What sort of redistribution objection can actually work?

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Objections to the federal redistribution proposals for Western Australia and Victoria were published last week. Objections to the NSW proposal close this Friday.

The Victorian objections were dominated by a large number of simple objections in opposition to the abolition of Higgins. North Sydney MP Kylea Tink has launched a campaign on her website to encourage local residents to make similar objections to her seat’s abolition, which leads me to assume a similar flooding of the process in NSW.

But I think these campaigns are making a fundamental mistake which means they aren’t likely to find a success.

While there is room for public involvement in the redistribution process, it’s not just a matter of asking for something loudly and en masse. You actually need to propose practical solutions to the dilemmas faced by the mapmakers.

In the case of North Sydney, the committee was required to expand all of the seats on the northern side of the Sydney. Most others who made suggestions agreed that it made most sense to have Mackellar to expand south in Warringah, and then have Warringah expand west into North Sydney. The details could vary, but that was the general principle.

Sophie Scamps proposed changing her seat of Mackellar in a way that fit with this shift, but her teal neighbours instead proposed things that would have minimal impact on their own seats: Zali Steggall suggested her seat should expand both ways into Mackellar and North Sydney, and Tink proposed that North Sydney expand into both Bradfield and Warringah.

Both Steggall’s and Tink’s proposals would have required Mackellar to shift west into Bradfield and the upper north shore. That wouldn’t have been a crazy idea, but they didn’t even address what that would look like.

I understand that proposing changes to a colleague’s seat would have created tension, but without acknowledge knock-on effects, your suggestion has less credibility and is less likely to be adopted.

The one bit of real doubt with North Sydney would have been whether the remainder of North Sydney was combined with southern parts of Bradfield, or would have been split between Bradfield and Bennelong. But Tink instead proposed a third approach for her area that would have had major knock-on effects in other areas that made much less sense.

Tink’s proposal for her electorate effectively was an argument that Mackellar would have to shift significantly into Bradfield, but she didn’t make any case for such a change.

What is even more fascinating is that Tink’s campaign page seems to be continuing to pursue the original strategy of keeping North Sydney entirely intact, rather than aiming to move Lane Cove and Hunters Hill into the Bradfield/North Sydney overlap seat. I can’t see such an approach getting anywhere.

I haven’t paid quite so much attention to the campaign to save Higgins, but many of the submissions made on behalf of Higgins don’t give the mapmakers any alternative plans that would allow Higgins to be saved – they just make an argument that Higgins is too important a seat to be abolished. But that isn’t how the decision is made.

I don’t normally make submissions into redistributions, but the committee’s proposals for Kingsford Smith and Hughes have motivated me to put something in, which I did last night.

Kingsford Smith was expanded past Sydney Airport to take in suburbs along the Botany Bay shoreline in the former Rockdale council area, while Hughes was expanded to take in the northern suburbs of Campbelltown.

But a submission just saying “don’t do that” won’t get anywhere – you need to present an alternative plan that can work instead.

So I decided to limit my proposal to a nine-seat area in the southern half of Sydney, with the goal of making Kingsford Smith, Hughes and (to a lesser extent) Cook cover much more appropriate boundaries.

If you want to read my submission, you can download the PDF here. You can also download a spreadsheet listing how I allocated each SA1 in these nine seats.

I don’t know if it will go anywhere, but I think it’s more likely to be successful when you acknowledge the dilemmas faced by the mapmakers and work with them to fix problems, rather than just insisting that things should stay the same.

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63 COMMENTS

  1. I think a “Don’t give me problems, give me solutions” approach to objections should be applied.
    No use objecting for objection’s sake if you can’t provide an alternative.
    I had serious issues with the draft boundaries for Victoria. Especially eastern metropolitan divisions.
    But I showed how my alternatives would work.

  2. Correct Ben. A seat has to be abolished.Therefore you need to show why your seat should be retained by reference to geography,business characteristics,density in particular areas etc.
    Mackellar has geographical consitency with coast and beach and none with the bushland areas of Bradfield for example.

