The NSW Electoral Districts Redistribution Panel has finalised the state’s new electoral boundaries ahead of the March 2023 state election.
The final boundaries have only minor changes compared to the draft published last November. The comments below compare the finalised boundaries to those in use at the last two state elections.
The major boundary change is the abolition of Lakemba, an ultra-safe Labor seat in Sydney’s inner south-west, and the creation of a new and marginal Labor seat called Leppington on Sydney’s south-west fringe. The new boundaries for the southern Sydney Liberal seat of Heathcote transform it into a marginal Labor seat, and the margins in several other Liberal seats have been cut.
I have prepared a publication for the NSW Parliamentary Library that includes the summary below plus full detail on the composition of all new electorates. You can find it at this link (1.4mb).
Full details of the Redistribution Panel’s final determination can be found at the NSW Electoral Commission’s website.
I have a one page summary of the new electoral pendulum at this link.
The table is based on the results of the 2019 state election and does not take account of by-elections and members resigning from or changing parties.
The table reflects changes in party status for the following seats status –
- In inner south-west Sydney, the very safe Labor seat of Lakemba (ALP 22.3%) has been abolished. (See Bankstown map below)
- A new notional Labor seat called Leppington (ALP 1.5%) has been created on Sydney’s south-west fringe. (See map below)
- Heathcote (LIB 5.0%) becomes a notional Labor seat with an estimated ALP margin of 1.7% on its new boundaries. (See map below)
Four districts have adopted new names –
- Baulkham Hills becomes Kellyville, though based on enrolment transfers, it could be argued that the new Castle Hill replaces Baulkham Hills and Kellyville replaces the old Castle Hill.
- Ku-ring-gai is re-named Wahroonga
- Mulgoa is re-named Badgerys Creek
- Seven Hills is re-named Winston Hills
Background and Major Shifts
NSW Electoral boundaries are re-drawn after every second election. All re-drawn districts must have a current enrolment within 10% of the state average, 57,193, at the determination date on 23 March 2020. All districts must also have a projected enrolment for April 2023, one month after the next election, that is within 10% of the projected quota at that date, 59,244.
Ahead of the 2014 redistribution, the O’Farrell government increased the tolerance of the projected enrolment quota from 3% to 10%, giving redistribution commissioners more room to pay attention to community of interest. The current redistribution panel has made greater use of the permitted variation, surprising most observers by making fewer changes to boundaries than expected, especially in rural electorates. There are very few changes to electorates outside of the Sydney metropolitan area.
The major change has been the abolition of the ultra-safe Labor seat of Lakemba (ALP 22.4%) in Sydney’s inner south-west. It is held by Labor frontbencher Jihad Dib, and his seat has essentially become the re-drawn seat of Bankstown (ALP 20.5%). The problem for Labor is the current seat called Bankstown is held by another Labor frontbencher, Tania Mihailuk.
The abolition of Lakemba has created a cascade of changes across south-west Sydney, eventually leaving room for a new and marginal Labor seat called Leppington (ALP 1.5%) covering a string of greenfield suburbs on Sydney’s south-west fringe.
New Labor Leader Chris Minns will face quite a challenge at the next election in his seat of Kogarah. On the new boundaries it becomes the state’s most marginal seat, his margin cut from 1.8% to just 0.1%.
As already noted, the Liberal MP for Heathcote, Lee Evans, faces a serious challenge in his re-drawn seat. It has shed Liberal voting territory in the Sutherland Shire and been pushed south into the left-leaning suburbs of the northern Illawarra. His Liberal margin of 5.0% has been replaced by a notional Labor margin of 1.7%.
There are only minor changes to seats held by Greens, Independents and Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party.
Some of the More Significant changes
- Auburn slips south, losing areas in the new developing estates around Homebush Bay to Parramatta, those areas having been added to the City of Parramatta in the local government amalgamations. The southern boundary pushes south to the Hume Highway and absorbs suburbs between Chester Hill and Yagoona. The Labor margin rises from 9.1% to 13.7%. (See map below)
- The creation of Leppington creates Badgerys Creek with a Liberal margin of 9.7% compared to 11.3% for Mulgoa.
