BludgerTrack: 52.1-47.9 to Labor

Little change this week to a poll aggregate that now comes with the added bonus of One Nation. Also featured: South Australian and Northern Territory redistribution news.

Results from Newspoll and Essential Research have elicited next to no change on BludgerTrack, at least so far as the results are concerned – negligible movement all round on voting intention, although what’s there is enough for the Coalition to claw back a seat in Queensland on the projection. Newspoll provides a set of leadership numbers as always, and here too their effect is negligible.


What is new on BludgerTrack is that it’s now tracking One Nation, although the only hard data here is that Essential Research has been providing since the start of September. Polls that don’t report One Nation still have some influence on them through their “others” results, and the estimated results for them show up as data points on the chart. I’ve implemented a bit of a cheat to get the One Nation trendline started from the beginning by using their national Senate vote of 4.3% as a post-election starting point. However, the “since election” reading on the tables goes off the national House of Representatives result of 1.3%, which is unflattering to them as they only fielded 15 candidates.

Two bits of electoral boundaries news to relate:

• The redistribution of the two federal seats in the Northern Territory has been finalised, with no changes made to September’s draft proposal. Three thousand voters have been transferred from growing Solomon (covering Darwin and Palmerston) to stagnant Lingiari (covering the remainder of the territory), in an area encompassing Yarrawonga, Farrar, Johnston and Zuccoli at the eastern edge of Palmerston, together with the Litchfield Shire areas around Knuckey Lagoon east of Darwin. To the very limited extent that this will have an electoral effect, it will be to strengthen Labor in Solomon and weaken them in Lingiari, the area transferred being conservative-leaning.

• The South Australian state redistribution has been finalised, with a large number of changes made to the draft published in August. These are largely to the benefit of the Liberals, who stand aggrieved by their failure to win government in 2014 despite winning the two-party vote by 53-47. The draft redrew the Labor marginals of Elder and Mawson to make them notionally Liberal. However, they did the opposite in Fisher, a normally conservative-leaning seat that Labor managed to win at a by-election in December 2014 after the death of independent member Bob Such. This seat has been renamed Hurtle Vale, and pushed southwards into the Labor-voting Morphett Vale area.

The new set of changes adds a further two seats to the Liberal column, most notably Colton, where Labor cops a transfer of 8000 voters from Glenelg North and West Beach (currently in Morphett), turning the Labor margin of 2% into a Liberal margin of 3.7%. The other seat is Newland, where there was so little in it that a further 200 voters in Humbug Scrub have been enough to nudge it to the Liberal side of the pendulum. There has also been a further boost to the Liberal margin in Elder, where gains around Lower Mitcham in the east (currently in Waite) push the margin out from 1.1% to 4.3%.

The Liberals has also benefited in Adelaide, where the reversal of a proposal to move Walkerville out of the electorate leaves the margin at 2.0%, compared with 2.5% at the election and 0.6% in the draft; and in the Labor-held seat of Lee, where an extra 4000 voters from Colton reduce the Labor margin from 4.6% to 2.6%.

Essential Research: 52-48 to Labor

A new poll suggests voters want parliament to legislate for same-sex marriage if they can’t get their favoured option of a plebiscite, as the Coalition primary vote maintains a slow downward trend.

This week’s Essential Research finds the Coalition down a point on the primary vote to 37%, Labor steady on 37%, the Greens steady on 10%, One Nation up one to 6% and the Nick Xenophon Team steady on 4%, with two-party preferred unchanged at 52-48 in favour of Labor. The poll also finds 53% favouring a vote by parliament on same-sex marriage in the event that the Senate blocks a plebiscite, with only 29% opposed. Support for the proposed plebiscite question, “should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”, is at 60% with 30% opposed, compared with results of 57% and 28% when the same question was posed a month ago. Only 22% of respondents supported the goverment’s plan for $7.5 million of advertising to be provided for both sides of the argument, with 68% opposed. When asked about the biggest threats to job security in Australia, 31% nominated “free trade deals that allow foreign workers into the Australian market”, 23% companies using labour hire and contracting out, 18% the impact of technological change, and high wages in last place on 11%.

