Thursday, 4 December 2014
Which NSW federal electorate will disappear in the electoral boundary redistribution currently underway?
The are 48 federal electorates within New South Wales with 48 sitting Members of Parliament.
As part of the current Australian Electoral Commission boundary redistribution process begun this month, one of these electorates will be removed from the map below before the 2016 federal general election.
Which one will it be?
ABC election commentator Antony Green suggests that it may be the Riverina electorate which will disappear completely.
However, a number of boundaries will have to be adjusted and The Sydney Morning Herald reported on 1 December 2014 :
Political pundits believe the biggest effects will be felt in the upper Hunter Valley and lower North Coast of NSW where enrolments have fallen the most dramatically.
This redistribution in NSW, WA and the ACT would not favour either an early federal election as Green points out or an unexpected by-election and, for the NSW North Coast would be particularly complicated:
The redistribution process will then take about nine months for NSW, possibly shorter for Western Australia. This will be an annoying complication for the Abbott government if it chooses to use any available trigger to request a double dissolution in 2015.
An early election in a state with an unchanged seat entitlement has no complications. The existing electoral boundaries would be used.
But under a High Court ruling from the 1970s, if a state's entitlement to seats in the House changes, then the changed number of members must be elected for the state at the next election.
This means that if an election is called mid-way through a redistribution in a state with changed entitlement to seats, then a method needs to be used to create or abolish a seat while leaving other boundaries in place.
The mechanism that has been in the Commonwealth Electoral Act since 1984, but to date never used, is a 'mini-redistribution'.
In a state set to lose a seat, the two adjacent electorates with the lowest enrolment would be amalgamated into a single electorate.
In a state set to gain an electorate, the two neighbouring electorates with the highest enrolment would be quickly divided into three electorates.
How would this operate in New South Wales ......based on enrolments at the end of June 2014?
On current enrolments, the National held seats of Page and Cowper on the north coast of NSW would be amalgamated into a single seat called Cowper-Page. On June statistics this joined seat would have an enrolment of 192,530.
The next four possible amalgamations would be Page-Richmond (192,839), Newcastle-Shortland (193,795), Farrer-Riverina (193,929) and Lyne-Paterson (194,377). Only one pairing of electorates would be merged, but which two will depend on enrolments when the election is called.
Cowper-Page combines two National held seats, Newcastle-Shortland combines two Labor held seats, Page-Richmond combines a Labor and National seat, while Farrer-Riverina and Lyne-Paterson combine a Liberal held and National held seat.....
A double dissolution after the determination date but before the boundaries were finalised would require a mini-redistribution. That means this messy process would be used for a double dissolution between the end of 2014 and the last quarter of 2015.