- Bankstown has Labor margin of 20.5% compared to 13.8% for the old Bankstown and 22.4% for the abolished seat of Lakemba. (See map below)
- The Labor margin in Coogee rises from 1.6% to an estimated 2.3%.
- East Hills is currently the Liberal Party’s most marginal seat on 0.5%, and remains so with a reduced margin of 0.1%.
- Holsworthy shifts east, re-gaining parts of Sutherland Shire lost in the last redistribution. The Liberal margin rises from 3.3% to 6.0%. (See map below)
- Kogarah, held by new Labor Leader Chris Minns, has it’s margin cut from 1.8% to just 0.1%. (See map below)
- The three-way contest for Lismore at the next election is shifted by the new boundariess. Labor’s margin tips up from 1.3% to 2.0%, but it is the change in first preferences that is more important. The National vote slips from 39.7% to 39.1%, Labor slips from 25.6% to 25.4%, while the Greens rise from 24.3% to 25.1%.
- Labor’s margin in Londonderry slips from 6.5% to 3.0%
- Newtown is weakened for the Greens, down from 13.8% to what should still be a safe 11.4%. (See map below)
- The Liberal margin for Oatley slips from 10.5% to an estimated 6.8%. (See map below)
- The Liberal margin in Parramatta slips from 10.6% to 6.5%. (See map below)
- Minister Stuart Ayres has his position weakened in Penrith, the Liberal margin down from 1.3% to 0.4%. (See map below)
- The National margin in Upper Hunter falls from 2.6% to an estimated 0.5%. This does not take account of the May 2021 by-election.
Selected Boundary Change Maps
The old Auburn was based on Auburn Council, but that council disappeared in the Baird government’s local government amalgamations. The areas north of Parramatta Road became part of the expanded and ritzier Parramatta City Council. The more working class and ethnically mixed Auburn and Holroyd councils were merged with Parramatta’s former Granville Ward to create Parramatta’s poorer sibling, Cumberland Council.
The 2021 redistribution has adapted electoral boundaries to match the new council boundaries. The growing high density suburbs around Homebush Bay in the Olympics district have been moved into Parramatta, the area having recorded 58.9% Liberal 2PP in 2019 compared to 64% Labor in the rest of the old Auburn. South Granville has been moved into Granville, and Auburn now pushes south to the Hume Highway, taking in the Bankstown suburbs between Chester Hill and Yagoona where the Labor 2PP vote was 65% in 2019.
The map below shows the tricky pre-selection dispute Labor will face in the re-drawn seat of Bankstown. The new Bankstown is a merger of the former seats of Bankstown and Lakemba, but has many more votes from Lakemba than Bankstown, about 39,000 to 18,000. There are more old Bankstown voters now in Auburn than there are in the new Bankstown. There is a good argument that Lakemba has been moved west and re-named Bankstown while it is the old Bankstown that has been abolished.
Two two Labor frontbenchers will have claims on the new Bankstown. Current Labor MP Tania Mihailuk has incumbent name rights in her favour, but Lakemba MP Jihad Dib can claim the new Bankstown has twice as many of his former constituents than it does Mihailuk’s.
There has always been a seat that straddles the boundary between Sutherland Shire and Wollongong City Council, sometimes called Heathcote and sometimes called Bulli. Straddling such a significant social boundary, how far the seat dips into northern Wollongong determines whether the seat is marginal Liberal, marginal Labor or safe Labor.
This redistribution has pushed Heathcote south with serious consequences for Liberal MLA Lee Evans. Heathcote sheds around 12,000 voters west of the Woronora River that voted 65% Liberal 2PP in 2019, replaced by 12,000 voters from Keira that voted 70% Labor 2PP. The 2019 Liberal margin of 5.0% is wiped out, on its new boundaries Heathcote having a Labor margin of 1.7%.
There are four seats based on Sutherland Shire, but geography and a static population means that one or two of thoe seats must extend beyond the shire. NSW Redistribution Commissioners do not like crossing the Georges River, so after drawing Cronulla and Menai, the southern seat (currently Heathcote) runs into the Illawarra, and the western seat pushes west into Liverpool City Council.
