With the NSW redistribution, it is a little hard to know which seat will be abolished. But don’t be surprised if the changes are a little more radical than just one seat. When a seat needed to be abolished before the 1993 election, two were abolished in Sydney (Dundas and Phillip), and one created straddling the area between the Hunter Valley and lower North Coast (Paterson).

Interestingly, Dundas included much of the area now covered by Bennelong. Dundas MP Philip Ruddock moved to contest Berowra where Harry Edwards was retiring. John Howard contested Bennelong despite it becoming much more marginal after losing areas east of the Lane Cove River, including his home at Wollstonecraft.

Many of those in the Liberal Party who thought Howard’s time had passed wanted him to contest North Sydney against Ted Mack, the seat into which his home had been moved. Howard chose to stay with Bennelong and Mack won North Sydney. After ten years as Prime Minister, many reasonable judges would say Howard made the right call.

The answers to redistribution puzzles in NSW must always start by looking at the geographical problem created by the Great Dividing Range. There are currently six seats entirely west of the great divide, Calare (IND), Farrer (LIB), Gwydir (NAT), New England (IND), Parkes (NAT) and Riverina (NAT).

On the new quota, these seats are in total about a quarter of a seat under quota, probably much more under quota by the time population growth estimates are factored in. If these seats are to be retained, extra voters have to be added from somewhere.

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