Redistribution of parliament’s seats could threaten Government

The Australian Electoral Commission has announced South Australia will lose one seat, while Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory will gain one each.


That could pose a threat to a federal cabinet minister and even the whole Coalition Government.

The nation’s political representation is set for a shake-up, with seats across several states and territories soon to change to better represent the country’s population shifts.

The Australian Electoral Commission, which determines the number of seats, has decided Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory will each gain one seat.

South Australia, however, will lose a federal MP, bringing the total number of lower-house electorates to 151.

Electoral commissioner Tom Rogers says the public will have a chance to make suggestions first and raise any concerns they may have.

The Greens, currently in a power-sharing agreement with Labor in the ACT, are already looking at how the move could benefit them long-term.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale says reviews of the electorates are a regular and necessary occurrence.

“As the population grows, we need to continue to look at boundaries and redefine those. What we want to see is a redistribution that gives people that level of representation. And, as far as the Greens are concerned, we’ll be putting our best foot forward to try and ensure that people have an opportunity to see a Greens member of the lower house in the ACT elected.”

A redistribution of electoral boundaries is already underway in Queensland and Tasmania, but no change to the number of those seats is happening.

The new Victorian seat is expected to be in Melbourne’s north-west and would most likely go to Labor.

It is unclear who would win the newly created ACT seat, with the Liberals making strong gains in elections in recent years.

Victorian Labor MP Catherine King has told the ABC the changes could make for an interesting election.

“These boundary changes, they do change seats and change voting patterns, I guess, so I don’t know. At the end of the day, it’s really in the Australian Electoral Commission’s hands, and you go out there and try and convince people on the basis of your policies to vote for you.”

The redistribution is potentially bad news for the Turnbull Government, already holding onto power with just a one-seat majority.

There is speculation the Prime Minister might call an election in late 2018 before the changes are finalised.

There is likely to be months of lobbying and submissions, including from political parties themselves, before the final boundaries are settled.

The Liberal-held seats of Grey and Barker in South Australia are expected to merge to form an area covering 98 per cent of the state’s landmass.

The move could also affect Defence Industries Minister Christopher Pyne, who holds the seat of Sturt in Adelaide’s outer eastern suburbs.

He could face more Labor voters, but he has told the Nine Network he is not worried about his position.

“I’ve been through three redistributions that I can remember. There’s no more, or greater, reason, or less reason, why my seat would be abolished. Eventually, there will be a 12-month process. I’ll be living in the seat somewhere in the eastern suburbs of Adelaide. I’ll be standing for that seat. That’s where my party membership is. That’s where my electors are. I will definitely have a seat. The reality is, what it will end up looking like is a matter for the Electoral Commission.”

South Australian Nick Xenophon Team MP Rebekha Sharkie has expressed disappointment at the reshuffle, though.

She says it is a sign of her state’s diminishing national presence.