  3. I agree Ben. There is always a lot of noise with objections. Most of the commentary around Higgins seems to be “Don’t abolish my electorate”, “My MP is good”, “We’re a community”, “Our electotrate has history”.
    But none of those reasons can’t also be said about the next division over, or the one on the other side of town. They’re not compelling enough reasons why that division should be saved instead of another one.

    Even more so when there is no suggestion for a solution. I mean they don’t have to full on psephology nerd it up like I, and most of us contributing here do, but they could at least provide some form of solution.

    Then again, on the other hand, some objections go too far the other way and basically lodge a full suggestion again (and I’m talking to a couple of contributors here). While it’s well-intentioned, I doubt the Committee is going to take the time to go through a whole process again – with the caveat that maybe Victoria this time because of how bad the original projections were. I like to provide some solutions, some tweaks where they can be a quick win, and if something is particuarly horrible – like the proposed Kingsford Smith or Kooyong – then try to find a decent enough solution without affecting every other seat.

    Also thanks for providing a preview of your objection. I’m using your hard work to compile mine and lodging a very similar proposal for my own. Hopefully, with combined weight of solutions the Committee will take some notice.

  4. Hi Ben (long time reader, first time caller),
    I read your objection and generally agreed – especially on Hughes and Cook.
    What would your proposed boundaries do to the margins of the seats compared to 2022 and the proposal?

  5. The noise sometimes does have an effect. In Victoria, at the last 2 redraws, the original proposal included renaming the seat of Corangamite.

    The seat is named after both the region and the lake, which are both over 100 kilometres from the seat (they are both in the seat of Wannon). Protests at the renaming of Corangamite (which gave no reason for objecting other than it was the old name) won the day, and in both cases the final name of the seat remained Corangamite.

    I can’t think of another example in the last 20 years federally.

  6. It’s easy to revert a seat name. It’s not easy to unpick boundaries.

    And yes changes do happen, but usually only in a localised area. You need to be able to balance the budget. I can’t see any way to do that with North Sydney.

  7. I’m working on a ‘Comments on Objections’ for Victoria at the moment. I’m taking a similar approach to you were I will be suggesting boundaries just for the nearby seats but not the map as a whole.

    The premise of my comment will be broadly agreeing that Higgins should not be abolished, Hotham should be instead as per a number of other Suggestions and Objections, and that because the two seats are right next to each other, abolishing Hotham instead should not require too many changes to the remainder of the map outside the neighbouring seats.

    Then I’ll provide an alternative map of that area – Higgins, Kooyong, Macnamara, Melbourne, Goldstein, Chisholm, Isaacs – to demonstrate how abolishing Hotham instead of Higgins can mostly be contained to that area (and in a way that actually greatly improves the boundaries, rather than the current draft making a lot of the existing issues worse).

  8. Clearly, what is needed is an app that allows you to start at only certain points eg North Head. You then add Census blocks moving either north or west until you have an area that has enough resisdents to fit somewhere between the minimum and maximum required. From there, starting from anywhere on the border of the first area, you can create a second area that again meets the range of residents requirement. Continue until your resulst either fill the state or have created an area that has borders similar to existing electorates.

    Unfortunately, such an app is likely to only be used by 30 people once every 6 years so is not going to generate a lot of interest from developers.

  9. @Ben Raue Absolutely correct. What people don’t realise is that the process is halfway over, so asking the AEC to start again without providing options is just asking to be ignored.

    I’ve also found that submissions from elected members tend to get discounted because in most cases they ask too much and the self-interest is obvious. The same goes for the change.org and other crowd-sourced objections – they’re noted but treated as just another objection, no matter how many people sign.

    If you want to object you need to mount a serious case and you also have to show the downstream impacts of what you propose, not just the effect on one seat. The AEC has normally done a lot of work to get to this stage and creating more work for them without a solid reason to do so isn’t going to get you anywhere.

    The more detail you provide the more persuasive your proposal will be. What I’ve found successful are minor exchanges at the boundaries i.e. swap a couple of SA1s from one seat for a couple of SA1s in the adjoining seat.

