Readers may remember my report last month on the bulk mail campaign to save the electorate of Gwydir, proposed for abolition in the draft federal redistribution for New South Wales. Yesterday it was announced that the campaign was a success.

Electoral commissioners don’t much like changing their minds. The final boundaries for Queensland, released on Monday, showed only very minor changes from the proposed ones, despite the 179 objections – although the commissioners did agree to naming the new seat “Flynn” instead of “Wright”.

But in NSW, after almost two thousand objections, the commissioners have given in, although it’s hard to tell that from their press release. Gwydir is to be retained, but renamed: the seat they are calling “Parkes” is clearly the old Gwydir, now including Dubbo but otherwise not greatly changed – more than 70% of its voters will come from Gwydir.

Instead, the commissioners are effectively merging the old Parkes and Calare into a new seat, which they call “Calare”. There’s some logic to that, since a narrow majority of its voters will come from the old Calare, but geographically it looks much more like the old Parkes. (It also contains the town of Parkes.) Either way, it’s bad news for Calare’s MP, independent Peter Andren.

Although the commissioners have given more weight to distance and area than the original proposals did, the strangest aspect of the proposed boundaries hasn’t been addressed: the way the new Farrer will stretch all the way from Albury to Broken Hill. Although they’ve tidied it up a bit at the margins, the long stretch remains. But the Liberal MP for Farrer, Susan Ley, has professed herself “happy” with the new boundaries.

For more about the redistribution, see the spirited discussion at the Poll Bludger site.

Peter Fray

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