7 May 2019

Labor set to object to redrawing of ACT electoral boundaries

| Ian Bushnell
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The Labor Party is expected to lodge an objection to the electoral boundaries proposed by Elections ACT for the 2020 ACT Legislative Assembly election, in a redistribution that appears to favour the Canberra Liberals.

Labor will focus particularly on the reallocation of wealthy inner south suburbs Yarralumla and Deakin to the Woden and Weston Creek based electorate of Murrumbidgee.

ACT Labor secretary Matt Byrne said residents of Yarralumla and Deakin would not receive effective representation being part of an electorate which is predominantly focused on Woden, Weston Creek and the Molonglo Valley and separated from their shared community of interest with the rest of the inner south.

“We believe that there is sufficient flexibility in the legislation to ensure that communities of interest such as those in the inner south can be represented within the same electoral division,” Mr Byrne said. “We understand that the Redistribution Committee is keeping an eye on the future growth of the ACT and is trying to accommodate that growth within electoral boundaries, however we don’t believe that this is sufficient reason for such a major change at this time.”

Elections ACT has not made any changes to the names of the five electorates – Brindabella, Ginninderra, Kurrajong, Murrumbidgee and Yerrabi.

Electoral Commissioner Damian Cantwell said enrolment in each electorate must be within +/- 5% of the determined quota at the time of the next election.

“This requirement is aimed at ensuring ‘one vote, one value’,” Mr Cantwell said. “The quota is 1/5 of the ACT total enrolment. Each of the proposed electorates meets this requirement.”

The move of Yarralumla and Deakin from the central electorate of Kurrajong to Murrumbidgee was necessitated by the unprecedented decision to split the large southern suburb of Kambah east and west down Drakeford Drive.

Kambah East goes to Murrumbidgee, while the rest of Kambah goes to Tuggeranong-based Brindabella.

The Canberra Liberals should be happy after arguing in its submission to the redistribution committee for Deakin to join Murrumbidgee, while Labor reluctantly opted for Red Hill to go to that electorate, questioning the practicality of moving a single suburb into an electorate with little common interest.

The committee agreed unanimously that Yarralumla and Deakin both hold a strong connection with the Woden Valley through transport links via Adelaide Avenue and Yarra Glen; and economic and social links via the Woden Town Centre, their main shopping hub.

It argues that these links are stronger than those held by the residents of Red Hill and the option of including Hume, Jerrabomberra district, Symonston, Narrabundah, Oaks Estate and Beard within Brindabella.

President of the Canberra Liberals John Cziesla said the inclusion of Deakin and Yarralumla in the Murrumbidgee electorate was a logical outcome given the key redistribution requirement that each electorate be within +/- 5% of the quota at the time of the next election.

“The inclusion of Yarralumla along with Deakin will create a distinct and strong inner south community of interest within the Murrumbidgee electorate,” he said.

But the Deakin Residents Association is upset after arguing that the suburbs have a strong community of interest with the inner south and should remain in Kurrajong.

Both the main parties believed Kambah East should be in Brindabella, but the committee, while agreeing the Kambah needed to be split, went the other way.

“The Committee unanimously held the view that splitting Kambah east/west down Drakeford Drive was the most appropriate solution for addressing the quota requirements of Brindabella,” the committee’s report says.

It argues that Kambah West is the most appropriate segment of Kambah to be included in Brindabella, being closer to the Tuggeranong Town Centre within Greenway. “Kambah East has a greater proportion geographically closer to the other suburbs within Murrumbidgee, with strong communication links with Weston Creek and Woden Valley via Drakeford Drive/Tuggeranong Parkway and Athllon Drive,” the report says.

Mr Cziesla said the splitting of Kambah between two electorates was unfortunate, but population growth in Woden and the Molonglo Valley will likely see all of Kambah included in the Brindabella electorate in a future redistribution.

In the north, McKellar, Lawson and Evatt have been reallocated to Belconnen-based Ginninderra, with Kaleen and Giralang remaining in the Gungahlin-based Yerrabi.

Both Labor and the Liberals had argued for Evatt, McKellar and Belconnen District 2 to be added to Ginninderra.

The committee says at least 5764 electors were required to be moved to Ginninderra, but no more than 7701. It proposes that Evatt (3852 projected electors) and McKellar (2086 projected electors) go to Ginninderra, as well as Lawson (1378 projected electors) and that portion of Belconnen District adjacent to the Barton Highway (5 projected electors) due to community of interest, a total of 7321.

Reallocating either Giralang or Kaleen in conjunction with the other suburbs would take Ginninderra over quota, it says.

Mr Byrne said ACT Labor accepted the proposal to split Kambah and move the western side of the suburb into Brindabella, and broadly accepted the proposal to move Mackellar, Evatt and Lawson from Yerrabi into Ginninderra.

Mr Cziesla said the proposal to include Evatt and McKellar in the electorate of Ginninderra reflected those suburbs’ strong connection with the Belconnen area.

At 29 March 2019 there were 292,311 electors on the roll for the ACT. The quota for the five-Member electorates is 58,462, the permitted minimum enrolment (not less than 90% of the quota) is 52,616, and the permitted maximum enrolment (not greater than 110% of the quota) is 64,308.

The ABS projects that there will be 299,081 electors on the roll for the ACT in October 2020, and the quota is 59,816, the permitted minimum enrolment (not less than 95% of the quota) is 56,825, and the permitted maximum enrolment (not greater than 105% of the quota) is 62,806.

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

Objections should be lodged by Monday 3 June 2019 and will be considered by the Augmented Electoral Commission, which consists of the four members of the Redistribution Committee and the other two members of the ACT Electoral Commission, the Chairperson, Dawn Casey, and the other member, Philip Moss.

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“…ACT Labor secretary Matt Byrne said residents of Yarralumla and Deakin would not receive effective representation [by the change]…”

Well, Oaks Estate has never received ANY representation from Barr or Stephen-Smith in Kurrajong. Neither of them (a) come out here and (b) ever lifted a finger to improve the staggering levels of disadvantage here. 54% public housing, +50% unemployment, no ACTION bus, crime rates 10 to 500 times higher than elsewhere.

Byrne’s comment doesn’t stack up with his professed concerns for effective representation.

Should be “Labor set to object to unstacking of electoral boundaries”.

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