In other news, I mean to start shaking myself out of a spell of post-election laziness, so I’ll have BludgerTrack back in one form or another next week. In the meantime, I have the following to relate:

The Australian reports that factional arrangements ensure that Stephen Conroy’s own sub-faction of the Victorian Right will decide his successor when he vacates his Senate seat on September 30. That seems to bode well for his ally Mehmet Tillem, who previously served in the Senate from late 2013 until mid-2014, when he served out David Feeney’s term after he moved to the lower house seat of Batman at the September 2013 election. However, some in the party are said to be arguing that the position should go to a woman, specifically to Stefanie Perri, the former Monash mayor who ran unsuccessfully in Chisholm at the recent election.

• A draft redistribution proposal has been published for the Northern Territory’s two electorates, in which early 3000 voters are to be transferred from growing Solomon (covering Darwin and Palmerston) to stagnant Lingiari (covering the remainder of the territory). The transfer encompasses Yarrawonga, Farrar, Johnston and Zuccoli at the eastern edge of Palmerston, together with the Litchfield Shire areas around Knuckey Lagoon immediately east of Darwin. This is a conservative area, so the change would strengthen Labor in Solomon and weaken them in Lingiari.

• A redistribution for the five electorates in Tasmania is in its earliest stages, with a period for preliminary public suggestions to run from November 2 to December 5.

• The Liberal National Party announced last week it would not challenge its 37 vote defeat in the Townsville-based seat of Herbert, despite complaints from Senator Ian Macdonald that the Australian Eleectoral Commission had promised hospital patients it would take their votes on polling day without delivering, and that students outside the electorate were denied absent votes because the required envelopes were not available. The 40-day deadline for lodgement of a challenge closed on Saturday.

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.

Draft federal redistribution of New South Wales

Draft boundaries for the federal redistribution of New South Wales propose the abolition of Joel Fitzgibbon’s seat of Hunter.


I’ve now tightened up the estimated margins, a full accounting of which can be seen in this spreadsheet, which also features primary vote results. I now have Labor coming up quite a bit stronger in Paterson, for some reason to the extent of having a notional margin there of 1.5%.

Banks 47.4% -0.8%
Barton 57.5% +7.8%
Bennelong 42.2% +0.0%
Berowra 31.0% +0.0%
Blaxland 59.6% -1.8%
Bradfield 28.7% -0.5%
Calare 35.3% +1.3%
Chifley 61.1% +0.6%
Cook 32.8% -0.8%
Cowper 37.0% -1.2%
Cunningham 61.8% +1.9%
Dobell 50.5% +1.1%
Eden-Monaro 47.3% -2.1%
Farrer 28.5% -4.1%
Fowler 67.7% +0.9%
Gilmore 46.1% -1.3%
Grayndler 64.2% -6.1%
Greenway 52.7% -0.3%
Hughes 38.2% -1.1%
Hume 38.1% -0.4%
Hunter (Charlton) 56.1% +2.5%
Kingsford Smith 52.7% +0.0%
Lindsay 47.0% +0.0%
Lyne 35.9% +0.7%
Macarthur 46.7% +8.0%
Mackellar 31.2% +0.0%
Macquarie 45.5% +0.0%
McMahon 52.1% -3.3%
Mitchell 28.7% +0.7%
New England 29.8% +0.5%
Newcastle 59.3% +0.5%
North Sydney 34.6% +0.4%
Page 47.0% -0.5%
Parkes 30.4% +2.8%
Parramatta 52.3% +1.7%
Paterson 51.5% +11.3%
Reid 49.0% -0.1%
Richmond 51.8% -1.1%
Riverina 31.0% +2.1%
Robertson 46.8% -0.2%
Shortland 57.2% +0.0%
Sydney 63.3% -1.4%
Warringah 34.5% -0.1%
Watson 59.2% +2.4%
Wentworth 32.1% -0.2%
Werriwa 56.7% +4.5%
Whitlam (Throsby) 56.9% -0.8%

Original post

The AEC has just published long-awaited draft boundaries for the federal redistribution of New South Wales, which reduces the state’s representation from 48 seats to 47. The seat proposed for the chop is Joel Fitzgibbon’s seat of Hunter – although the name will be kept alive by renaming the neighbouring seat of Charlton. Notably:

Paterson (Bob Baldwin, Liberal). The abolition of the Hunter region seat causes Paterson to be drawn into a strongly Labor area, turning a 9.8% Liberal margin into a 0.5% margin.

Barton (Nick Varvaris, Liberal). The other big Liberal loser is Nick Varvaris, who did well to win the inner southern Sydney seat of Barton in 2013. The seat stands to lose the Liberal-voting area around Sans Souci at the southern end, and be pushed into Labor-Greens voting Marrickville and its surrounds closer to the city.

