As expected, the Electoral Boundaries Commission has ignored both the interim boundaries and the suggestions made to it by the two major parties in the proposed new boundaries for Victoria’s reformed Legislative Council released this morning. The surprise is that it has followed almost exactly the submission made by the Greens, with only three of the 88 districts (all in the eastern suburbs) allocated differently.

Each of the eight new regions will elect five members. Applying the upper house results from the 2002 state election to the proposed boundaries, four of the eight new regions would split evenly, electing two ALP, two Liberals and one Green. Two regions in the northern and western suburbs would each be 3-1-1, while the South Eastern Metropolitan Region would be three ALP and two Liberals. The opposition would get a majority in only one region, Northern Victoria, which would elect two ALP, two Liberals and one National Party.

So on my calculation, the totals would look like this:
ALP 19
Liberals 14
Greens 6
Nationals 1

That would be a phenomenally good result for the Greens, but it must be remembered that 2002 was something of a high-water mark for them. Even on those figures, only one region would give the Greens a quota in their own right; everywhere else they would depend on staying in the count long enough to benefit from preferences. So they are at risk not just from a fall in their own vote, but from a possible swing to the Liberals which could lock them out in some regions.

There is also the possibility that an independent or minor party somewhere will harvest enough preferences from ticket votes to stay in ahead of the Greens – as happened to Family First in the Senate election, and as almost happened to the Fremantle Hospital Support Group in this year’s WA election. Either way, there seems little doubt that minor parties will hold the balance of power.

The proposed boundaries are open for comment until 8 August. The Commission expects to release final boundaries in mid-October, but the chance of any major change to the proposals is very slight.

The report should be available here later today.

Peter Fray

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