Proposed
new federal boundaries for the ACT have just been produced by the
redistribution committee, and are available on the Australian Electoral
Commission website.

The
ACT has two seats in the House of Representatives, Canberra and Fraser.
The current boundary between them mostly follows the Molonglo River and
Lake Burley Griffin, but to even up enrolments between them it deviates
south to include the suburbs of Barton, Griffith, Kingston and
Narrabundah in the northern seat (Fraser). In recent years, however,
population growth has been stronger in the north, so it’s now possible
to move the boundary to follow the lake and the river the whole way,
and that is what the committee proposes. Simple (although they take 17
pages to explain it).

Both new seats will be very large – over
100,000 voters in each, the largest in Australia. This is because the
ACT is just short of being entitled to a third seat (it briefly had one
from 1996 to 1998). The sensible thing would be to add in the
Queanbeyan area to bring up the numbers, but the AEC’s interpretation
of the Constitution prohibits this.

With the new boundaries,
projected 2009 enrolments in Canberra and Fraser will be almost exactly
equal – less than 1% difference.They will also make almost no political
difference since both are safe Labor. Canberra will become very
slightly less safe, Fraser will be basically unchanged.

The
only problem is that, counter-intuitively, the Canberra CBD (such as it
is) is not in the seat called Canberra; ideally one would swap the
names around, but the added confusion would outweigh the gain in logic.

Anyone wanting to object to this blindingly obvious proposal has until 22 July to do so.

Peter Fray

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