Eden-Monaro (Peter Hendy, Liberal). This seat is to be very strikingly redrawn, losing territory at the northern coastal end to Gilmore and gaining areas to the west and north of the ACT.

Macarthur (Russell Matheson, Liberal). The Liberal margin in this outer south-western Sydney seat has been slashed by the exchange of semi-rural areas for outer suburban territory around Minto and Eagle Vale.

Grayndler (Anthony Albanese, Labor). Albanese’s seat has been drawn towards the inner-city, gaining the Rozelle area and losing southern Marrickville and surrounding suburbs to Barton in the south, along with Summer Hill and surrounds to Watson in the west. This cuts his margin against the Liberals by 6.2%, but the greater threat here is from the Greens, and the changes have presumably intensified it (UPDATE: Apparently not, actually – the Greens vote in Balmain especially was curiously subdued at the last election).

Parramatta (Julie Owens, Labor). The changes here are modest, but Labor’s Julie Owens will enjoy the 0.8% boost to her 0.6% margin.

Page (Kevin Hogan, Nationals). Loses Ballina to Richmond at its northern coastal end, and gains the coast north of Coffs Harbour from Cowper in the south. Kevin Hogan won this seat for the Nationals from Labor in 2013, and he’s now had a helpful boost to his margin from 2.5% to 3.8%.

McMahon (Chris Bowen, Labor). Bowen was cut a little fine in this typically safe Labor seat in western Sydney in 2013, and now he’s been damaged by the transfer of Fairfield to Fowler, taking his margin from 5.3% to 2.4%.

ReachTEL: 50-50

Malcolm Turnbull’s first opinion poll as Prime Minister records a strong bounce in the Coalition’s favour, without going all the way.

The first opinion poll of the Malcolm Turnbull era is a ReachTEL survey of 3278 respondents conducted for the Seven Network last night, and it has the two parties tied on two-party preferred, which is at the milder end of what I would have expected from the Turnbull bounce. It compares with leads to Labor of 53-47 in the last two polls under Tony Abbott. The primary votes are Coalition 43.3% (up 3.0%), Labor 35.9% (down 1.6%) and Greens 11.9% (down 1.5%). However, Malcolm Turnbull records a clear 61.9-38.1 lead over Bill Shorten as preferred prime minister, whereas Shorten had consistently strong leads over Tony Abbott in this particular series – of 57.9-42.1 at the most recent poll on August 28. Shorten’s rating on the five-point satisfaction scale has also taken a hit, with his combined good plus very good rating down 4.6% to 18.9%, satisfactory steady on 32.5%, and poor plus very poor up 4.6% to 48.7%. Respondents were asked to rate “the performance of Tony Abbott as Prime Minister” rather than Malcolm Turnbull, and it found little change in his ratings at 27.8% for very good or good, 18.8% for satisfactory, and 53.4% for poor or very poor.

Also today, Roy Morgan unloaded its final tranche of polling conducted over the weekend, departing from its normal routine of accumulating two weekends of polling before publishing a combined a result. This poll also does not feature the usual SMS component, consisting purely of face-to-face polling, for a sample of 826 compared with its usual 3000-plus. Labor’s primary vote was up a point on the previous Morgan poll to 36.5%, with the Coalition down 1.5% to 35%, and the Greens down half-a-point to a still-imposing 16%. Labor’s two-party lead on respondent-allocated preferences blew out from 55-45 to 57-43, and rose from 55.5-44.5 to 56.5-43.5 on previous election preferences.

The BludgerTrack poll aggregate on the sidebar has been updated with the latest Essential and Morgan results to produce a concluding result for Tony Abbott’s prime ministership. This records a 0.2% shift to Labor on two-party preferred compared with last week, and credits Labor with single gains on the seat projection in New South Wales and Western Australia. There were, however, no new results on the leadership ratings.

Also of note: the Australian Electoral Commission published draft boundaries on Friday for a redistribution of the Australian Capital Territory’s two seats. This is chiefly notable for proposing that the electorate of Fraser, held for Labor by Andrew Leigh, be renamed Fenner, in honour of virologist Professor Frank Fenner. The rationale is that the name Fraser should be freed up for use in the next redistribution in Victoria, in honour of the late Malcolm Fraser. More substantively, the redistribution proposes the transfer of the city centre and the southern parts of Turner and Braddon immediately to the north, together with Reid and Campbell to the east. This involves the transfer of around 10,000 voters from Fraser to Canberra (which is held for Labor by Gai Brodtmann), leaving Labor’s two-party margin in Fraser unchanged at 12.6%, while increasing the Canberra margin from 7.0% to 7.4%.

