The first step in the redistribution of NSW federal electoral boundaries began yesterday with a call for submissions and the release of base enrolment data.
The major scale of boundary changes required has been revealed by the released projected enrolment figures.
NSW is losing a seat at the next Federal election, the state’s representation reduced from 47 to 46 seats.
In addition, with seven years having passed since the last redistribution, enrolments by electoral division have diverged widely from the state average.
Abolishing a division while bringing all divisions back within the permitted variation from quota will require major surgery to some electorates.
And boundary changes will almost certainly have big political consequences.
Several electorates in the state’s west are well below quota and require major changes. Seats in Sydney’s west and south-west are well over quota, in contrast to under quota Sydney seats closer to the coast.
Evening out the enrolment numbers across the Sydney basin will not be easy. Sydney’s many bays and inlets give the city a distinctive political geography. Wholesale boundary changes are going to jumble the electoral margins of many seats.
In the immediate firing line are the four ‘teal’ Independent seats in Sydney’s east.
The seats of Wentworth (Allegra Spender), Mackellar (Sophie Scamps), Warringah (Zali Steggall) and North Sydney (Kylea Tink) are all well under quota. All these seats must increase their enrolment, eating into the territory of seats to their west.
Sydney’s Liberal heartland north of the Harbour looks certain to lose a seat, possible forcing a Liberal MP to nominate against one of the ‘teals’.
There will be a new seat created in Sydney’s outer south-west and the possible abolition of a seat further east. This creates a complex electoral jigsaw that the redistribution commissioners will first have to unpick and then re-assemble.
Inside the post I have maps highlighting the enrolment variations and provide analysis of how new boundaries might be drawn.
In a previous post on NSW redistribution prospects, I looked only at what current enrolment numbers could tell us about the redistribution. In this post I am using the more important projected enrolment numbers.
(And I’m happy to receive and publish suggestions on how the new boundaries might be drawn.)