Turning 16 WA seats into 15


Western Australia is on track to lose the sixteenth seat it gained at the 2016 election. This will trigger a redistribution before the next election, and will have knock-on effects across the state.

Only one of Western Australia’s 16 electorates has enough voters to still be above-quota once the seats are reduced to fifteen, and that one seat sits quite far above the quota.

Pearce now has almost 125,000 enrolled electors, while no other seat has more than 110,000. Pearce contains 31% more voters than Tangney.

After the fold I’ve included a map showing the population statistics in each existing WA electorate.

Electorates on the north side of the river tend to be less populous than those on the south side.

Perth, Stirling, Moore, Curtin and Cowan (all to the north of the river) are collectively 43% under quota.

The six southern electorates of Brand, Canning, Burt, Fremantle, Swan and Tangney are collectively 33% under quota, but most of that shortfall lies in Swan and Tangney, which are immediately south of the river. The other four seats are further south, and are less than 10% under quota.

Meanwhile Hasluck lies to the east, and straddles both sides of the city. Hasluck is 10% under quota.

When you add together the five northern seats, the inner south seats of Swan and Tangney and the eastern seat of Hasluck, those eight seats are 77% under quota.

It appears possible to mostly leave the four southernmost Perth seats alone, but the shortfall in the country may not make that possible. Forrest and O’Connor, the two southern rural seats, are collectively 13.3% under quota. Leaving the southern Perth seats intact would limit the options for bringing those seats up to quota by shifting parts of Durack into O’Connor.

If those seats are left alone, Swan and Tangney would need to take in parts of Hasluck, which would then have knock-on effects through northern Perth, with one of the northern suburbs seats abolished (I’ve seen suggestions that Stirling could go).

Alternatively, Forrest and O’Connor could shift closer to Perth, pushing up the southern Perth seats. A similar process would take place at the northern end of the city, with Durack taking in parts of Pearce and pushing the northern seats south.

In such a scenario, it may be Hasluck, the electorate which straddles the north and south of Perth, which could be abolished.

Whatever happens, big changes will be coming for Pearce. This seat is now 11.6% over quota, and will likely be projected to be even bigger. The electorate includes two urban centres on the northern fringe of Perth and a large rural hinterland. The map on my 2019 guide shows the clusters of booths in the Swan and Wanneroo council areas in the south-western corner of the seat. It seems likely that the northern end of Perth will need to be rearranged, with the northern beaches and Ellenbrook part of two different seats.

A decision about how to divide up Pearce will be closely connected to a decision about whether the southern Perth seats can be left alone.

A lot of the specifics will depend on the more precise population statistics which will be released when the redistribution commences. Each seat will be required to be within 10% of the average as of the time of the redistribution, and within 3.5% of the projected average in 3.5 years’ time.

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  1. Perhaps a computer should be use to set new boundaries. This would stop all the silly submission interference from political parties trying to get an advantage.

  2. Abolish Stirling.

    Stirling is an awkward district. It’s the only district in northern Perth that straddles the Mitchell Fwy. It forces Perth and Cowan to loop around it awkwardly; something that would only be exacerbated by trying to retain it.

    Stirling’s territory could be split amongst all four of its neighbours. The two most affected would be Perth, which would be more compact, and Cowan, which would shuffle south. This would allow Pearce to be redrawn as an outer northern suburban electorate.

    Tangney’s massive shortfall can be rectified by restoring to it the massive suburb of Canning Vale. Swan too will require some expansion. That would force Burt and Hasluck to rotate in an anti-clockwise direction around the city.

    The two big regional divisions get topped up by Pearce shrinking. Every other division would require only nips and tucks.

  3. I still wonder if Pearce itself is the best candidate for abolition. It straddles different corridors without a clear focus for itself, and could be very neatly broken up to top up all the surrounding seats.

    Put the northern beaches into Moore and/or Cowan, Ellenbrook into Hasluck, and split the rural parts between Durack and O’Connor. Moving Moore and Hasluck north creates plenty of room for the seats further south to expand.

