26 April 2019

Calls to split off inner south suburbs to Murrumbidgee electorate

| Ian Bushnell
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The ACT Legislative Assembly’s electoral boundaries are being redrawn in preparation for the 17 October 2020 election. File photo.

Calls from the ACT’s main political parties to split off inner south suburbs from their current electorate of Kurrajong to Murrumbidgee have been rejected by community organisations.

In submissions to Elections ACT’s current redistribution for the 2020 election, the Labor Party argues for Red Hill to go to Murrumbidgee, while the Liberal Party says Deakin should be part of that electorate.

Labor also says Kambah East should be redistributed to Brindabella, to balance out the fast-growing Molonglo district with the slower rate of growth in the Tuggeranong district, and this necessitates a need to look at the boundaries for Kurrajong and Murrumbidgee.

It says Red Hill shares the Red Hill Nature Reserve with Garran and Hughes which provides a natural link to connect these suburbs, and it is also connected to Murrumbidgee via Hindmarsh Drive.

The Liberals also see no alternative to splitting Kambah, with the eastern portion going to Brindabella, but they see Deakin as the main contender for change, saying it has strong links to the Murrumbidgee electorate and is well served by transport links to that electorate.

“Woden Town Centre also serves as the main shopping hub for Deakin residents and Deakin is therefore a good fit with the community of interest centred on the Woden Valley district,” the party says.

But the Deakin Residents Association and the Inner South Canberra Community Council are having none of it, saying there is no need to change the boundaries and there is a strong community of interest among the inner south suburbs.

DRA president George Wilson says that while it may make political sense for the Liberal Party to move Deakin and Labor to move Red Hill, such changes do not make geographical sense for Deakin residents or politically, considering the heritage and planning issues that are relevant to them.

“Deakin is a unique garden suburb with strong heritage issues similar to surrounding suburbs and unlike many of those in the Woden area,” he says.

“Parts of Deakin are covered by NCA planning zones and rules which overlap with ACT Government planning requirements and as such have a close affiliation with Forrest and other inner south suburbs.”

ISCCC Chair Marea Fatseas says the projected population of the Kurrajong electorate in 2020 is still within the acceptable range for the size of an electorate and no compelling rationale has been provided for any change.

“There is a community of interest between the current inner south suburbs, which would not be served by a change,” she says.

Submissions have closed and the Redistribution Committee will consider them before publishing a proposed redistribution of the ACT’s electoral boundaries in mid-2019. The public will then have 28 days in which to object to the proposed boundaries.

The ACT Legislative Assembly’s electoral boundaries are being redrawn in preparation for the 17 October 2020 election.

The Redistribution Committee consists of the Electoral Commissioner, Damian Cantwell; the ACT Planning and Land Authority’s Ben Ponton; the ACT Surveyor-General Jeff Brown; and the Director of Demography, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Beidar Cho.


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