WA redistribution – what could happen?


In 2015, New South Wales and Western Australia will both undergo redistributions to redraw federal electoral boundaries due to New South Wales losing its 48th seat and Western Australia gaining its 16th seat. Yesterday I looked at enrolment numbers in NSW seats, and how that redistribution might play out.

In Western Australia, boundaries will be drawn to create a sixteenth electorate. Each electorate will need to be within 10% of the quota, based on 2015 population, and within 3.5% of a quota based on projected population in three and a half years.

Based on April population, all but one of Western Australia’s existing seats is over quota, with Canning over quota by 14%.

The enormous northern electorate of Durack is just under quota, and will probably require no change.

Population growth has been greatest in the electorates of Brand, Canning and Pearce, as well as Fremantle. These four seats are all at least 10% over quota.

Overall, the three regional seats of Durack, O’Connor and Forrest are 9% over quota.

The five electorates south of the river are 44% over quota, while the six electorates north of the river are 39% over quota. The one seat to the east of the river, Hasluck, is 8% over quota.

The most likely outcome will see seats across Perth contracting in size, and effectively the seat of Hasluck will be broken in half, into two eastern seats, one in the north and one in the south, while there will be minimal changes in regional WA.

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  1. You’d think the inner urban and regional electorates would remain largely as they are.

    In rough terms, I see the outer ring around Perth – Pearce, Hasluck and Canning – going from three to four seats.

    Canning will once again eat into the southern part of Brand, making Mandurah the focus of the division.

    A new seat – call it Hasluck south for now – on Gosnells & Armadale would be very competitive, and probably normally Labor leaning if the ALP ever regains its standing in the state. This seat would take the Fremantle+Tangney surplus.

    Hasluck north would then become more centrally focused on Midland.

    Sadly, Pearce will probably remain a bits-and-pieces electorate. If Moore and Cowan are pulled southward, they’ll shed suburbs to the north. But there’ll be nowhere near enough outer northern suburbs for a coherent division.

  2. Ben
    With the current population growth of WA. Would it not be better to create 2 new seats, & save the commonwealth the cost of another redistribution in 3 years time ??. There are already more than an estimated 1.6 million eligible voters in WA. In 3 years time there would have to be another 100,000 + surely.

  3. You only get as many seats as your population justifies – you can’t just add another one because you think the population will justify the growth in three years.

    Queensland has on occasion undergone repeated redistributions within a short period.

  4. Even with strong population growth, there’s no guarantee we’d get close to 17 quotas anytime soon. Assuming WA and Qld grow (relative to the country) at the same rate, Qld will get a new seat a long time before WA, because there’s more room in between 15.5 and 16.5 quotas than between 29.5 and 30.5 quotas. The last new seat was Hasluck in 2001, and before that you’re going back to Pearce in 1990. It’s the same reason SA has only lost two seats in the last thirty years, while NSW is about to lose its third seat in a decade. Smaller states change less often.

    (Did that handwavey 2am maths make sense?)

  5. 16 seats creates a better opportunity to allocate seats according to community of interest considering that approximately 75% of voters live in Perth (i.e. 12 seats Metro and 4 seats non-Metro). The way this can be achieved is to contract Pearce into a north metro seat and centre Canning around the Peel region (fully Mandurah based). The only challenge with this option will be having to balance high growth outer metro areas with established suburbs.

  6. I don’t see how Durack and O’Connor could absorb all the rural areas presently in Pearce.

    Unless Canning is drawn to extend out into the wheatbelt. But such a seat would surely fail the community of interest test. Mandurah’s transportation links run north and south, not so much east.

  7. The biggest problem with Pearce is that the Avon valley / Narrogin area (all the towns along the Great Southern Hwy) has to go somewhere. It’s too small to have a seat based on it, but is large enough to be inconvenient to deal with. If Pearce picks up northern suburbs of Perth from the contracting Moore / Cowan, it pretty much has to lose the Swan valley to Hasluck (which is getting pushed north by the creation of the new seat), so it ends up very weirdly shaped. An extra fiddle you could do is shifting that area to O’Connor and/or Durack, while replacing it with towns further north like Moora and Jurien Bay. That would make Pearce a coastally-aligned seat, but at the price of a lot of otherwise-unnecessary fiddling around with the other two regional seats. It may or may not be worth it.

    Fun fact: Pearce borders 7 out of the other 14 electorates in WA, so it’s always going to be a hassle. Mayo in SA is similar (borders 6 of the other 10 in SA).

