electoral boundaries

New State Electoral Boundaries for South Australia Finalised

(Post re-written and updated 20 November)

South Australia’s Electoral Districts Boundaries Commission (EDBC) released the final version of the state’s new electoral boundaries on 18 November. The new boundaries will apply for the first time at the next South Australian election in March 2022.

The final boundaries unwound some of the more consequential changes proposed by the draft boundaries. After much opposition, Mount Barker was retained in Kavel, leaving that seat based in the Adelaide Hills, and allowing Schubert to be a Barossa Valley based seat. Flowing from this, the proposed move of Gawler into Schubert was undone, unravelling major changes to Light and resulting in a string of further changes to seats across northern Adelaide.

The final boundaries also unwound a series of suburb swaps between the inner-southern Adelaide seats Badcoe and Elder with political consequences for the margins in both seats.

If you are after more detail on the composition of the new electorates, maps can be found on the EDBC’s website.

In this post I’ll provide some commentary on the approach taken by the EDBC and the political consequences that flow from the changes.
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NSW State Redistribution – Draft Electoral Boundaries

The NSW Electoral Districts Redistribution Panel released draft state electoral boundaries on Monday, bringing enrolments for all 93 electorates back within the permitted variations from state average.

The major change brought about by the new boundaries 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 held seats have also been cut.

Update – my analysis of the new boundaries has been published by the NSW Parliamentary Library. You can find it at this link.
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2020 South Australian Redistribution – Release of Draft Boundaries

(Update: the final boundaries were released on 18 November and I analyse the political impact in a separate post on the final boundaries. The draft boundaries post below includes a broader discussion of the legal basis of drawing South Australian boundaries.)

Last Friday saw the much anticipated release of draft state electoral boundaries for South Australia.

I say anticipated because the redistribution was the first held since the Weatherill Labor government repealed the state’s electoral fairness provision in late 2017. The repeal was the government’s last legislative measure before losing office.

Would the new boundaries be drawn with no attention paid to fairness, undermining the Liberal government’s electoral position and paving the way for a Labor victory at the 2022 election? Once released, it became clear the short answer was no, the long answer more complex and well worth a blog post..

Without an overriding fairness provision, the Electoral Districts Boundaries Commission did not repeat its exercise of four years ago in drawing boundaries that sacrificed the principle (though not legal definition) of enrolment equality in favour of electoral fairness.

Against Labor’s hopes, the Commission did not entirely abandon fairness arguments. But it could no longer use fairness to dismiss other criteria set down in the Constitution for drawing electoral boundaries .

In summary, the new boundaries retain the existing two-party division of the House of Assembly where, not including elected Independents, there are 27 underlying Liberal electorates to 20 for Labor.

However, on the new boundaries, the Liberal Party has more marginal seats and the uniform swing to lose office is reduced. The big loser of the redistribution is Independent MP Geoff Brock, whose regional seat of Frome has been dismembered to solve enrolment shortfalls in country districts.Read More »2020 South Australian Redistribution – Release of Draft Boundaries