Two of the five electorates were left untouched, while a population in the deficit in the southern seat of Brindabella caused a knock-on effect throughout three electorates.
The redistribution has strengthened the Liberal Party in Murrumbidgee but weakened their position in their weakest electorate of Kurrajong.
In this post I have included an interactive map comparing the two sets of boundaries, and I’ve calculated estimates of the vote for the three main parties for the new boundaries.
This map shows the changes to the electoral boundaries: 2024 boundaries in blue and 2020 boundaries in red. You can download this map as a Google Earth map file from my maps page, along with every ACT electoral map since the first electorates in 1995.
The southern electorate of Brindabella was projected to fall 5.6% below the quota by October 2024. All electorates are required to fall within 5% of the quota. Thus Brindabella was required to bring in population from its only neighbour Murrumbidgee, which itself was slightly under quota. Thus it was necessary for Murrumbidgee to take in some of the inner city electorate of Kurrajong, which is projected to experience the most population growth between now and October 2024.
They have done this by moving the remainder of Kambah from Murrumbidgee to Brindabella, and moving the suburbs of Forrest and Red Hill immediately to the south of Capital Hill into Murrumbidgee.
This is the second redistribution in a row which has seen this trend of these three seats creeping closer to the city. The current 5-electorate structure was first adopted in 2016, but in the 2019 redistribution Murrumbidgee lost the other parts of Kambah to Brindabella and gained Yarralumla and Deakin from Kurrajong.
At the 2016 election, the entirety of South Canberra was contained in Kurrajong while northern Tuggeranong was split between Murrumbidgee and Brindabella. As of these boundaries, almost half of South Canberra is in Murrumbidgee, while Brindabella now takes in the entire Tuggeranong district.
Forrest and Red Hill were some of the most conservative parts of a very progressive inner city electorate. You would expect that moving these areas from Kurrajong into Murrumbidgee would improve the Liberal vote in Murrumbidgee and hurt them in Kurrajong. And you’d be right.
The Liberal vote in Kurrajong has been cut by 1.25% in Kurrajong, with the Greens vote climbing 0.85%. The Greens managed to win two seats to just one Liberal seat in 2020 despite trailing the Liberals by 4.6% in 2020. On these boundaries, that gap is just 2.5%.
The Liberals missed out on a second seat in Kurrajong by just a few hundred votes in 2020. They may rebound in 2024, but they’ll be doing so with less favourable boundaries.
The increase in the Liberal vote in Murrumbidgee is much smaller than their loss in Kurrajong, increasing by 0.61%. The Greens slightly increased their vote in Murrumbidgee, with those parts of the inner south relatively bad for the Greens in Kurrajong but quite good compared to the rest of Murrumbidgee, certainly when compared to northern Kambah.
I’ve also produced the same table based on numbers of quotas rather than percentages:
At the last election, Labor won two seats in each electorate for a total of ten. The Liberal Party won nine, with two in each in all districts except Kurrajong. The Greens won six, with two in Kurrajong and one everywhere else.
If the Liberal Party were to win back power, either they or more favourable crossbenchers would need to pick up four seats. That could be a 3-2 split in three districts and winning back a second seat in Kurrajong. If they stay on one seat in Kurrajong, they would need to win three in every other electorate. They’re a long way from that goal, and the biggest change in this redistribution puts that goal further away.
There really isn’t much in the way of options when it comes to this redistribution for the Commission. With only five electorates, you don’t have as much flexibility. Canberra is also designed in a linear shape, and it means that there often aren’t that many options for which suburbs to transfer.
The reason the Liberal Party is hurt by this redistribution is fairly simple. They do poorly in the inner city of Canberra, and that is the area which is growing fastest. This leads to an inevitable result that more favourable outer suburban seats must expand to take in more voters, and less favourable inner suburban seats can shrink. The Liberal Party can’t really win power unless they can strengthen their position in Kurrajong, but densification means that some of their best areas are now out of that electorate.
That’s it for this redistribution. I expect the final boundaries will be finalised later this year.
This is one of a series of redistributions currently under way. I’m expecting the draft boundaries for the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly later this month, and the draft for the Western Australian Legislative Assembly in July.
Four Queensland councils will be redistributing their electoral divisions later this year, and New South Wales councils will also be reviewing their wards. 39 Victorian councils are also reviewing their wards, with results of those reviews due in three waves. The first wave is due later this month, with the final wave due by January next year.
And of course we’re expecting federal redistributions in three states to kick off later this year.
You can check out all my analysis of these redistributions at the ‘redistribution’ tag.