    Asking the AEC to turn around and unredistribute a seat ignores the fact that choosing a different seat to kill removes the ability of those affected in that seat to object.

  10. As always I think your work is impeccable. I wish you success – I think your recommendations for Kingsford-Smith, Sydney and Cook would be hard to reject. The disconnected Hughes has long troubled me (as has Whitlam stretching across the Great Divide from the Southern Highlands to Shellharbour). Would it be sensible to? – (clockwise) (1) keep Hughes costal by deleting all the western parts and adding a slab of the Cunningham northern Wollongong suburbs (2) Expand Cunningham south to include the Illawarra parts of Whitlam (ie east of Macquarie Pass) (3) Make Whitlam wholly Southern Highlands by adding Bargo, Wilton, Tahmoor and Picton from Hume (4) Expand Hume to take in suburbs in Macarthur west of the motorway (5) Stretch the rest of Macarthur north to take in Ingleburn, Macquarie Fields, Glenfield, Wattle Grove and Moorebank – (ie those parts that were recommended to be in Hughes)

  11. I live in the North Sydney electorate and I think getting rid of it makes sense TBH. Willoughby fits well into the suburbs along the Northern Line with Bradfield and Lane Cove and Hunters Hill used to be in Bennelong anyway! The actual city of North Sydney is its own thing and can go anywhere – Warringah is as good as any.

  12. Objections for NSW close this Friday. If anyone hasn’t yet, put your objections in now or sometime within the next three-day period.

  13. I would object to your proposal where it splits Woronora Valley down the river. Woronora is an old river valley community with a very distinctive character. The west bank and east back should remain one community. Tying the west back to Bangor in Hughes, which tying the east bank to Sutherland in Cook is not good.

    Woronora is better tied as a whole to Bonnet Bay, they have much in common.

  14. I agree with the general sentiment that once an electorate is slated for abolition, it would be hard to bring it back because it would mean a redraw of a gazillion boundaries. Higgins and North Sydney look set to be gone.

    The least that could be done is to keep as geographically or economically or culturally connected parts together e.g. keep all of Chatswood intact which I think Kylea Tink originally asked for in a submission.

    I’m guessing most of the noise regarding NSW will be about:
    The abolition of North Sydney
    The bayside bend of Kingsford Smith.
    Hughes and Hume, as both are radically redrawn – I suspect Sutherland Shire residents object to having Macquarie Fields in their electorate.

  15. The most substantial redraft in WA redistributions (post 1983) was in 1989 when it was originally proposed to locate Stirling entirely west of Wanneroo Road and Cowan entirely to its east. The effect would have been to make Cowan safe ALP and Stirling a likely Liberal gain. The ALP marshalled a number of community organisations and individuals stressing the east-west communities of interest to maintain Stirling as a horizontal medium/inner suburban seat and the Augmented Commission accepted these arguments and essentially restored the original boundaries.
    Labor retained both still-marginal seats in 1990 but lost both in 1993.

  16. The guidelines used to be that if a seat needed to be abolished it would be selected by looking at the two adjoining seats which had the lowest combined number of voters. According to the AEC Wentworth has 104,081 voters and Warringah has 105,759. North Sydney kicks in at #18 with 112,630. The quota is 121,011.

    Obviously the AEC isn’t prepared to have an electorate with the Harbour in the middle (although Norfolk Island is 1,900 km away from it’s electorate of Bean, Jervis Bay is 200 km away from it’s electorate of Fenner and Lord Howe Island is roughly 800 km away from Wentworth).

    If I were being argumentative I’d say that the ferry system provides sufficient transport links and the coastal location satisfies the community of interest requirement.

    But my submission would have probably been to abolish Reid and then infill all of the Sydney seats that are under quota because that appears to be where the majority of the problems are. There’s still an issue with the over-quota Macquarie and Werriwa but everything else is just a minor touch-up.

  17. Mark, I’ve never heard of such a guideline. You might be confusing it for the mini-redistribution procedure? It sounds just like that.