That’s what happened to the former Sutherland seat of Menai in the 2013 redistribution. It was pushed west, losing most of the former suburbs west of the Woronora River, and vaulting the Georges River near Liverpool and extending as far west as Prestons. This has been partly reversed by the 2021 redistribution, Prestons and Casula removed in the west, and gaining parts of Bangor and Menai in the east. The consequence has been the Liberal margin doubling from 3.3% to an estimated 6.0%.
The same shift west has been taking place with the overlapping federal seat of Hughes. It looked set to shift west of Liverpool in the last redistribution. Instead, the federal Redistribution Commissioners had far less qualms about crossing the Georges River’s lower reaches, pushing Cook across the Captain Cook and Taren Point Bridges, making room to allow Hughes to remain a predominantly Sutherland Shire seat.
Kogarah Labor MP and new Labor Leader Chris Minns had a swing against him at the 2019 election, and the redistribution has weakened his hold on the seat further. His seat gains an extended Georges River waterfront, picking up Kogarah Bay from Rockdale and the rest of Blakehurst from Oatley. In Sydney’s political geography, waterfront suburbs means Liberal voters, resulting in Minns’ margin being cut from a marginal 1.8% to a hair’s breadth 0.1%.
The Redistribution Panel has conjured Leppington from nowhere, aggregating an unconnected collection of suburbs from seven former electorates, combined with vestigial Cumberland Plains farmland beyond the houses. It is a bits and pieces electorate, containing suburbs around Prestons, West Hoxton and Middleton Grange in the city of Liverpool, Raby, Kearns, Eschol Park and Eagle Vale from Campbelltown, and very new developments nearer Camden in Catherine Field and Denham Court. When combined with the shrinking Sydney green belt that surrounds these suburbs, Leppington emerges as a notional Labor seat with a margin of 1.5%.
Every redistribution pushes Londonderry around, the fate of a seat squeezed between two seats with more obvious cores in Mount Druitt and Penrith. This time it picks up Marsden Park in the north, loses a collection of suburbs to their more obvious home in Mount Druitt, and swaps a couple of suburbs with Penrith. As a result, the Labor margin is halved from 6.5% to 3.0%.
Inner city population growth saw the seat of Newtown created by the 2013 redistribution, and the Greens couldn’t have asked for a better set of boundaries. It was won by the Greens at its first two contests, and should be won by the Greens again in 2023 despite losing a strong Green voting area in Surry Hills, replaced by parts of Erskineville and Alexandria from Heffron, and parts of the Lewisham and Petersham from Summer Hill in the west. The Green margin is estimated to slip from 13.8% to 11.4%.
Liberal MLA Mark Coure has entrenched himself in Oatley since his first victory in 2011. The new boundaries have reversed some of his past gains, the Liberal margin cut from 10.5% to 6.8%. It’s a case of shifting social divides, losing riverside Blakehurst and its 74.3% Liberal 2PP, replaced by parts of Riverwood, Narwee and Beverly Hills where Labor’s 2PP% was 66.7% in 2019.
Parramatta has lost around 21,000 voters north of Kissing Point Road and James Ruse Drive where there was a solid Liberal 2PP of 65% in 2019. It picks up around 4,500 voters from Granville and Seven Hills where the Labor 2PP was more than 60%, but also around 11,000 voters in the high density estates around the Olympic precinct at Homebush Bay where the Liberal 2PP was 59%. Taken together the Liberal margin is reduced from 10.6% to 6.5%.
There have been a collection of nips and tucks around the edges of Penrith that cut the margin of Liberal MP and Minister Stuart Ayres from 1.3% to 0.6%.
The government retained Upper Hunter at a May by-election, but new boundaries for the seat have cut the National margin from 2.6% to an estimated 0.5%. The Nationals lose supporters with the transfer of the Liverpool Plains Shire to Tamworth, replaced by Labor leaning areas closer to Cessnock and Maitland.