  8. The rest of Perth oughta be pretty straightforward. Swan can only lose territory on one side, so Lynwood / Ferndale would be likely to go to Tangney. That would then allow Tangney to lose most of the Canning Vale area, and end up a nice compact seat bounded by the Canning River, Roe Hwy and Albany Hwy. The new seat would probably be generally east of the freeway and south of Roe Hwy, and include all the new SOR suburbia which has earned WA a 16th seat: Cockburn Central / Aubin Grove (Freo), Canning Vale (Tangney), Southern River / Huntingdale (Hasluck), and Harrisdale / Piara Waters (Canning). That’s definitely a community of interest; add in Gosnells and Armadale (probably Byford too) and that’s a seat.

    Canning would lose a fair bit of suburbia, as it’s not just getting pushed out of Perth by the new seat, it’s also getting pulled into the south-west by the contracting Forrest (thanks to WA’s other population boom area, Bunbury and Busselton). It’ll probably end up covering the SW Hwy towns from Pinjarra down to Brunswick Junction, along with Mandurah.

    Political effects: those changes would make Hasluck and Canning safer for the Libs, so Wyatt and Randall would stay put and leave the new seat an open contest. It’d probably be marginally Liberal, thanks to the massive swing around Armadale in 2013 (that area was somehow 15% better for the Libs than the state election six months earlier), but that’s gotta be the high-water mark of the Liberal vote. Six months before a state election for an eight-year-old govt, Labor should get a bit of protest vote from people who don’t like Barnett. It’s a seat they’ve got no excuse not to win.

    As for the new seat’s name, I’ll start the bidding with Tonkin. He’s the only recently dead ex-premier who doesn’t have a seat named after him. (Court doesn’t count, as there’s two of them and the younger one isn’t dead yet; there’s a Mitchell in NSW and there’ll soon be a Hawke in Vic.) Plus, the Tonkin Hwy would run through it. If anyone from the AEC is reading, I thought of it first. 😛

  9. B of P
    What about Hawke ??. He is after all our most successful PM. Much more important than any premier.

  10. Hawke will be named for a future division in Victoria, the state he represented in federal parliament.

    WA has Curtin, so it’s only fair.

  11. If there was ever a Hawke in WA, it’d be named for Bob’s uncle Bert, who was premier from 1953 to 1959. PM’s outrank premiers, though, so that won’t be happening.

  12. Judging from this map, the most likely outcome will be an extra seat to the south of the Perth suburban fringe, which from my rough guess will go to the Liberals. The only Seat which the ALP has outside Perth is along the coast, especially Mandurah and Rockingham, and that will further concerntrate the ALP vote in Brand.

  13. I just threw the 2013 results at a hypothetical seat containing the following suburbs (rough number of voters in brackets):

    Canning: Armadale, Kelmscott, Byford, Harrisdale (34,000)
    Fremantle: Cockburn Central, Atwell, Success (13,000)
    Hasluck: Southern River, Huntingdale, Gosnells, Thornlie, Maddington, Kenwick (29,000)
    Tangney: Canning Vale (11,000)

    That’s about 87,000 voters all up. That would be a Liberal seat, margin 5.2% (about where Hasluck currently is), but with a 5.8% swing to the Libs compared to 2010. That swing is very far from uniform; it’s over 11% in the Canning part, and 3.5% or less in the other three parts. That shows just how important it is for Labor to figure out what went so wrong in Canning, and fix it.

    The other blip is an astonishing 15.1% swing in Southern River, the only booth over 4%. Considering that booth is on the boundary of Canning and the state seat swung big time last March, that’s just barely believable.

    Current division / Lib 2pp / 2013 swing:

    Canning 59.54 11.12
    Fremantle 49.70 0.19
    Hasluck 49.79 3.48
    Tangney 61.58 1.87

    TOTAL 55.17 5.79

  14. Here are the seat details Werria moves south and old Werria becomes Whitlam. Charlton becomes the new seat of HUnter. Hume takes over Rivernia. In QLd if Bruce Scott and Bob Katter retires Maranona and Kennedy merge to become Fish named after sir Hudson Fish. In WA brand renamed after Kim Beazley father famous cabinet minister and new seat named after some local worthy

  15. 1) You can’t name a seat after a person still living.
    2) QLD isn’t having a redistribution.
    3) The commissioners won’t take into consideration whether any MPs are retiring.

  16. Beazley would be a good name for a future WA seat, since there were two of them (Kim Sr was a minister under Whitlam), kinda like how Hasluck is named for both Paul and Alexandra Hasluck. Won’t be happening for a few decades though, and it won’t be replacing Brand: that seat’s named after WA’s longest-serving premier, so that name is going nowhere.