  18. I do wonder how the Donnybrook Balingup objections will go. They made up every coherent non Bullwinkel objection in WA and I know the council is against the change. Thing is I’m unsure of how O’Connor and Canning could be drawn without it.

  19. Hi Ben, As a resident of the Sutherland Shire, I agree with your proposed changes to both Cook and Hughes. Cook moving further west is logical as it follows both the Georges River and the Woronora River. Cook constituent in Bayside LGA would likely suggest the same. Hughes, as you point out has a large “no residential area” with the electoral taking in the Royal National Park, Heathcote National Park and Holsworthy. The large central green space works to isolate the respective LGAs. And bolting on Ingleburn & Macquarie Fields produces an almost Frankenstienian electorate. Your suggestion of expanding north to Chipping Norton appears a more natural extension.

  20. @Ben

    Nice suggestion, and I agree with it in principle.

    In practice, I think it’s worth being mindful that this redistribution procedure needs to be accessible to everyday citizens, but that the mathematics and geography required to develop a “practical solution” currently require advanced skills and a decent amount of time.

    Those requirements are beyond most people, but that shouldn’t stop them submitting something of some merit, and it shouldn’t stop the AEC from considering their points of view when there is some merit involved.

    “I understand that proposing changes to a colleague’s seat would have created tension…”

    I think you’re being unfair to these 3x independents you mention. They’re politically aligned, allies perhaps, but they’re not colleagues. Their only responsibility is to their individual constituents, and that’s probably why they each submitted brief suggestions.

    “…but without acknowledge knock-on effects, your suggestion has less credibility and is less likely to be adopted.”

    That’s a fair argument to make. Maybe an MP should have a greater burden of proof for their submission than a citizen, but maybe that’s asking a lot of a busy first term independent MP and their limited staff… I don’t know what it’s like for them.

    What did Dai Le do, did she not submit in the first round? That’s not a solution.

    So what can we do better?

    Option 1 (my preferred)
    The AEC should develop an app for everyone to make DIY submissions.

    Option 2 (better than 1, IMO)
    Perhaps in a ‘complex’ redistribution, the AEC should be required to develop at least 3x different draft redistribution proposals for each state. Put these options up for public submissions and discussions. This addresses Mark’s good comment that the current approach is less fair if the seat identified for abolition is changed after the draft stage.

    (I’m defining ‘complex’ as any redistribution when the number of seats in a state is changing).

    Option 3
    If the redistribution requirements remain veiled in complexity, then perhaps all parties and independents should be provided a modest allowance for the cost of a consultant to advise them on the implications of a ‘complex’ redistribution.

  21. Peter, you are quite right that it’s not reasonable to expect everyone to know how best to write into this but I absolutely do think MPs and former MPs running these campaigns should understand what they are working on.

    I literally reached out to Tink’s office to check that they understood what was happening early in the process and they didn’t take it up. There are people who can help them. Meanwhile they spend a fortune on campaign advisors.

  22. Oh goodonya, Ben, that would have been a nice thought.

    Yeah making a good argument for a redistribution is one thing. Being able to draw up a suggestion that meets the redistribution requirements in every seat while not making a dogs breakfast out of the whole state is another thing. I’m guessing that even a staffer probably wouldn’t be able to do that themselves unless they took the time to learn how. Or they should reach out for help – try and find an enthusiastic psephologist willing to help them?

    In the current situation, since any everyday citizen can become an MP if they get elected, then they’ve got a massive amount to learn, so knowing how to respond to a complex redistribution is just another thing on that list.

    So I still reckon it would help to suggest wherever possible that the AEC needs to make the redistribution more accessible to everyday people. Just 2c. Cheers!

  23. Objections that involve “rotations” like Ben Raue’s are likely to work well as their impacts are localised.

    In the previous NSW redistribution, the final determination had the divisions surrounding Watson rotate clockwise relative to the first proposal:
    – The Drummoyne peninsula was moved from Grayndler to Reid
    – The southern boundary of Grayndler was moved from Marrickville Road to the rail line
    – Barton pushed further west
    – The northern boundary of the East Hills portion of Banks moved from the rail line to the M5
    – The balance of Auburn was moved from Reid to Blaxland

    It was a really good change, leading to improvements in all of those divisions.

