Readers may be interested to know that I have done the
preliminary calculations for the Queensland
and New South Wales seats for the
proposed redistributions released recently.

My overall assessment is that the electoral position of the
Howard Government has weakened by about 1%. Read on for my detailed
justification of that proposition.

Since Queensland
came out first I shall deal with it first. At present there are 28 Queensland seats in the House of
Representatives and their distribution is 17 Liberal, six Labor, four National
(Dawson, Hinkler, Maranoa and Wide Bay) and one Independent, Kennedy.

The notional distribution of the 29 seats on the new maps is
17 Liberal, six Labor, five National (the existing four plus the new seat of
Wright) and one Independent.

There is no seat actually held by a party which becomes
notionally held by a different party on the new maps. Two seats (both in Brisbane
and both held by the Liberal Party) are unchanged in boundaries. They are the
highly marginal Bonner (needing a swing of a mere 0.6% to fall to
Labor) and the safe seat of Ryan which falls to Labor on a swing of 10.5%.

By contrast, every seat in New South
Wales has undergone change, though the alteration to North
Sydney is quite minimal. If the Prime Minister had hoped that
Hunters Hill (now in North Sydney) would revert to
Bennelong his hopes have been dashed.

At present there are 50 NSW seats in the House of
Representatives and their distribution is 21 each for Liberal and Labor, six
National (Cowper, Gwydir, Lyne, Page, Parkes and Riverina) and two Independent
seats, Calare and New England.

The effect of the abolition of Gwydir is that overall
numbers remain the same since in NSW, as in Queensland,
there is no seat actually held by a party which becomes notionally held by a
different party on the new maps. In the present House of Representatives there are 75
Liberals, 60 Labor, 12 Nationals and three Independents.

Interestingly, Bennelong, requiring a swing of 3.6% to lose,
becomes the equivalent of Bennelong needing a swing to lose, before boundary
change, of 4.4%. On that way of looking at it the Howard Government’s
electoral position has been weakened by 0.8%.

Read more on the website.

Malcolm Mackerras is Visiting Fellow in Political Science, School
of Humanities and Social Sciences,
the University of New
South Wales at the Australian
Defence Force Academy
in Canberra.

Peter Fray

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