NSW ward redistributions completed


New South Wales councils will be up for election in September 2024, and the process of redrawing ward boundaries for these elections has now concluded. I have now finished making my new boundary map. In this post I’ve run through what changes happened in the 16 redrawn councils, and posted a map showing how the wards have changed in those councils.

For those councils with wards, redistributions were required where the gap between the most populous and least populous wards exceeded 10% at particular points in time. Other councils were free to redraw their wards, but weren’t required to do so. I explained this process in more detail in this post.

Councils can only redraw wards within the existing electoral structure. A referendum is needed if a council wants to change the number of councillors, the number of wards or introduce or eliminate wards.

49 out of 128 NSW councils used wards at the 2021 elections. Two of those councils voted to abolish their wards at referendums in 2021 – Dubbo and Walcha – so they have no need to redraw their ward maps.

For the other 47, I went through the council minutes looking for a discussion of the issue and a proposal to redraw the wards (or not). Unfortunately NSW has no centralised process run by the Electoral Commission, and instead it’s run locally by each council, so it’s a painful process.

I identified changes to wards in 16 councils. Five other councils definitively considered the issue and made no change. In the case of North Sydney they considered the issue and deferred the matter, and I can’t find any further discussion.

There’s a further 25 councils where I couldn’t find any consultation or decision on the matter, so I’ve had to assume that there is no change for any of these councils. In most cases this makes sense – these are councils where there wasn’t a big population imbalance. But in the case of Georges River, they don’t appear to have made any changes despite the wards being too far out of the 10% range.

I have now finished compiling new ward boundaries for the 16 redrawn councils, which I run through below one by one. You can download the ward boundaries, along with those used for the 2008, 2011-12, 2016-17 and 2021 elections, on the maps page.

This map shows the old and new boundaries for those 16 councils with new wards. You can toggle each set of boundaries on and off, and can also turn on and off the names of the wards. The map is zoomed in on the urban parts of NSW, but it covers as far away as the Murray River, Tenterfield and Ballina councils.

You’ll notice a trend where many of these councils are in outer suburban areas where population growth is most rapid (and more importantly is concentrated in certain parts of a council). The list includes five large councils in Western Sydney, while there are very few in the eastern half of Sydney. The four neighbouring councils surrounding Newcastle have all redrawn their wards, but not Newcastle itself.