  24. “Being able to draw up a suggestion that meets the redistribution requirements in every seat while not making a dogs breakfast out of the whole state is another thing.”

    I don’t think it’s necessary to draw the whole state. Indeed I think for anyone who does it’s more of an exercise in completeness for them rather than being practically helpful.

    But I think you do need to have some sense of where the population flows are headed. I described the North Sydney issue to a colleague as deciding which way to direct the flood. You can’t stop the water running, but you can decide where. If you’re making suggestions for North Sydney you need to know the rough number of voters who are going to need to be accomodated in Warringah and Mackellar before you can give any sensible advice elsewhere.

    Likewise if you’re going to make suggestions for Sydney and Grayndler you need to have a sense of what options are realistic for Wentworth and Kingsford Smith. And if you want to do something to Cowper you need to know how much population needs to be displaced further north, even if you don’t suggest precisely where that boundary should be drawn.

  25. “I don’t think it’s necessary to draw the whole state.”

    Yep, agreed.

    “But I think you do need to have some sense of where the population flows are headed.”

    Ideally, yes, but that’s getting into advanced skills territory. Even if they could work that out, how much is enough?

    Given that the media pays more attention to MP’s submissions, if an MP were to submit something bigger (say something that considers all of northern Sydney in this case), then they open themselves up to criticism if they make any local compromises for the sake of areas outside of their constituency, or if any of the details of their suggestion are flawed in some way.

    Let’s also keep in mind that the population is not ‘flowing’ around very much in a practical sense – the big shift is caused by the numeric requirement to lose a seat somewhere. If it wasn’t for that, the redistribution would be much simpler, and the local-scale arguments would be sufficient for any smaller boundary adjustments.

    So yeah, perhaps in this complex redistribution, MPs and others could make better arguments in their submissions, but certainly the AEC could make the issue more accessible for everyday people to deal with.

  26. @Ben Raue Hi Ben, you’re right! That’s the process for mini-redistributions in case of an election being called before a redistribution has been gazetted. I always thought it was the starting point for the AEC so I’m happy to be corrected.

    Having said that it’s not a bad jumping-off point for redistributions in general, and there’s a question of whether the election will be called early before the NSW redistribution is completed.

    Also, in terms of the submissions for North Sydney. In 1984 the AEC sought advice from the then Attorney-General on whether political considerations could form part of the redistribution process and were advised that it was within their discretion. They took the opinion that fairness and politics were not part of the Commonwealth Electoral Act and that has been their stated view in every redistribution since then. So I’m wondering why the abolition of North Sydney would be any different. I’m not sure who’s advising Tink’s office.

  27. Ben, I absolutely agree with your proposal for Cook and Hughes. I live in Bonnet Bay and our main community links and infrastructure are to the east. Jannali/Sutherland/Kirrawee/Miranda is where we shop, catch the train, try to park etc. The communities living along the River, Bonnet Bay and Woronora have issues specific to them, of managing the increasingly frequent flood risk ( Dam spilling, extreme weather events, rain bombs).
    But we sit at the edge of all of the electoral boundaries, Local Govt, State and Federal.
    Bonnet Bay and Woronora are E Ward, but Jannali is C Ward and Sutherland is D Ward so the local government representation is fragmented.
    Then Bonnet Bay is In Miranda State Electorate but Woronora is in Heathcote State electorate.
    And the proposed Hughes/Cook boundary separates us again, so there is different representation for where we reside to our main community infrastructure and facilities. We are like orphans.
    Aligning Bonnet Bay and Woronora (both sides of the river) in Cook electorate is logical and inclusive.

