Western Australian draft state redistribution

Proposed new state boundaries for Western Australia abolish a Nationals-held regional seat to accommodate a new way in Perth’s southern growth corridor.

Draft boundaries have been published for a state redistribution in Western Australia, which happens roughly at the mid-point of every four-year parliamentary term. In a nutshell: the electorates of North West Central and Moore, both held by the Nationals, are to be merged into Mid West, and a new seat called Oakford is to be created in the outer southern suburbs, which would be fairly safe for Labor at a normal election. A substantially redrawn Carine becomes Padbury; Swan Hills is to be renamed Walyunga; Burns Beach becomes Mindarie; Mirrabooka becomes Girrawheen; Willagee becomes Bibra Lake; Warnbro becomes Secret Harbour. My preliminary estimates of the margins are posted below. I’ll be expanding on this post in detail over the coming hours.

UPDATE: Some general observations. By the distorted arithmetic of the 2021 result, this increases Labor from 53 seats to a notional 54, reducing the Nationals from four to three and leaving the Liberals on two. But to crudely balance things by deducting 20% from Labor in every seat, thereby approximating a 50-50 result, Jandakot would go from marginal Labor to marginal Liberal and Pilbara would go from marginal Labor to marginal Nationals.

The new seat of Oakford looks safe for Labor, taking a chunk out of their stronghold of Armadale together with the new suburbia of Piara Waters and Harrisdale from naturally marginal Jandakot and Aubin Grove and Wandi from Kwinana, plus semi-rural areas further south including Oakford proper. The changes cut 2.7% from the Labor margin in Jandakot and cause Kwinana to overtake Rockingham as Labor’s safest seat, since it loses the area east of the freeway that constituted its one weak spot.

The new northern suburbs seat of Padbury is created by redrawing Hillarys and Carine in such a way as to turn two roughly square-shaped coastal seats into elongated north-to-south ones, with Hillarys taking the entirety of the coast. This makes Hillarys a lot weaker for Labor and Padbury a lot stronger than Carine had been, which might make life interesting for the two Labor members for these normally Liberal seats.

Elsewhere in suburbia, the probable bellwether seat of Forrestfield becomes stronger for the Liberals by being pushed northwards, losing Kenwick and gaining Helena Valley; Riverton, which would be fairly comfortable for the Liberals at a normal election, becomes 2.0% stronger for Labor by trading Leeming for Parkwood; a number of minor changes make Scarborough, which will presumably be difficult for Labor to hold, 1.0% weaker for them; Balcatta awkwardly gains southern Gwelup on the western side of the Mitchell Freeway, slightly weakening Labor in a natural marginal; and Kalamunda, which had been marginal or perhaps Liberal-leaning, is pushed further to the east, adding a handy 3.3% to the Labor margin.

With the abolition of North West Central, Pilbara gains its northernmost territories including Exmouth, Onslow and the mining towns of Pannawonica, Tom Price and Paraburdoo, which cut 3.4% from the Labor margin in a seat that could go either way at a tight election. The regional city seats of Albany and Geraldton both become weaker for Labor by absorbing rural territory, the former gaining Mount Barker and the latter a large area that includes Northampton and Mullewa.

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.

14 comments on “Western Australian draft state redistribution”

  1. What is with the name change, like anything, even the ridiculous Brabham, would be better than Swan Hills but why just one name change?

  2. @WWP: Actually there’s 7-8 name changes depending on how you count them, as shown in the table at the bottom of William’s post. Why he singled out just the Swan Hills change in the first paragraph I don’t know.

    Complete list on page 12 of the report:

    In each case the change seems to have been made due to movement of seat boundaries away from the original source of the name, with the seat renamed over whatever is in the middle of the seat or most prominent in the seat now.

  3. Fair points I guess, the Swan Hills change seems to be screaming out it is not like the others, unless there are a lot of labor factional flunkies / operatives registered to vote giving the national park as their address, making the national park the heart of the electorate.

  4. I think that should read “leaving the Liberals on two”.
    I would have liked some more indigenous names for electorates.

  5. Link here:


    That new Mid West district is crazy. From Coral Bay in the north (but not Exmouth?) to the northern edge of Perth, but not Geraldton. Biggest town in it is probably Carnarvon. If Shane Love wins it, and keeps his current office in Dongara, he’ll represent people both a long day’s drive north and three hours’ drive south… but not Geraldton, less than an hour’s drive away. No doubt the Nats will be screaming blue murder about that.

