounds. Excising Collie in the manner proposed would give Preston a Liberal margin approaching 10% on the 2013 results (remembering Labor’s statewide two-party vote was only 42.7%), without making Labor competitive in Wagin.
In the metropolitan area, the Liberals would have their margins boosted from 0.9% to 2.3% in Belmont by extending it northwards to Guildford and Helena Valley; from 2.1% to 3.8% in Forrestfield by chopping Labor turf at Maddington and Kenwick at the southern end, and adding friendlier territory around Gooseberry Hill in the north-east; from 8.1% to around 11% in Jandakot (which despite the present margin was notionally Labor on its creation at the 2008 election) by trading old suburbs at the northern end (Bull Creek and South Lake) for new ones in the south (Hammond Park and Anketell); from 4.5% to 8.5% in Joondalup, by sending Labor-leaning Craigie at the southern end to safe Liberal Hillarys, and adding Liberal-voting coastal territory around Mullaloo from Ocean Reef, which would have a much reduced but still double-digit Liberal margin; and from 4.7% to 6.4% in Morley, by adding Dianella from Mirrabooka. Midland, which Labor retained by a hair’s breadth in 2013, would acquire a notional Liberal margin of 2.2% by gaining Darlington from Kalamunda.
The submission of a detailed proposal by the Greens either reflects their growing confidence about their lower house prospects generally, or the fact that the party attracts wonkish activists who do this sort of thing for fun. Whatever the explanation, the submission proposes the abolition of Eyre in the state’s south-east and the creation of a new seat of Carramar, which would take over areas of the outer northern suburbs from Wanneroo and Butler, and by my reckoning would have a notional Liberal margin of 6.3%. It is proposed that the Greens’ favoured target seat of Fremantle would extend north of the river to take in North Fremantle, offering them the indirect advantage of subduing Labor’s primary vote.