    Something else I’ve noticed: if Canning gets pulled south, it’ll be nowhere near the river it’s named after. Along with Moore (also in WA) and Richmond (NSW), there’s an object lesson for why naming seats after rivers is a bad idea.

  17. Corangamite is almost a similar story. The lake it is named after is no longer within the seat’s boundaries, although the boundary does run along its eastern shore.

  18. Richmond might get re-named “Anthony” at some point in the future.

    Wannon in Victoria is another one, which presumably will get renamed “Fraser” (provided they do a name change in the ACT).

    On WA, are there enough electors in Mandurah and the Peel for an entire seat? Or would Bunbury need to shift seats to make up the numbers in the redrawn Canning?

  19. Bunbury is the heart of Forrest. It accounts for roughly 50% of Forrest as presently configured. (That is, if you define Bunbury as not just Bunbury LGA, but the suburban portions of neighbouring LGAs.)

    Splitting Bunbury from the rest of Forrest would have such large knock-on effects for the other rural seats that such a course is surely unlikely.

    So I’d rule out a Mandurah-Bunbury seat. Though certainly Forrest could lose some peripheral areas (Collie, rural parts of Harvey LGA) to a Mandurah based seat.

  20. Here’s some 2013 vote numbers:

    Canning, from Mundijong south: 36,440
    Brand, from Madora Bay south (ie: the rest of Mandurah council): 11,278
    Harvey and surrounding towns: 4174
    Collie: 4761
    Australind: 6934
    Eaton: 4500

    That all adds up to 68,087. Even adding in postals and absents, that won’t be quite enough. Adding in either Byford, the southernmost suburbs of Rockingham, or more of eastern Bunbury would make up the numbers. It’d be a mess to start with, but considering one of the major growth areas down that way is Treendale (inland from Australind, across the Brunswick River), it’d sort itself out after a couple of elections.

  21. Australind and Eaton is suburban Bunbury which must stay in Forrest.

    Combining suburbs from Perth and Bunbury is surely a violation of the community of interest criteria. To say that the boundaries can be sorted out in the future isn’t much justification. These boundaries will probably have a life span of three elections.

  22. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for Labor supporters to hope that the redistribution might fix the situation where the solid Labor areas in northern Perth are divided between Cowan and Stirling.

    People who have had seats named after them while they were still alive: Chris Watson (1934, died 1941), Stanley Bruce (1955, died 1964), Dick Casey (1969, died 1976), Annabelle Rankin (1984, died 1986).

    I disapprove of naming federal seats after state politicians. Jack Tonkin was great bloke and all, but he was a one-term premier 40 years ago. Suggestions: Beazley, Drake-Brockman, Edwards (after Sir Hughie, VC), Bell (Fred, first WA soldier to win a VC, 1901).

    Neither Moore nor Canning is named for a river. Moore is named for George Moore, the first Advocate-General of WA (and could easily be renamed since he is long forgotten), Canning is named for Alfred Canning, of the Canning stock route.

  23. It wasn’t that long ago the Liberal Party put forward a submission to unite the Labor voting areas of Stirling and Cowan. Labor held both seats then, at a time when the party was in opposition.

    Stirling probably will retreat to the coast over successive redistributions, making it a safe Liberal seat (if it’s not already). But I think the committee will be fairly minimalist in their changes: keep the northern boundary fixed, adjust the southern boundary as much as necessary to get Curtin in quota, adjust the eastern boundary to get Stirling in quota.

  24. Hi – having lived in WA for so long I still find the O’Çonnor / Durack logic weird. Kalgoorlie and the Mining towns of Leonora / Laverton / Coolgardie / Leinster etc being lumped in with the southern wheatbelt – instead of the Pilbara and Kimberley.

    What about concentric boundary for Durack to say Esperance – Geraldton, the rest becomes OÇonnor

    I do like the idea however of a Mandurah – Bunbury electorate

  25. The numbers at the last redistribution simply wouldn’t allow for a division running from the Kimberley to the Goldfields. Without Geraldton it was well under quota; with Geraldton it was well over.

  26. The prevous O’Connor / Kalgoorlie layout once made sense in terms of land use, but O’Connor was getting increasingly hourglass-shaped. Every time Kalgoorlie got expanded, another few wheatbelt shires were pulled out of O’Connor, its only neighbour. Much more of that, and the only options would’ve been drawing the boundary through Geraldton or Albany, or else O’Connor would’ve been split in two.

    These days, Durack and O’Connor border multiple other seats, which makes redistributions a lot easier – the AEC can choose which boundary to fiddle with, rather than being stuck with one.

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