  • Ballina – The northern NSW council ended up abandoning its first planned redistribution and replaced it with a more radical redrawing which passed through a highly contentious and divided council meeting. The C ward expanded slightly into the B ward. The bigger changes were between the A and B wards. The East Ballina area has been unified in the B ward, while the A ward expanded north into Cumbalum.
  • Bayside – The former Botany Bay council has been growing faster than the former Rockdale council, which has forced Ward 3 to take parts of Banksia and Arncliffe from Ward 2, along with a minor change between Wards 1 and 2. Ward 5 then expanded north to take in part of Ward 3. Ward 4 was left untouched.
  • Blacktown – The northern wards have had substantially more population growth than the southern wards. Ward 1 has contracted, losing voters to wards 2 and 4. Ward 3 also lost some voters to Ward 4, and Ward 2 also gained some voters from Ward 4. Ward 5 lost some voters to Ward 4.
  • Camden – Most of the enrolment growth in Camden has taken place in the North Ward. The North Ward has lost Harrington Park to the South Ward and gained Gledswood Hills from the Central Ward. Central ward also gained Spring Farm from the South Ward.
  • Cessnock – The A Ward gained territory from all three other wards. The B Ward, which covers central Cessnock and is the most compact ward, has expanded east into areas previously in the C Ward. The C Ward has lost its southern end. It previously covered the rural areas between the Cessnock and Kurri Kurri townships, but this area has been split between the B and D wards. The D Ward, which covers Kurri Kurri, lost its southern end to the A Ward but gained areas closer to Kurri Kurri from the C Ward.
  • Fairfield – The suburb of Mount Pritchard was shifted from the Parks Ward to the Fairfield/Cabravale Ward.
  • Lake Macquarie – The East Ward expanded and the West Ward contracted, which forced the North Ward to shift west. The North Ward gained Boolaroo, Lakelands, Macquarie Point and Speers Point from the West Ward, while losing parts of Warners Bay and Mount Hutton to the East Ward. There were smaller population exchanges the other way.
  • Lane Cove – The Central Ward has expanded slightly into the West Ward, but the East Ward was untouched.
  • Maitland – The four wards were renamed and substantially redrawn. The wards were previously named with cardinal directions, but those cardinal directions did a poor job of describing the positions of the wards. The Central Ward has been renamed Ward 1, and expanded north to take in Maitland Vale, and east to take in Tenambit and Raworth. The North Ward (which actually occupies the south-east of the council) has been renamed Ward 2 and has contracted in size. The East Ward (which actually occupies the middle of the southern end of the council) has been renamed Ward and has lost its western edge to become more compact. The West Ward has lost its north-eastern corner and expanded south and been renamed Ward 4. Really you’ve got to check out the map.
  • Murray River – This small council on the Victorian border had a chance to abolish its wards in 2021 but almost two thirds voted to keep them. The urban Moama ward has expanded slightly, while the western Greater Wakool ward has expanded to take in a large but sparsely populated area from the Greater Murray ward.
  • Parramatta – This council has taken a minimalist approach to addressing the enormous growth concentrated in the Olympic Park peninsula. Dundas and Epping wards have been left untouched. The Rosehill ward has lost some of its territory in the Parramatta CBD south of the railway line as well as Mays Hill to the Parramatta ward. The Parramatta ward has then lost parts of Northmead to the North Rocks ward.
  • Port Stephens – Two very minor changes on the Central/East and Central/West borders.
  • Ryde – A very minor change in the Macquarie Park area saw the West Ward gain from the Central Ward. No changes to the East Ward.
  • Shellharbour – Minor changes to all four wards. The lakeside B Ward has expanded slightly into both the A and D wards. The inland A Ward exchanged territory in both directions with the southern D Ward, and D Ward also had changes in both directions with the coastal C Ward.
  • Tenterfield – Three wards were left untouched. The urban E Ward expanded slightly, taking in some areas from the B Ward.
  • The Hills – The West Ward expanded to the east, taking in parts of Baulkham Hills from the East Ward. The East Ward expanded north to take in everything south of Gilbert Road around Castle Hill from the Central Ward. The Central and North wards exchanged territory in both directions. North Ward gained the area north of Gilbert Road, while the Central Ward gained Beaumont Hills from the North Ward.

I actually made submissions to three of these councils objecting to their proposed redistributions. The details varied, but generally my objections were to boundaries that were too modest in making changes and thus left the fastest-growing areas with above-average enrolments. In all three cases the council ignored my submission and implemented their draft map. But that’s a bigger conversation for another day about how this process needs to be improved. For your interest, they were for Blacktown, Camden and Parramatta.

I also have calculated the share of each council’s electors who have been moved to a different ward. 25% of electors in Camden have been moved. Over 10% were moved in Maitland (11.7%), the Hills (11.6%) and Lake Macquarie (10.2%), and the number was 9% in Ballina and Cessnock, 7% in Blacktown and Murray River and 6.6% in Shellharbour. The least-affected council was Ryde, where just 0.7% of voters were moved.

I should also note that I am planning to calculate the changing vote margins for each party in redistributed councils, but only for those councils with over 100,000 people. There are 25 councils that meet that criteria, and eight of those councils have redrawn their wards. For those eight, that information will be in the council election guide which I am hoping to finish this year.

Liked it? Take a second to support the Tally Room on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!


  1. Did you check NSW Electoral Office approval? Council resolution require OLG & NSW EC approval. There was some debate over whether Shellharbour Council had complied with s 210A of the LG Act?

  2. I make this comment because, 4 months later, the NSWEC website is still showing the old boundaries at 21 November 2023.

  3. Is there a place where the NSWEC indicates their approval? They don’t appear to have done so anywhere.

    What was the issue with Shellharbour?

    And where on the NSWEC website do they publish ward boundaries?

  4. No, sorry, Ballina’s population is under 50,000. I’m narrowing my focus to the biggest councils. The eight I’m referring to are Bayside, Blacktown, Camden, Fairfield, Lake Macquarie, Parramatta, Ryde and The Hills.