WA federally redistributed

Draft boundaries for the redistribution that grants Western Australia an extra House of Representatives propose the new electorate of Burt for Perth’s southern suburbs, which has a notional Liberal margin of about 5%.

The Australian Electoral Commission has published draft boundaries for the federal redistribution of Western Australia, whereby the state will gain a sixteenth House of Representatives seat. The full report is available here; stay tuned to this post, because I will add further analysis to it over the next few hours. For those of you in the TL;DR camp, the new seat of Burt in Perth’s southern suburbs has a Liberal margin of around 5% – this makes it winnable for Labor, which both sides would have had that factored in. I imagine the Liberals would be slightly happier than Labor all round since their position has been improved in Hasluck and Swan, while deteriorating in Cowan.

Here are estimates of the Liberal 2PP based on the new boundaries, based on 2013 polling booth results (without having taken the effort to split booths located near boundaries) and further calculations based on how non-booth votes differed from booth-votes:

Brand 47.1% 46.4%
Burt 54.8%
Canning 61.8% 62.9%
Cowan 57.5% 54.0%
Curtin 67.4% 68.5%
Durack 64.9% 65.3%
Forrest 62.3% 64.1%
Fremantle 45.2% 44.0%
Hasluck 54.9% 56.0%
Moore 61.9% 62.6%
O’Connor 67.2% 64.9%
Pearce 58.1% 59.7%
Perth 45.6% 47.4%
Stirling 60.3% 59.2%
Swan 56.5% 57.6%
Tangney 64.7% 63.1%

I’ll be progressively adding seats to the following summaries in rough order of interest:

New seat: Liberal 4.8%

Both parties’ submissions recommended that the new electorate be located in the south-east of Perth, and Burt essentially delivers to order, extending from Langford and Thornlie in the north through Canning Vale and Kelmscott to Armadale. Hasluck (Thornlie, Gosnells, Southern River) and Canning (Kelmscott, Armadale, Forrestdale) provide a bit under 40% each, with most of the rest coming from Tangney (Canning Vale). The latter provided the Liberals’ strongest booths in 2013, while Labor had slight majorities around Huntingdale. The Armadale booths slightly favoured the Liberals, which presumably tells you something about the strength of Don Randall’s personal vote, because Armadale is Labor’s safest seat at state level.

Old margin: Liberal 4.9%
New margin: Liberal 6.0%

The Liberal submission proposed that Hasluck be compensated for territories lost to the new seat extending far to the east, and the proposal goes half way to accommodating this by adding a swathe of the Darling Range including Mundaring – even if it doesn’t go all the way to Northam and the Avon Valley, as the Liberals optimistically proposed. This adds a handy boost to the Liberal member Ken Wyatt in a seat that would, at a median election, be a marginal Labor seat.

Old margin: Liberal 6.5%
New margin: Liberal 7.6%

All the residential areas near the boundary of this electorate are relatively strong for Labor, so it was always likely that the garnishing of the electorate was going to hurt their cause. So it has proved, with the Labor-voting Ferndale, Lynwood, Langford and Beckenham area in the electorate’s south-east, which accounted for 8.5% of its enrolment, being divided between Burt, Hasluck and Tangney.

Old margin: Liberal 7.5%
New margin: Liberal 4.0%

Much better news for Labor in the seat held by Luke Simpkins, who was a prime mover in the February spill motion. The tendency of the electorate is to be stronger for the Liberals in the west and for Labor in the east; the redistribution has carved out Woodvale and Kingsley at the western end, which are now wasted areas of Liberal strength in the already safe seat of Moore, while in the east, Beechboro and Lockridge are gained from Perth.

Old margin: Liberal 10.3%
New margin: Liberal 9.2%

The inner northern suburbs seat of Stirling used to be fiercely contested, but the Liberal margin has progressively blown out since Michael Keenan gained it in 2013. In a somewhat similar story to Cowan, the electorate has weakened Keenan a little by sending Doubleview and Innaloo in the west to Curtin, and adding eastern Dianella at the eastern end from Perth.


Old margin: Liberal 11.8%
New margin: Liberal 12.9%

About a third of the old electorate, namely the part around Armadale, is transferred to Burt, and it’s the strongest area for Labor. However, the redistribution has also sensibly ceded to Canning the part of Mandurah that was formerly in Brand, and this too is a pretty good area for Labor. Gains from Hasluck, Pearce and O’Connor look substantial on the map, but account for few voters.

