NSW finally federally redistributed

Finalised new federal boundaries for New South Wales diminish Anthony Albanese’s incentive to abandon Grayndler for Barton, while still leaving the Liberals with their preselection headache in Hume.

The Australian Electoral Commission today published the finalised federal boundaries for New South Wales, which have not fundamentally changed what in some ways was a controversial draft proposal. In other words, the plan is still to abolish a seat in the Hunter region by merging the seats of Hunter and Charlton, with the latter name put into retirement, producing knock-on effects that cause the fairly safe Liberal seat of Paterson to become highly marginal through the absorption of Hunter territory just north of Newcastle. However, politically important revisions have been made to the boundary between Grayndler and Barton, and the boundary between McMahon and Fowler. The AEC’s accounting of the changes is detailed here, though maps will have to wait until the end of next month. My calculations of margins based on the draft boundaries can be found here, with the most consequential changes (and non-changes) as follows:

• The boundary between Grayndler and Barton has been revised in a manner that may upset Anthony Albanese’s calculation that he would be best served by abandoning the former electorate for the latter. Whereas the original draft gave Labor a notional margin of 7.5% in Barton, it’s now looking more like 3.5% – which is correspondingly good news for Nick Varvaris, who won Barton for the Liberals in 2013 by a margin of 0.3%. The draft had Barton moving north to absorb more than 20,000 voters around Marrickville and other areas immediately north of Cooks River, but the final boundaries cut that transfer in half. To balance that out, Grayndler will not gain the Drummoyne peninsula from Reid as proposed, and Barton will gain Hurstville and surrounding areas from Banks. Banks, which was won for the Liberals in 2013 David Coleman, now stands to have a Liberal margin of a bit over 2%, compared with 1.8% at the election and 2.6% in the draft proposal.

• The draft proposal complicated matters for senior Labor front-bencher Chris Bowen by transferring the Labor stronghold of Fairfield from his seat of McMahon to neighbouring Fowler, cutting his margin from 5.4% to 2.1%. The final boundaries reverse that, with McMahon instead to absorb a more marginal area around Bossley Park further to the west. The Labor margin in McMahon will now be around 4.5%, while that in Fowler now stands to be 14.1%, compared with 16.8% at the election and 17.7% in the draft proposal. At the very least, this reduces Bowen’s incentive to take over Fowler from Chris Hayes, who might instead have filled the vacancy created in Werriwa (where he originally replaced Mark Latham in 2005, before moving to Fowler after the last NSW redistribution in 2010) by the looming retirement of Laurie Ferguson.

• The reversal of the planned transfer of the Drummoyne peninsula from Grayndler to Reid, and Reid’s counterbalancing loss of territory around Auburn to Blaxland, causes the Liberal margin in Reid to be increased to just shy of 4%, compared with 0.9% at the election and 1.0% under the draft proposal. The seat was gained by the Liberals in 2013 by Craig Laundy.

• The other important news is what hasn’t been changed, namely the transfer of the Sydney fringe centre of Camden from Macarthur to Hume, with the latter losing rural territory around Cootamundra, Cowra and Young. This is reportedly setting the scene for a Liberal preselection contest that would see Macarthur MP Russell Matheson attempt to dislodge Angus Taylor in Hume, reflecting the former’s factional strength around Camden. This is part of a series of Liberal preselection turf wars resulting from the ascendant moderate faction flexing its muscles, which I wrote about at length in a paywalled Crikey article today.

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.

13 comments on “NSW finally federally redistributed”

  1. Strictly speaking the heading for this thread is misleading, because according to the statement of the augmented Electoral Commission, the redistribution will be gazetted on 25 February, and won’t take effect until then. This isn’t just a semantic point: until the gazettal, the situation in NSW will continue to be a constraint on the calling of a double dissolution election, since a “mini-redistribution” would still be required, even though the shape of the new boundaries has been announced.

  2. The primary votes in Grayndler at the federal election were ALP 47.2%, LIB 24.7%, GRN 23.0%.

    The draft proposal would have made it ALP 44.0%, LIB 31.2%, GRN 20.0%.

    The final boundaries make it (roughly) ALP 47.0%, LIB 26.3%, GRN 21.8%.

  3. Liberals will be gnashing their teeth at the final boundaries for Paterson and Dobell because:

    a) this came about as a result of THEIR call for the seat of Hunter to be the seat that was abolished, the effects of which flowed down the Central Coast and up the North Coast.

    and b) are two areas that are leery of Baird due to corruption scandal, and the big cuts to services that are being made in the Hunter.

    I can’t see either Dobell or Paterson being enamoured of a silvertail like Turnbull, and both areas have strong Labor infrastructure at all levels. Suffice to say, Labor will be campaigning very hard in these seats.

  4. Not too far now until we can look at a full 2016 federal election pendulum and start getting serious about estimating what sort of 2PP Labor would need for a 50% chance of winning. (My estimate on the old boundaries was a massive 51.6 but the redistribution and retirements may change things.)

  5. Grayndler should still be reasonably safe for Labor. Although the areas transferred back into Grayndler from the originally proposed Barton (notably Marrickville and Sydenham) are a lot stronger for the Greens. At the next election I would be expecting Labor to beat the Greens 55-45 respectively.

  6. Moving Drummoyne and the remainder of Canada Bay LGA out of Grayndler was inevitable and sensible. Although the small amount of Marrickville LGA in Sydney (the suburbs of Camperdown, Camperdown Sth and Newtown Nth), should be in Grayndler rather than Sydney for community interests. Sydney’s boundary with Wentworth on the other hand is nonsensical as there is no clear boundary to include the entirety of Potts Point with Sydney without adding Elizabeth Bay and Rushcutters Bay, As to how this works out we will need to wait until the Divisions are finalised are and the maps are released.

  7. Angus Taylor, whose electorate of Hume includes areas of the Southern Highlands where there is great concern about fracking, has an ultra conservative track record on the environment including fracking – http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/pollie-watch-angus-taylor-liberal-renewable-energy-59689. One of his key supporters is Peter Reith, whose report to the Napthine government recommended fast progress on coal seam gas. Taylor was Reith-s off-sider on the report. As a Rhodes Scholar too, he can be expected prima facie to inherit Abbott’s supporters among the lords and the big shareholders. Nip it in the bud.

  8. @5 Labor hasn’t exactly been scandal-free in the CC/Hunter either, so it might be one of those deals where both parties agree to “not go there”. Dobell’s changes are minor, and it should be won by a sitting Liberal despite the notional margin IF the polls hold up. Paterson might depend on who contests for each side.

    @9 The problem with the Sydney/Wentworth boundary is that you have to split somewhere. Either you hive off Paddington South and Moore Park (the original proposal), or you split Kings Cross from Elizabeth Bay. The latter was my suggestion and it seems to have got up. Kings Cross is more “inner city” than areas like Paddington/Moore Park, so is a better fit in the Division of Sydney than in Wentworth.

  9. @11 I agree completely that Kings Cross should be in Sydney, although I’m a little perplexed as to how they AEC will be able to put Potts Point into Sydney as they said they would, There are no clear boundaries to separate it from other suburbs around it to the east.

  10. @12

    I assume it would be the suburb boundary, which is what I proposed. That’s a pretty clear separation between the entertainment/nightlife precinct of Kings Cross, and the more residential areas further east (Elizabeth Bay, etc). So I guess it was as good a boundary as any in the area.

    My original suggestions had a way to put all of this area in Sydney, but it involved making changes between Wentworth & K-S, which the Committee didn’t agree with.

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