  5. Ben: sorry for delay
    1. The council proposed ward boundaries were considered not to meet the statutory requirement because they do not meet the requirements of s 211 of the Act or OLG Circular as they did not consider future elector growth trends in the council and various wards. The elector growth of Shellharbour has not been uniform across wards since ward boundaries were determined four years ago on 23 July 2019. Between July 2019 and April 2023, the number of Ward A voters have increased by 25% compared to Ward B (2.6%), Ward C (5%) and Ward D (2.1%).This had led to a situation where the number of Ward A electors exceeds the smallest ward by over 27% at April 2023 (less than two years into the current council term); and will probably reach well over 30% by the end of the current council term. It was stated that this situation should be unacceptable to a democratically elected council; and every effort should be made to ensure that it is not repeated (or at least mitigated against) in the next term of council. It is highly likely that this past growth trend will be maintained between 2023 and 2027. Yet the Council proposed preferred boundary wards plan still proposed that Ward A will have the largest number of electors at 2.8% above the smallest proposed ward. And this was at April 2023 & that figure is already out of date at redistribution date as development and elector growth is continuing to be centred on Ward A. It is likely that even at the election date in 2024, Ward A boundaries on the council proposed preferred boundaries would be already beyond the 10% elector deviation from the smallest ward, presumably Ward C. By the end of the council term Ward A voters could be back to the current level of 30% greater than the smallest ward. The best solution was obvious. Ward A must have the minimum number of electors allowed under the 10% tolerance based on April 2023 NSWEC figures so that as the elector population of Ward A grows then it will catch up to Ward B & D. Obviously Ward C is also growing faster than Wards B and D and so it should also be allowed room for growth also to catch up. This view was rejected as council said that there was no legislative obligation to consider future population growth. Presumably this situation was acceptable to this “democratically elected council”
    2. A further legal problem may also have arisen concerning this redistribution namely that s 210A of the Local Government act 1993 has NOT been complied with in respect of this redistribution proposal. S 210A relevantly states (1) Before … altering a council’s ward boundaries, the council must- … (b) prepare and publicly exhibit a plan detailing the proposed division or alteration (the “ward boundary plan”) & (2) The council must give public notice of the following—
    (c) the period during which submissions regarding the ward boundary plan may be made to the council (being a period of not less than 42 days after the date on which the ward boundary plan is placed on public exhibition). The relevant council notice contained on the council website stated “The Ward Boundary Plan was on public exhibition from 22 August 2023 to 19 September 2023 and submissions could be made up to 29 September 2023”. Of course, 29 September 2023 is not a period not less than 42 days after the date on which the proposed ward boundaries was placed on public exhibition. As such the Shellharbour Council has not formally …adopted the ward boundaries following public exhibition required by s 210A of the Local Government Act” .
    3. The link to NSWEC is:


    4. The Enrolment Variance Report identifies the percentage variance between the highest and lowest ward enrolment for each LGA with wards. The calculation has been done in accordance with Office of Local Government Circular to Council (PDF, 0.1MB).

  6. That link doesn’t appear to include the results of the process, just explaining how it works.

    It does sound like they didn’t quite exhibit it for long enough but you have to also bear in mind that any alternative map would’ve required a similar procedure to start over, so I’m sure they’d have worked that issue out.

    It sounds like Shellharbour has done a poor job with its boundaries. Indeed I wrote lengthy submissions arguing against the draft ward boundaries for Parramatta, Blacktown and Camden on a similar basis. And they were completely ignored. I don’t see anything in section 211 which obliges a council to take account of future trends.

    So yeah, bad map, but it seems to be valid.

  7. Ben: The meaning of the requirements to keep ward boundaries under review is to be read in the context of the section as a whole that the number of electors in one ward in its area differs by no more than 10 per cent from the number of electors in any other ward in its area. If the council’s obligation was merely to carry out a ward changes when directed by s 211(2) then why the additional requirement to keep ward boundaries under review. Of course whether this construction is right or wrong it’s still hard to think that the power under s 211 was exercised bona fide and for a proper purpose (in the legal sense) if it produces a scheme where wards likely depart from the 10% requirement even before the actual vote in 2024?

  8. Even if you are correct, you’d need to sue to determine if you’re right. I made a submission to the City of Blacktown pointing out that they had drawn their fastest-growing ward at just under 10% and would surely breach the 10% rule imminently and they barely bothered to respond.

  9. I would also point out that councils are obligated to redraw their boundaries only if the 10% rule was breached *prior to the previous election* and has again been breached one year after the election. That certainly implies that a 10% deviation is okay some of the time.

Comments are closed.