  28. @peter doing ultiple drafts would increase the amount of time required and would be self defeating. they read all suggestion then come up with a draft and then put these suggestion up for discussion is the only real viable option they then take into account ay objections and more oftern then not would make alterations in order to accomodate people. the problem with this time is the wa and vic numbers were wrong and therefore any suggestions submitted were wrong and basically just started from nothing. this is why in my objections for wa and vic ive suggested they take into account any revised suggestions

  29. The AEC aren’t dictators. They cannot have things all their way, what is the government was to intervene and publicly tell the AEC they object to Higgins being abolished? And if the opposition joined them as well. And perhaps even the Greens since it is a target seat for all 3 parties.

    I respectfully disagree with you Ben that a seat that was held by 2 former pm’s and a treasurer “isn’t a sufficient reason to not abolish” it is, it doesn’t have to be in the rule book, it is just unconventional but not illegal.

    The AEC should consult the public and government as to which seat to abolish (by names only) I would favour them drawing the boundaries, but allowing the public and government to set the names of the seats that the AEC draw, because the person that was honoured by the seat of Higgins no longer will have that honour anymore, and for what reason? Party politics by the AEC clearly, wanting to scrap names out of history.

    The AEC should commit to bringing the seat name back if a seat gets added next time, but knowing them, they won’t, Higgins will be history and the legacy of H. B. Higgins will be thrown down the toilet, and so will the members who represented this seat who I mentioned before.

    Albo needs to intervene. The only hope we have of saving Higgins. I’m sure the government can pass emergency legislation that tells the AEC to redo the redistribution again because we haven’t reached the cut-off date for the final boundaries.

    Just to be clear I am not trying to sound ridiculous here, I just feel strongly that it is wrong to abolish a seat that has existed for over 70 years with an extensive history.

  30. It does sound pretty ridiculous.

    You can’t completely separate the names and the boundaries. And yes, it’s a deliberately independent process.

  31. @Daniel T
    The government, opposition and Greens can object to it through the consultation process. I suppose the government does always have the option of not accepting the change. That would probably constitute a crisis in government because they’d no longer be following the law. But that would undermine the whole reason we even have the AEC.
    While it’s nice to have a division named for Higgins, it’s just wrong to say “the legacy of H. B. Higgins will be thrown down the toilet”. It just means he won’t have a division named after him. Just like Lawson, Streeton or Burke no longer do. Their history and accomplishments still exist.
    You say the AEC should allow the public and government to set the names of the seats that the AEC draw. Did you see how many name changes were suggested by the submissions, comments and objections? Do we have a public vote on the names of every division? Do we then get to change every division’s name every time?
    Emergency legislation? To save the name of a division that doesn’t really mean much? That I’d guess more than half the electorate of the division don’t even know who it’s named after?
    It’s just a federal electoral division!
    Apart from one day every 3 years, the name doesn’t actually mean anything. Your local member is still your member.

  32. I’ve said this before but all this controversy and pointless distraction over naming makes me wish we handled this matter either as the UK does (purely geographical names) or as the US does (numbering).

  33. Agree Darren and Nicholas – with the UK they rename electorates all the time when they do redistributions, and no-one really cares about the names of seats that were held by high profile figures (PM and other Cabinet ministers).

  34. @Nicholas and Yoh An,
    I really like that we name divisions after prominent (or not so prominent) Australians, but you’re not wrong!

    There is always much noise over the names of divisions. Most of the suggestions had several renames, and then comment were arguing about the names in the suggestions.

    We wouldn’t have had most of the Higgins objections if it was just called Toorak-Malvern and now gets called Kew-Armadale. The recent Vic redivision changed something like 8 names and no one was fazed by it.

  35. I would hate numbered districts. I already hate numbered wards. They’re just so unoriginal and uncreative.

    For example, congressional districts in the US House of Representatives (and in many state legislatures) are named “[state] [number][st/nd/rd/th] congressional district]”, for example, California’s 1st congressional district. California’s 1st congressional district covers northeastern California, so why not call it something like “Northeast California”? Its largest metropolitan area is Chico, so why not call it Chico?