    That way, you spread the growth among several seats, the remaining 15 seats all retain their same general form, and you might not need massive changes in southern Perth and Canning/Forrest.

  4. I think Pearce gets a major re-work, to the extent that it might get a re-name just to reflect the lack of continuity, but I think Burt is the division that actually disappears.

    Once Pearce loses its rural LGAs to prop up the rural divisions, it’s left almost cleaved in two. So I think the northern beaches go into Cowan (creating a genuine City of Wanneroo division) but the rump of Pearce picks up the north of Hasluck and the eastern part of Cowan (which would otherwise have a surplus) to create a division that you could still call Pearce or something else.

    Hasluck would then be replenished from Canning and Burt, with the remainder of the dismembered Burt ending up in Tangney and Canning (to replace its contribution to Hasluck).

  5. I originally was considering abolition of Stirling, bringing Perth back east and mixing the East between Cowan and Moore. I really don’t like Pearce in its current format, it’s parts are completely separate.
    I wondered if maybe one of Canning or Forrest could actually be abolished with Burt moving southwards and the valve of the abolished area going into O’Connor.

  6. At some point WA may need to go back to a big state-spanning outback division like the old Kalgoorlie. It may even be this time if the projections put the rural divisions too much further below quota.

    Most likely it will be possible to prop up Durack this time with some of the rural LGAs from Pearce, but there will come a time when community of interest demands that you stop inching towards Perth and instead do the obvious thing and put Kalgoorlie-Boulder back in that division. I understand that servicing a huge electorate is challenge and would have no problem with the MP for that division having additional resources.(I believe they’d already be entitled to two satellite electoral offices and some additional staff).

  7. Yeah, agreed. Pearce is getting the same problem the 90’s version of O’Connor did – as the big outback seats expand towards Perth, it gets stuck in the middle and ends up with an hourglass shape (with the neck at Toodyay). Putting the Avon valley into O’Connor and Gingin / Chittering shires into Durack would make plenty of sense. Once that’s done, it pretty much abolishes itself – you’re left with disconnected parts of Perth.

    The coastal suburbs west of Wanneroo Rd can go into Moore, Banksia Grove and Carramar into Cowan, Ellenbrook into Cowan as well, Dayton and Brabham into Hasluck. (That’s not ideal, but Hasluck needs extra numbers from somewhere.) All that would put Cowan over quota, so suburbs like Warwick and Greenwood (maybe even Girrawheen) can go into Stirling. Alternatively, Lockridge could go into Perth.

    Curtin is bounded by the river and Kings Park, so the only way it can easily expand is north. It can take Trigg and North Beach, which pushes Stirling east of Marmion Ave.

    South of the river: If Tangney expands into Canning Vale, then Burt can swap that area for the hills parts of Gosnells and Armadale councils (suburbs like Roleystone), which makes Canning more of a Peel-based seat. Swan would probably have to take the Kenwick end of Hasluck.

  8. My theory

    Perhaps Hasluck gets abolished and parts of Midland join Perth like it was before 2001. Curtin could regain parts of Mt Hawthorn and West Perth it lost in 2015/16. Perth looses far northern parts of Morley and Noranda to Cowan. Moore heads south to parts of Stirling and parts of Stirling like Girrawheen and surrounds merge into parts of Cowan.

    Western parts of Fremantle heads east into Tangney like Bicton and East Fremantle surrounding suburbs. Pearce regains majority of Perth Hills and the rest become parts of Cowan.

  9. The parts of Stirling that borders Perth are quite strong Liberal areas. if Stirling is abolished, it could make Perth a notional Liberal seat but would make Cowan safer for Labor. That said though Burt or Hasluck is most likely to abolished in my opinion.

    if Burt is abolished Gosnells and Thornlie will probably be moved into Hasluck making Hasluck a very probable Labor gain. if Hasluck is abolished Labor will probably hope to have strong Labor suburbs like Maddington and Kenwick transfered into Swan, not Burt. Burt is already a relatively safe Labor seat but transferring Maddington and Kenwick into Swan will make Labor favourites to to pick up Swan next election.

