Last week, the first round of suggestions for the NSW state electoral redistribution were released.
From here, there will be a chance to lodge a comment on these suggestions by Wednesday, March 20, and then the Commissioners will produce a draft map of the state. Following this stage there will be an opportunity for objections and comments on those objections before a final map is produced.
In this blog post I’m going to focus on the submissions from the four main political parties: Labor, Liberal, National and Greens. I should disclose that I played a large role in drawing up the Greens map.
These four parties all submitted a submission, covering the entire state, including a Mapinfo file map of the whole state. The ALP, Liberal Party and Greens provided static maps of varying quality, unfortunately the National Party provided no maps that could be viewed without Mapinfo. I’ve converted each party’s submission to Google Earth format, and you can download them, along with the spreadsheet I’ve used to analyse the results, at the end of this post.
In summary, across the state, the Greens have made changes to the smallest number of seats, leaving 22 out of 93 seats with no changes at all. The Labor submission is close behind, leaving 18 seats unchanged. The Liberal Party changed all but six seats, and the Nationals changed all but five.
The Greens and Labor each abolished two seats and created two new seats, whereas the Coalition parties only abolished one seat each.
The Greens created a new seat of Ashfield, whereas the ALP created a new seat of McKell, covering inner-city/inner-west areas between Balmain, Sydney, Heffron and Marrickville. The Liberal and National parties both created a new seat named Bass Hill, straddling the Bankstown and Fairfield areas.
The Greens, the Nationals and Liberal all propose the abolition of either Burrinjuck or Goulburn, which in practice is the merger of those two seats. Labor instead shifts both seats (along with Murrumbidgee) west, and then merges Barwon and Murray-Darling to form Lachlan.
The Greens additionally abolish the seat of East Hills and create a new seat of Green Valley.
All four parties roughly follow the same pattern, with seats in the inner city shrinking and seats in south-western NSW growing, and a seat somewhere in regional NSW being abolished and a new seat being created between Bankstown and the inner city.
The spreadsheet linked to at the end of this post lists the statistics for each seat under the four party’s scenarios. This includes pre- and post-redistribution figures for each district in each submission. I’ve also made estimates of how much seats will diverge from the quota as of the 2019 state election.
In 2012, the state government passed legislation that loosened the redistribution requirements. Previously every district had to fit within 3% of the quota at the future projected date (in this case April 2015), and the rule now only requires districts to fit within 10%.
Labor and the Greens opposed this legislation. Accusations flew about the Coalition plotting to draw smaller districts in rural areas and larger districts in urban areas to their political advantage.
The Greens stuck to the old rule, with all 93 seats fitting within 3% of the 2015 quota. The Liberal Party surprisingly also stayed close to the 3% quota. Only three districts are more than 3% over quota – two in the Hunter and one in the Eastern Suburbs.
Labor and National, however, paid little regard to fitting districts close to the quota. 25 districts were drawn above or below the quota by Labor, and the Nationals drew 36 (over one third) of districts above or below the quota.
Clearly both methods benefit the party that has proposed them – but they aren’t equally guilty. Generally Labor has proposed drawing more heavily populated districts in areas where population trends are heading downward, and less populated districts in fast-growing urban areas.
Labor has collectively drawn districts in Central Sydney and North-Western Sydney at 0.243 under quota, but this is estimated to switch to 0.076 over quota by the 2019 election. Labor has drawn districts in Southern and Western NSW and Northern Sydney 0.257 over quota, which will drop to 0.013 under quota in 2019.
By contrast, the Nationals have drawn Central, South-Western and North-Western Sydney as 0.345 over quota, which becomes 0.809 over quota by 2019. Seats drawn in Western NSW and Northern Sydney will be 0.429 under quota by 2019 as drawn by the Nationals.
If 25% of electorates (24/93) are off the average by more than 5% for two straight months, an immediate redistribution is triggered under Section 28A of the Constitution. If this took place prior to the 2019 election, this would require an additional redistribution after only one election.
I’ve assumed that seats will continue to grow or shrink from 2015 to 2019 at the same rate that the Commission has assumed they will grow from now until 2015. I know this is rough but it gives some idea of whether maps are going to work over the full cycle.
Overall I estimate that, under each party’s scenario, the following number of seats will fall outside of the 5% quota by 2019:
- Labor – 7
- Liberal – 7
- Greens – 10
- Nationals – 17
The first three are safe enough – but it’s not inconceivable that faster growth in the city and faster decline in the west could see 24 seats in the Nationals map cross over the 5% quota, and force an additional redistribution.
In the list below, I’ve detailed specific changes in the areas most heavily affected, along with links to the parties’ submissions as Google Earth files, and a spreadsheet to allow you to check my sums.
You can also read each party’s report, along with other submissions, at the Redistribution website.
Please also let me know if you’d like me to do a similar analysis of submissions for the Victorian state redistribution, which came out around the same time as the NSW submissions.