    In France, they do a similar thing with numbering, except they call them constituencies (circonscriptions in French) and are named after departments (the second-level subdivisions of France, equal to LGAS in Australia; the first-level ones are regions which are equal to states and territories in Australia but with less powers), for example Nord’s 1st constituency (1ère circonscription du Nord). It covers the central and southern parts of the city of Lille, so it could be called Lille Central and South (Lille central et sud).

    They also number single-member constituencies in countries like France (e.g Nord’s 1st constituency) and Japan (e.g Tokyo 1st district). In Germany there are some that are numbered (e.g Cologne I, II and III in North Rhine-Westphalia) but most aren’t (e.g Böblingen in Baden-Württemberg).

  36. I’d like exclusively geographic indicators, but with the best attempt at an indigenous name; whether the actual name for an area, or a word from a local indigenous language to describe an area geographically or even just any word from a local language. Could also be plants or animals.

  37. Worth noting that state redistributions usually involve a lot more name changes beyond seats being created and abolished, which is necessary because the names have a lot more in common with the area. I think the AEC could be a bit more comfortable with more seats being created and abolished.

    The last WA state redistribution abolished one seat and created another, but also four other seats were renamed. Interestingly two other seats were proposed to be renamed and were reverted on the final boundaires.

    Six were renamed in the last Victorian redistribution, and six seats were renamed in the NSW redistribution.

  38. @Daniel T despite voting for different parties, on this occasion I’ve gotta agree with you. If the AEC wants to keep naming seats are after people then a seat that had two PMs and a long-serving Treasurer should be kept.

    @John reading Daniel T’s comment, I’m starting to agree that we need to have mostly geographical names to make sure we aren’t dishonouring people when the seats are abolished.

    The one exception I’d make is for seats named after former PMs. They should be kept.

    Another thing to add to my to-do list: create new (geographic) names for every electorate (where possible).

  39. It’s also odd that Steven Irwin doesn’t have a seat named after him yet (though he does have a species of snail named after him, Crikey steveirwini; yes, Latin scientific names often are named after words, places or or people).

  40. The ideas of “democratising” the redistribution process and of Parliamentary intervention over seat names are both silly. The AEC will properly give more consideration to whole-of-state submissions than localised ones. It isn’t technically difficult to design a redistribution. The tools are the SA1 and SA2 information provided by the AEC plus the ABS map that locates them. All you need is a calculator and patience.
    Neither boundaries nor names should be decided by some kind of popular vote.
    Prior to 1983 Parliament had to legislate redistributions and we don’t want to go back there, the 1983-84 reforms had bipartisan support and have worked well. Divisions should only be named after eminent Australians, and geographic names, even as historic as North Sydney, should be gradually eliminated.
    Perhaps the name Higgins could be revived for an outer suburban division in a future redistribution. When inner city Parkes and Isaacs were abolished in 1968, Isaacs was immediately recreated for a new seat and Parkes was revived in 1984 for a country division.

  41. @Nether Portal The problem with naming seats after people is that eventually people forget who the seat was named after. While they make great trivia questions, who remembers the namesakes of the seats of Boothby, Shortland, Fowler or Lilley? Along with the transience of fame (or notoriety) how many generations would it take to forget who Irwin was named after? And why would a seat be called Irwin and not Minogue?

    One of the great problems with calling for the full involvement of the public in naming seats is that you’d immediately end up with the new electorate of Seaty McSeatface.

    @John The difficulty with naming seats in an indigenous language is that it only works for relatively small areas. Once you get to larger seats the choice of which language to use becomes problematic. For example, replacing Leichardt – are you going to go with Wik or Kokowarra? Maybe Anggamudi or Umpila? You’ve got at least 28 separate language groups and that’s before we even get to the Torres Strait Islands.

    We’ve already seen how seats can drift away from geographic features that they were named after. As for numbering the US has the advantage of numbering by (relatively small) states. So while California may have 52 districts, Rhode Island only has 2. Although it has the advantage of raising awareness of exactly how much power is concentrated in the capital cities, there would be disagreements about how to start and end the numbering.

