(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I say anticipated because the redistribution was the first held since the Weatherill Labor government repealed the state’s electoral fairness provision in late 2017.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