    The combined area of Geraldton and Mid West could be a northern and a southern seat (let’s call them Murchison and Greenough), splitting the city of Geraldton down the middle. It ditches an electorate name that goes back to 1890 and is kinda ugly, but doesn’t fail on community of interest grounds quite as badly. (This would be similar to the way Collie-Preston and Murray-Wellington both contain outer suburbs of Bunbury, rather than having a compact Australind/Eaton seat and a big rural one.) I imagine splitting Geraldton wasn’t considered, and this is the result. The fact that Geraldton only borders one other seat doesn’t help.

    Given that Perth is going to keep growing and the rest of the state isn’t, parliament needs to be enlarged. There’s only so much you can stretch regional seats before it gets silly like this.

  6. The Commissioners have spent a lot of time explaining why the “trend of demographic change” has effectively been the dominant consideration. The “transfer” of an electorate from the non-metropolitan to metropolitan was going to happen next redistribution, if not this one.

    I think the Commissioners have found a very good solution to the problem of how to deal with the low population density at the heart of the state. It could lead to a very large district with a very low human enrolment. Although allowed under the Electoral Act, it has a flow on effect by increasing the enrolment size of metropolitan and south-west electorates. The proposed Mid-West is a good solution. Though the name is a bit of a yawn. Why not Useless Loop?

  7. “Given that Perth is going to keep growing and the rest of the state isn’t, parliament needs to be enlarged. There’s only so much you can stretch regional seats before it gets silly like this.”

    I agree the Parliament could be expanded significantly, and well they could build a new Parliament House somewhere and put the current building to an actually useful application, say 10 pin bowling!

  8. Mchael: I don’t have an issue with transferring a seat from the country to the city, more the way it’s been done here. (My idea in the second para is making two seats out of the current NWC, Moore and Geraldton.)

  9. “Mchael: I don’t have an issue with transferring a seat from the country to the city, more the way it’s been done here. (My idea in the second para is making two seats out of the current NWC, Moore and Geraldton.)”

    The principle should be one vote one value, the rest is just mechanics performed by an independent body.

  10. Elsewhere:

    The new Secret Harbour seat crosses the Rockingham / Mandurah LGA boundary, which wasn’t previously possible. That pushes Warnbro into Baldivis (hence the name change), and the half of Baldivis north of Safety Bay Rd goes to Kwinana (which also gains Wellard and loses the southern fringe of Cockburn, which makes plenty of sense). That’s how quick Baldivis has grown… a suburb that wasn’t there 20 years ago is now too big to fit in one seat that was created for it just eight years ago. The pre-2008 seat of Peel probably covers three whole seats now.

    Mindarie is back, although it’s only the southern half of the old seat (the northern half staying on as Butler) – the area north of Tamala Park tip is good for two seats these days. Again, both seats were in Wanneroo before 2008.

    Girrawheen didn’t stay gone for long. Only four years after it shifted north enough to lose the suburb it’s named after and got renamed Landsdale, Mirrabooka slides up there and gets renamed in turn. It’s probably pretty close to the version of Girrawheen that existed 20 years ago.

    Central Wheatbelt has lost a slice on the south to Roe and gained something similar, but slightly smaller, from Moore. That knocks it down from 102,127 to 96,617 sq km, below the threshold for the Large District Allowance (100,000 sq km), so now only five seats get that.

    The LDA also makes some funny looking boundaries between Kalgoorlie, Kimberley and Mid West – random lines of latitude and longitude instead of shire boundaries. Example: part of the shire of Menzies with no enrolled electors shifts from Kalgoorlie to Mid West – no people, but one ghost elector for every 66.7 sq km apparently adds up.

    Some name changes I’d like to see:

    Cockburn: Once upon a time this seat covered the whole council and coast of Cockburn Sound, now it’s one of several. Maybe Beeliar – named after the lake, suburb and major road through it, plus it ticks a box for anyone who wants more Aboriginal names.

    Darling Range: most of the hills aren’t in this seat any more. Might as well be Serpentine (after the local council and the river). There was a previous Serpentine-Jarrahdale for a term in the same general area.

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