Old margin: Labor 2.9%
New margin: Labor 3.6%

As just noted, the electorate has sensibly been cut down to size by transferring its Mandurah territory at the southern end to Canning, which is slightly to the advantage of Labor member Gary Gray.

New South Wales federally redistributed: act one

The major political parties, plus other interested observers, have put in their requests for the redistribution that will cut New South Wales from 48 House of Representatives seats to 47.

The Australian Electoral Commission has published public suggestions for its New South Wales redistribution process, which the redistribution commissioners will now chew on as they prepare a set of draft boundaries.

Labor is proposing that the state’s 48 electorates be reduced to the requisite 47 by pulling the rug from under Liberal member Bob Baldwin, whose seat of Paterson is a little further to the north of the under-enrolled Hunter region, whose seats Labor predictably wants left intact. Labor also wants a rearrangement of western Sydney to create a new seat called Whitlam while abolishing Fowler, contrary to expectations that it might have proposed that Whitlam’s old seat of Werriwa be renamed in his honour. It also proposes that Riverina, held for the Nationals by Michael McCormack, be renamed Bradman, in recognition of the great man’s birth place of Cootamundra. The Liberal submission is taking forever to download, so watch this space for more on that. (UPDATE: Predictably enough, it proposes the abolition of Joel Fitzgibbon’s seat of Hunter.)

I’ll have much, much more to add on these submissions on this post later this evening, or maybe sooner. Labor has helpfully provided mapping software files with its submission, so I’ll be able to unpack its proposal in relatively short order.

UPDATE: Make that tomorrow. In the meantime, Labor redistribution specialist Shane Easson has been offering some insight into proceedings in comments.

UPDATE 2 (30/5): That took quite a while longer than I thought, but below at last are interactive maps of the proposals (or try here for a closer look). The three layers for the Labor and Liberal submissions along with the existing boundaries can be switched on and off by clicking “visible layers”. The Liberal boundaries are off base in a few places due to my need for them to conform with ABS statistical local area boundaries (at least as I perceived it at the time), but the inaccuracies are invariably in places that are populated lightly if at all. Notional Coalition two-party results for the proposed boundaries are listed below the map.

2013 Liberal Labor
Banks 51.8% 52.2% 53.7%
Barton 50.3% 50.4% 49.9%
Bennelong 57.8% 57.8% 57.8%
Berowra 69.1% 69.1% 69.7%
Blaxland 38.6% 37.2% 37.2%
Bradfield 70.8% 70.9% 70.8%
Calare 66.0% 55.8% 65.6%
Charlton 40.8% 37.9% 40.7%
Chifley 39.5% 41.2% 38.9%
Cook 66.4% 66.3% 67.2%
Cowper 61.7% 62.1% 63.2%
Cunningham 40.1% 43.4% 48.0%
Dobell 50.7% 50.9% 50.8%
Eden-Monaro 50.6% 50.8% 50.7%
Farrer 67.4% 67.4% 71.3%
Fowler 33.2% 31.7% Abolished
Gilmore 52.6% 55.0% 52.7%
Grayndler 29.7% 28.0% 32.1%
Greenway 47.0% 44.3% 47.9%
Hughes 60.7% 61.5% 46.6%
Hume 61.5% 61.2% 61.0%
Hunter 46.3% Abolished 45.7%
Kingsford Smith 47.3% 47.8% 47.4%
Lindsay 53.0% 54.3% 54.5%
Lyne 64.8% 65.0% 63.0%
Macarthur 61.4% 62.0% 61.4%
Mackellar 68.8% 68.9% 68.9%
Macquarie 54.5% 58.7% 55.7%
McMahon 44.7% 44.9% 41.2%
Mitchell 72.1% 71.0% 72.1%
New England 70.7% 67.8% 70.2%
Newcastle 41.2% 41.4% 44.7%
North Sydney 65.9% 65.7% 66.0%
Page 52.5% 57.8% 55.3%
Parkes 72.3% 71.8% 70.1%
Parramatta 49.4% 47.1% 45.4%
Paterson 59.8% 56.4% Abolished
Reid 50.9% 54.0% 49.4%
Richmond 47.0% 47.1% 47.2%
Riverina 71.2% 72.1% 69.0%
Robertson 53.0% 52.9% 52.2%
Shortland 42.8% 43.0% 44.1%
Sydney 35.3% 38.7% 39.0%
Throsby 42.2% 36.4% 37.8%
Warringah 65.3% 65.4% 65.4%
Watson 43.2% 40.4% 45.0%
Wentworth 67.7% 67.8% 68.2%
Werriwa 47.8% 46.5% 45.7%
Whitlam 46.6%

Western Australia redistributed: act one

The major parties roll out their wish lists ahead of the redistribution that will grant Western Australia a sixteenth seat in the House of Representatives.

