Tasmanian federal redistribution – let’s try that again


Tasmania is currently undergoing a redistribution of its federal boundaries – the second of six federal redistributions due during this parliamentary term. The boundaries will also apply to Tasmanian state lower house elections, but probably not until the 2022 state election.

The draft boundaries were released earlier this year, and they saw a few significant changes. The seat of Bass, which covers most of the Launceston area, retracted in to just cover areas surrounding the Tamar river, losing the north-eastern corner of the state. Lyons underwent changes in a number of areas.

It is standard practice for federal redistributions to go through two rounds of suggestions and comment, followed by the release of a draft map, then two more rounds of objection and comment, followed by the release of the final boundaries. This time, however, the AEC has chosen to open up another round of objections and comment, as the boundaries released today were significantly different to the first draft.

No changes were made to the boundaries of three of the five seats, but there were significant changes to the Bass/Lyons border. Bass regained the Dorset and Flinders council areas in the north-eastern corner of Tasmania, and lost the small part of the Meander Valley council area contained within the Launceston urban area. This area was contained in Bass at least since 2001.

At the other end of the state, the Hobart-area seat of Denison has been renamed Clark, after Andrew Inglis Clark: state Supreme Court justice, Attorney-General and one of the inventors of the Hare-Clark voting system. This followed a campaign to change the seat name, including from sitting MP Andrew Wilkie and his predecessor Duncan Kerr.

You can download the new boundary map here, or view the three versions of the boundary on the below map:

I’ve seen some commentary expressing frustration about the removal of the urban parts of the Meander valley from Bass, sticking them in an electorate which stretches to the edge of Hobart.

Unfortunately it isn’t possible for Bass to contain both the Meander Valley area and the Dorset/Flinders corner without pushing Bass over quota.

Based on projected 2021 enrolment figures, Bass must lie within 3.5% of the average. In real numbers, they must have between 74,289 and 79,677 projected enrolment. Bass is projected (as drawn) to have 75,653 voters.

There are three areas which have been moved between Bass and Lyons – the Meander Valley area on the south side of Launceston, the Dorset/Flinders corner of the state, and the West Tamar area which was moved from Lyons to Bass in the original draft and remains there. Each has between 5867 and 7828 voters as of 2021, and if all three were included in Bass it would be more populous than is permitted.

So the original Redistribution Committee decided to make Bass more of a Launceston-based electorate, moving the rural north-east into Lyons, and the augmented Commission has instead decided to make Bass follow local government areas, leaving part of the Launceston urban area in Lyons.

So now there is time for interested parties to argue the case. Theoretically they could also decide to completely reverse the Lyons-Bass border back to its previous boundaries, putting the West Tamar back into Lyons, but this is unlikely.

Bass second draft74,46775,653
Lyons second draft75,50878,313
Meander Valley (Bass to Lyons)6,8407,233
Dorset/Flinders (Bass to Lyons to Bass)5,8495,867
West Tamar (Lyons to Bass)7,6757,828
Minimum enrolment67,51374,289
Maximum enrolment82,51579,677
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  1. Clark, along with Samuel Griffith, devised most of the nasty bits in our Federal constitution that have frustrated generations of progressives wanting to change our constitution for progressive reasons.

  2. I think they’ve got the Bass/Lyons boundary right. Lyons is now much more coherent and is less the “bits and pieces” electorate it was on both on the old and the proposed boundaries. Whilst it’s not ideal to cut the outer suburbs of Prospect Vale and Blackstone Heights away from the rest of Launceston, it does have the redeeming feature of uniting the Meander Valley LGA.

    Franklin is still a mess though. A casualty of successive commissions’ prioritising the unity of central Hobart above all else.

    Good to see Andrew Inglis Clark finally recognised.

  3. There appears to be a flaw in the geodata for both sets of draft boundaries. The Old Beach area – which is proposed to be redrawn from Franklin into Lyons – is left unattached to any electorate.

  4. I was honestly surprised to see that the committee decided to follow my suggestion and move Dorset & Flinders into Lyons.

    My suggestion was based around keeping the urban part of Launceston as the focus, much the same way I had focussed on uniting the major towns in the Queensland redistribution. One of the objections (John Beattie) put forward quite valid arguments against it, but importantly West Tamar needed to be part of Bass not Lyons. For me, it was a matter of what to exchange for West Tamar being part of Bass. I thought I’d make a bold move with Dorset/Flinders and it almost paid off!

    I’m far more disappointed with Franklin continuing split across the Derwent, the Hobart LGA and Storm Bay. There is no way that can be considered a congruous unit.

    Good on them for recognising Andrew Inglis Clark finally, but I’d rather they focus more on getting a united Franklin (which should have the Franklin name retired when they do so also).

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