  10. Could you compare the quotas under the current population levels with the 15 seats used in the 2013 election?

  11. If you apply the current figures to the previous 15 seat configuration they would show Canning massively over quota. Which is why I think Burt is safe. You simply can’t put Armadale back into Canning. Canning will be more or less unchanged (it may even shrink a little). Burt will be altered to accomodate Tangney – losing territory at its north western end and expanding to the north east. But there will still be a seat anchored in Armadale and Gosnells.

  12. “Abolish a seat and shift” seems to be the standard method.

    Worth noting however that this number creates a new opportunity. Tere are 59 electorates in the WA legislative assembly. 3.93 state seats per federal seat; very close to a whole number (compared to 3.68 before)

    Perhaps it would be worth thinking of what 4 seat combos would make for credible federal seats ( (noting that there’s some malapportionment in the rural seats.) This will help with inter-tier cooperation, especially if LC and/or LGA boundaries are also respected.

  13. @David Walsh – I think Armadale ends up in the division that I’d still call Hasluck, although it would be greatly reconfigured, as would Pearce. Despite Pearce currently having a huge surplus, if it ends up as the effective donor (albeit not necessarily directly) to top up Durack, O’Connor and all of the north-of-the-river city divisions, it will then need to take a huge chunk of Hasluck or itself be abolished. If Pearce is retained, Hasluck would then shift well south and participate in the carve-up of Burt. The reason I think Pearce (and the other northern divisions) will be saved in one form or another is that I don’t think Canning should be extended any further north, something that appears inevitable if it is a northern division that is eliminated.

  14. > I think Armadale ends up in the division that I’d still call Hasluck

    In which case you’re essentially retaining Burt and calling it Hasluck.

    > I don’t think Canning should be extended any further north, something that appears inevitable if it is a northern division that is eliminated.

    That doesn’t follow. Every other Perth based division lies north of Canning.

  15. Durack + O’Connor + Pearce + northern metro divisions = 7.48 divisions

    Forrest + Brand + Canning + southern metro divisions = 6.62 divisions

    Hasluck = 0.90 divisions

    Hasluck is the swing seat that currently straddles the river.

    If you eliminate a northern metro division, Hasluck has to shuffle north, partly into the void, and I think Canning has to partially follow. I don’t think Hasluck could retain Kalamunda in that scenario, so it would need to go into either Canning or Swan.

    If you eliminate a southern metro division, Hasluck shuffles south (having lost its northern parts to Pearce) and gets topped up from Canning and Burt, but I think it’s still more Hasluck than anything.

    I’ll almost certainly be eliminating Burt or Tangney. I agree that Stirling has become an ugly division and it will probably get worse. But I think a configuration with a Pearce-Hasluck on the north-east fringe of the city and a Hasluck-Burt on the south-east fringe is the strongest option.

  16. Once you decide on the collective area for Perth’s 12 seats, Canning occupies the south eastern corner of that collective area. It doesn’t matter much what the other 11 seats look like.

    On the above figures Canning is roughly at parity so the only way it moves north is if it makes compensating adjustments with Forrest or O’Connor (or Brand, but Brand is also at parity). It has little to do with what happens in the rest of Perth.

  17. It’s not so much that eliminating a northern division would require Canning to “move” north, but that it would need to “stretch” there, becoming a “thin outer ring” because some of it’s insides have been eaten up to bring the five inner south metro divisions (Brand, Fremantle, Tangney, Burt, Swan) up to quota. Unless one of those is going to stretch a long way east to include Kalamunda.

    My view is that the south looks better still with six divisions, but with four “inner” (eliminating Burt or Tangney) and two “outer” (Canning in the south and Hasluck in the east).

    Essentially whether you eliminate a northern or southern metro division determines which half of Hasluck becomes the basis for a reconstruction of that division. I prefer eliminating a south metro division, because I think the south is better with a 4-2 inner-outer structure, while the north would be fine with just Pearce (including the northern parts of Hasluck) in the north-east, and Cowan or Moore joining the “ring” to a limited extent by taking the northern beaches.


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