    @Peter When you look at the redistribution submissions from elected Members, they invariably fall into the argument of “This is my seat and this is how to make it safer for me, irrespective of the impact on my fellow party MP’s or even common sense.” There’s no creature in the world more panicked than an MP faced with a 3 percent shift no matter how safe their seat is.

  42. Having read your objection, I think it contains a very sensible set of proposals that make sense almost all along the way. However, this is not the case in Hughes. I struggle to understand how the Georges Hall and surrounding suburbs have a connection to the majority of the rest of the electorate. I would argue that the part of Kingsford Smith that you, rightly, wanted returned to Barton has more in common with the rest of Kingsford Smith than the Georges Hall area has with Hughes. Would there be any way to fix that problem to turn your submission into a perfect objection?

  43. It’s not ideal but I think it’s far superior to the inclusion of northern Campbelltown.

    The alternative would’ve been to expand Hughes further into the Liverpool area, but I didn’t want to modify more seats and that would push Fowler probably into McMahon.

  44. Frank/Ben, another solution to expanding Hughes is for it to straddle the Georges River in the East Hills and Panaia area. It will therefore absorb large parts of Banks district, probably resulting in major flow on changes.

    This is preferrable as the Revesby to East Hills corridor on the northern bank of Georges River does share similar characteristics to the suburbs south of the river (Alfords Point and Worona).

  45. I feel as if Ben is right to pull Earlwood, Clemton Park and other portions of suburbs out of Barton, but I feel as if the Undercliffe Region (East Earlwood) should be moved to Grayndler and the Western Part of Earlwood be moved to Watson.

    Undercliffe demographically is more like its eastern counterparts of Marrickville and Tempe. While the Western Half of Earlwood is more like its Western counterparts of Kingsgrove and Clemton Park. Overall I think it would be beneficial for both.

  46. That makes sense in isolation, WestSydPol, but you then need to find more voters for Grayndler somewhere else. I think keeping Earlwood as a unit was the best option.

    Yoh An, that was an option, but while they may be similar I don’t actually think they share much community of interest?

  47. Fair point Ben – the suburbs surrounding Liverpool including Chipping Norton, Warwick Farm and Casula are better to be combined with the Sutherland Shire (this arrangement is used for the state seat of Holsworthy).

    Although I was thinking that Frank’s comment has merit because the Revesby/Panania area is demographically similar to the Sutherland Shire compared to suburbs like Georges Hall which are too close to Bankstown and have different demographics compared to the Sutherland Shire.

  48. On Ben’s submission…

    Keeping in mind that Hughes is a difficult area to draw into a seat, and that it’s inevitable that some seats in any proposal will be more compromised than others, I think it’s a much better compromise for Kingsford Smith to do the Bayside arc properly (not the halfhearted way the AEC did it). I agree with Frank’s assessment.

    On the naming of submissions…

    – The UK’s geographic names seems to make sense, so I’d prefer that marginally over our naming system. But if we are going to use names, I don’t want to make any exceptions for former PMs.

    – While I like the idea of using Aboriginal names here in theory, in practice, aside from the problem Mark identifies about name clashes in large areas, perhaps the main point of an Aboriginal name is that it’s specific to a particular place and therefore it seems like that name shouldn’t be applied to an area that gets moved around.

    – Like Nether Portal, I would hate numbered divisions. That would make things completely soulless.

    On Jeremy’s comments…

    “democratising the redistribution process”.

    In case you’re talking about my comments, let me clarify that I’m arguing the AEC needs to make it more *accessible* for everyday citizens to make sound suggestions. The final decision on the redistribution should remain with the independent AEC – it is not a decision to be made ‘democratically’.

    “It isn’t technically difficult to design a redistribution… All you need is a calculator and patience.”

    Haha. That’s slow, prone to errors, and makes it very difficult to produce a good suggestion that isn’t fundamentally flawed in some way.

    In the current age, it’s not too much to ask for the AEC to provide some convenient digital tools. It would even make the AEC’s job easier, as a digital submission would be easier for them to review.

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