NSW 2020: new ward boundaries finalised


Local councils in New South Wales will go to the polls in September this year to elect new councillors for the next four years.

I have just finished putting together my map of ward boundaries for those councils that use wards to elect their members.

49 councils currently have wards, plus Shellharbour council is restoring wards for the first time since the 2004 election.

I have identified new boundaries in seventeen of these councils (plus Shellharbour), and have finished drawing those new boundary maps. I believe that none of the other councils have changed their wards, but I will list those which I have not definitively ruled out at the end of this post.

Annoyingly, there is no central repository of information about local ward redistributions in New South Wales. You have to go to each local council and look for information on exhibition, and look through minutes for official decisions. If a council hasn’t made any change, you might not find anything. This is different to Queensland and Victoria, which coordinate ward redistributions through the state electoral commissions and publish all the information on one website. There’s a whole other story to tell about how problematic it is that ward decisions are made directly by the councillors.

Below the fold I’ll briefly run through the 18 councils with new ward boundaries, and I’ll post a map showing the changes in boundaries.

You can download a Google Earth file with the 2020 ward boundaries (including the existing wards for those councils which haven’t changed) from my maps page, where I also have the ward boundaries from each council election since 2008.

Councils in New South Wales are generally required to redraw their boundaries whenever the difference between the most populous and least populous ward (in terms of numbers of electors) exceeds 10%. This report shows which councils exceeded this variance as of May 2019. Councils were generally required to respond to this data and make changes by the end of 2019, so in lots of cases councils were drafting maps and putting them on public exhibition around September-October. It is only necessary, however, to make the change if the council becomes aware of the discrepancy in one term and it remains at the end of the first year of the following term. In at least four cases councils have noted discrepancies but will revisit them in 2021.

Firstly, here’s the map showing the changes. New boundaries are in green, old boundaries in red. You can toggle the layers to check the changes more closely. I have included all wards in councils which have changed their boundaries but in many cases changes have not affected all wards.

And here as promised is the list of the 18 councils with new wards:

  • Bayside – Renamed wards from suburb names to numbers (1,2,3,4,5). Wards 3 and 4, which covers the western end of the council, have been completely redrawn.
  • Blacktown – A large amount of population growth in Ward 1 (at the north of the council) has forced changes to all five wards.
  • Camden – A large amount of population growth in North Ward has forced that ward to shrink, giving territory to both Central and South wards.
  • Canterbury-Bankstown – A small number of voters were moved from Bankstown to Roselands ward, which conveniently also meant that the ward boundaries exactly follow the old border between the two former councils.
  • Dungog – B ward lost voters to A ward.
  • Fairfield – Changed from 3 wards of 4 councillors each to 2 wards of 6 councillors each, which was controversial and narrowly passed the council.
  • Greater Hume – Changes were made to the former North and South wards in both directions, which resulted in South ward being renamed as West ward.
  • Lane Cove – Small parts of West ward were moved to Central ward.
  • Liverpool – Parts of South ward moved to North ward. Specifically the westernmost part of the South ward.
  • Newcastle – Wards 1 and 4 shrunk down, wards 2 and 3 swapped territory from each other as well as from the other wards.
  • North Sydney – This council reduced its wards from 4 to 3 in 2017, and also passed a referendum to remove the directly elected mayor that same year, coming into effect this year. The council wanted to stick with 3 wards but this would have required a reduction in councillors from 10 to 9 with the end of the directly elected mayor so instead they’ve switched to 2 wards of 5 each.
  • Parramatta – Small movement of voters from Rosehill to Dundas.
  • Port Stephens – Northern end of Central ward moved to West ward.
  • Shellharbour – Four new wards created, each electing two councillors. Confusingly they decided to name them “A”, “B”, “C” and “D” in the final decision after originally naming the draft wards after cardinal directions. I will need to wait for further information to know which ward is which.
  • Shoalhaven – Changes to all three wards, with Ward 1 losing its southern parts.
  • The Hills – No change to West ward. East ward gains territory from Central ward, which gains territory from North ward.
  • Wollondilly – Reduced from 3 wards to 2.
  • Wollongong – Slight change to Ward 1/2 border, major rearrangement on the Ward 2/3 border.

I’m going to be returning to this election as we get closer to September. I’m hoping to redistribute votes between wards (at least in areas with partisan elections) and write guides for the larger councils. There’s a couple of councils I want to return to with dedicated posts when I find the time.

Finally, there’s a handful of councils which I believe haven’t changed their boundaries but I haven’t been able to prove this. If you know anything, let me know!

  • Blue Mountains
  • Central Coast
  • Hunters Hill
  • Ku-ring-gai
  • Kyogle
  • Lachlan
  • Lake Macquarie
  • Murrumbidgee
  • Penrith
  • Randwick
  • Warren
  • Waverley
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