As foreshadowed last week in Crikey by Malcolm Mackerras, the Australian Electoral Commission yesterday announced that under federal redistributions to be conducted next year Queensland will gain an extra seat and NSW will lose one. The other states all retain their current entitlements.
Population growth in Queensland is nothing new. Since 1984 (the last general increase in the size of the House of Reps), it has had four redistributions, adding a new seat each time: Dickson, Longman, Blair and Bonner. Next year’s will be the fifth, taking it to 29. (See dates of past redistributions here).
But for NSW, this is much more interesting; it has had 50 seats since the 1993 election. A redistribution in 2000 made some boundary changes, but no seats were created or abolished. Now, due to relative population decline, one will have to go, and NSW MPs are taking a great interest in the subject.
The biggest under-enrolments are in the rural areas west of the mountains, where all the seats (except independent-held Calare) belong to the Coalition. A possible outcome is that the four seats of Parkes, Riverina, Farrer and Hume will somehow be reduced to three; the first two are National Party and the others Liberal, so that would be a potential source of intra-Coalition warfare. But there are plenty of other options, and we can be sure that everyone will have their say over the coming months.
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