The first batch of submissions have been published for the Western Australian federal redistribution, which will facilitate the increase in the state’s seat entitlement from 15 to 16. Both Liberal and Labor agree that the new seat should be created through a division of Hasluck, which is presently a rather ungainly construction consisting of cross-sections of three suburban corridors in Perth’s east. The parties are also agreed that the southern electorate should encompass Thornlie, Kenwick and Gosnells together with the area around Armadale to the south, which presently makes the seat of Canning theoretically winnable for Labor, and that this should be the electorate that gets the new name. However, the Liberals would have the new electorate extend westwards into Jandakot, whereas Labor would prefer that it extend eastwards into the Darling Range at Roleystone. Either way, the seat would have a notional Liberal margin of around 3%.

Another disagreement concerns which late former Premier the new seat should be named after, with the Liberals favouring Court and Labor going for Tonkin (and not, as I might have anticipated, Beazley). Neither John Tonkin (1971-74) nor Sir Charles Court (1974-82) has any particular connection to the area that I’m aware of, but the Liberals’ choice would have the advantage of acknowledging two former premiers rather than one. On the other hand, Labor might well argue that it’s their turn, Hasluck (2001), Brand (1984) and Cowan (1984) all acknowledging figures from the conservative side of politics. Further to the left, there appears to be a campaign to have the seat named after Jo Vallentine, with Peter Garrett among those making submissions to that effect.

More substantive distinctions concern the manner in which Hasluck should be compensated for its losses. Labor wants the electorate to extend northwards, into the Swan Valley and as far as Ballajura to the west, whereas the Liberals propose that it should reach all the way east to the Avon Valley, extending through the Darling Range around Mundaring to Northam, York and Beverley – an area that presently accounts for a large part of Christian Porter’s seat of Pearce. Pearce would in turn be compensated by absorbing northern Perth suburbia around Wanneroo. This is at odds with the submission from the Nationals, who hope that Pearce might be made winnable for them by losing outer suburban territory while maintaining its overall shape, much of which corresponds with its state seats of Central Wheatbelt and Moore.

Both Liberal and Labor are presumably calculating that the new seat will more likely than not be won by Labor, who surely can’t go on performing as badly as they have at the last two elections indefinitely. However, the Liberal plan would add around 2.5% to their 5% margin in Hasluck, while hardly touching their 9% margin in Pearce (albeit that sedate country areas would be exchanged for the electorally volatile mortgage belt). Labor’s proposal would keep the margin in Hasluck in its existing ballpark, retaining the winnability of a seat it won upon its creation in 2001 and again in 2007. It would also maintain the seat’s consistently urban character, and hence makes considerably more sense on community of interest grounds.

Elsewhere, both sides recognise that the Liberals’ second most marginal seat, Swan (margin 6.5%), is not going to change much, since it is locked in place by by the Swan and Canning rivers – although a small amount of garnishing will be required to bring it within quota. In the traditionally marginal seat of Cowan (7.5%), Labor understandably wants its position strengthened through the addition of strong territory south of the boundary at Balga and Mirrabooka, which is presently being wasted for it in the increasingly safe Liberal seat of Stirling. However, Labor also proposes that Liberal-leaning territory out to Burns Beach be added to the electorate’s north-west, which looks awkward on the map and causes me to wonder if it’s intended to make their overall design for the seat appear less opportunistic. The Liberals’ proposals for the seat look broadly neutral to my eye.

It so happens that a state redistribution for Western Australia is also in its early stages. The quota determinations offer an interesting insight into the state’s demographic upheavals, with Butler on Perth’s northern coastal fringe fully 33.6% over the average enrolment, and the southern corridor seats of Kwinana (25.0%) and Warnbro (23.5%) not far behind. By contrast, the unwinding of the mining boom has caused enrolment to slump by 22.0% in North West Central and 16.4% in Kalgoorlie.

UPDATE: You can see the parties’ proposals on the maps of below, and select which layers you want to see by clicking on “visible layers”. For a bigger view, see here.