5 March 2023

To split or not to split: suggestions to change Kambah's electorate for 2024 election

| Claire Fenwicke
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Voting Elections ACT CMAG

Changes to electoral boundaries are open for comment ahead of the 2024 election. Photo: Region.

The Brindabella district could take on some new voters as Elections ACT considers boundaries ahead of the 2024 election.

The Redistribution Committee has received 19 submissions and has now called on the community to review them and add their comments.

Labor and the Canberra Liberals singled out Brindabella as an electorate that may need to be redrawn. This is because each electorate has representation in the Assembly proportionate to its voting population and Canberra’s population has changed since the last election.

Each electorate should contain one-fifth of the population, but they are legislatively allowed to be a few percentage points above or below the threshold.

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ACT Labor suggested all of Kambah be included in the Brindabella electorate to accommodate current and future growth in other areas.

The suburb was split into two parts for the 2020 election.

“It is our understanding when the boundaries were determined for the 2016 Election that it was expected Kambah would have to be relocated into Brindabella to balance out the fast-growing Molonglo district with the slower rate of growth in the Tuggeranong district,” secretary Ash van Dijk submitted on the party’s behalf.

“It appears that for 2024, the growth in the Murrumbidgee electorate and the lack of future growth in Brindabella will necessitate the inclusion of more suburbs into Brindabella.”

ACT Labor argued moving all of Kambah into the Brindabella electorate made sense as those who lived there were “more closely aligned” with Brindabella as a community rather than Murrumbidgee, and the Mount Taylor Nature Reserve served as a natural border between the two electorates.

“[W]hilst it would bring Brindabella over a quota, [it] would provide a buffer to slower growth in Brindabella into the future,” Mr van Dijk submitted.

“Whilst moving all of Kambah into Brindabella sees Murrumbidgee fall outside of the desired +/- 5 per cent range by the Electoral Commission, population projections highlight the Molonglo region will see the highest level of growth of any ACT region in coming years.”

ACT Labor submitted that the Kurrajong, Murrumbidgee, Yerrabi and Ginninderra boundaries could remain unchanged.

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The Canberra Liberals took a different approach, noting the challenges of slow population growth in Canberra’s south.

The party also singled out moving Kambah to satisfy quotas but advocated for it to remain split between the Brindabella and Murrumbidgee electorates, arguing there were “few practical alternatives”.

“While splitting a suburb is not ideal, other alternatives would also split communities of interest in ways that would not serve those communities well,” divisional director Kieran Douglas submitted.

“Given that future growth rates will likely result in a situation where the remainder of Kambah can be included in Brindabella in the 2027 redistribution, the Canberra Liberals believe including part of Kambah in Brindabella in this redistribution is a better alternative than taking a selection of suburbs from the Woden Valley district to include in Brindabella or including all of Kambah in Brindabella and taking a number of Tuggeranong or inner south suburbs and including them all in Murrumbidgee.”

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The Canberra Liberals noted the current electorates fell within the quota limits, so proposed no changes to their boundaries.

However, Brindabella just falls outside the allowable percentage threshold.

Mr Douglas, on behalf of the party, suggested a “minimalist change” to address this, submitting Elections ACT “move the localities of Beard, Hume, Jerrabomberra District, and Symonston from Kurrajong to Brindabella”.

“This would increase the Brindabella quota to 95.13 per cent and only affect around 500 voters … these communities can be easily contacted about this small change.”

Once all submissions have been received by 14 March, the Redistribution Committee will publish their proposed changes to the electoral boundaries.

When that’s published, the public will have 28 days to object to any changes.

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