Boundary change fears

31 Jul, 2015 02:00 AM
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They have done something really bizarre here.

POLITICAL representation in regional areas could suffer if proposed electoral boundaries go ahead according to two Members of Parliament.

Under the proposed WA Electoral Commission changes for the 2017 State election, the configuration of the three country regions; Agricultural, Mining and Pastoral and the South West could be affected, with the decision to reduce the number of districts from 17 to 16 due to the alteration of regional boundaries between the country regions.

Four of the districts - the Central Wheatbelt, Geraldton, Moore and Wagin - would be situated in the Agricultural Region, the same number as at present, but there would be some name changes within regions and districts.

The electorate of Eyre would disappear altogether and would be dispersed into Wagin (or Roe as it will be known if the changes go ahead), Central Wheatbelt and the Mining and Pastoral electorate of Kalgoorlie.

Member for Eyre Graham Jacobs said he is disappointed country representation has been reduced by the redistribution of the Eyre electoral boundaries and believes the proposed amendments will go ahead, with limited change.

He said the WA Electoral Commission proposal to cut the number of country electorates and expand the Mining and Pastoral electorate of Kalgoorlie would include a large area of the existing seat of Eyre.

"The biggest casualty is the constituency," he said.

"This is not about me, it's about the representation of those areas that I believe have significant synergies with Esperance.

"I have a commitment with the Esperance region, I also have a commitment to those people along the track associated with the Goldfields."

Mr Jacobs said he hadn't decided if he would sit for the new district of Roe, should the changes be made.

"I have not yet made a decision on that," he said.

"We will wait and see what the final boundaries are. I will talk to my family and my advisers and make a decision.

"I will continue to work for the electorate that I was elected to work for and let that look after itself in time.

"I am committed to Esperance, it's my home town.

"I came here with my parents in 1957, it will be very difficult for me to leave Esperance."

Mr Jacobs said the changes would not be to his disadvantage, but to the constituency.

"I think the best representation Esperance, Coolgardie, Norseman and the Yilgarn get is with the present composition, irrespective of Graham Jacobs," he said.

"For me, my career aside, it (the change) doesn't fit.

"I do believe that the current model is the best representation, and to do it the other way is disruptive and not a good fit.

"I don't believe you should cut off the eastern end of the Esperance Shire and put it into Kalgoorlie.

"They have done something really bizarre here."

Mr Jacobs said residents in the east of the Esperance shire will not go to the Kalgoorlie member, but would go to the Roe member instead.

"It will go ahead, let's be real," he said.

"They may make some small changes around the edges, but they won't change the basic concept."

Member for the Central Wheatbelt Mia Davies said the proposed changes will impact on the representation for regional WA.

She said should the proposal be accepted as is, the district of Central Wheatbelt will increase in land area by 57 per cent to become 97,669km.

"I am extraordinarily disappointed with the proposed boundary changes, not just from an electorate perspective but on a State-wide basis," Ms Davies said.

"The Nationals WA made a submission that would have allowed the Electoral Commissioners to meet the requirements of the Act that involved minimal change.

"Instead, the proposal is to abolish a country electorate and increase the remaining electorates to an unmanageable size."

Ms Davies said regional constituents had every right to be concerned as the changes would make it more difficult for them to have access to their local State representative.

"If the proposed changes are finalised the Central Wheatbelt will stretch from Northam to Southern Cross, Mukinbudin to Hyden and across to Darkan," she said.

"The area is characterised by a large number of small communities, each with their own unique challenges and opportunities.

"I encourage local governments, residents and businesses to look at the boundaries and make their views known to the WA Electoral Commission."

Ms Davies said no amount of technology or better travel options could compensate for the size of the proposed electorates, which had already been significantly increased in 2008 after the introduction of one-vote-one-value legislation.

The proposals to change the boundaries to "take a seat out of the country and put it into the city" was based on population, according to Agricultural Regions MP Darren West.

"The reason the Commission has done this is because so many people have left the country and moved to the city," Mr West said.

"I don't think the Nationals have been vigilant enough in that area to attract and retain people in the country, to keep the seats there.

"They have spent 83 per cent of Royalties for Regions money on city-based contractors.

"They have not done enough to retain people in the country.

"Government needs to change its policy settings to think of ways to encourage people to move or stay in the country, so our representation doesn't get watered down any further."

Mr West said that no one has anything to fear from the redistribution.

"Losing a representative from the regions to the city is in response to the population drift from the regions to the city," he said.

"This will continue if we don't change it."

Mr West said there was some concern by members that their electorate would be expanding, but he said it was only fair.

"Yes they may have geographical challenges," he said.

"But 250,000 people will be the same for each seat.

"It's no more people than any other region - every seat in Parliament should roughly represent the same number of people, and that's what the WA Electoral Commission has done."

The boundaries are not yet finalised and are open for public comment.

If you wish to write a public comment submission on the proposals, email your submission to boundaries@waec.wa.gov.au

Deliver your submission to Level 2, 111 St Georges Terrace, Perth or post it to GPO Box F316 PERTH WA 6841 or fax it to (08) 9214 0455.

Submissions close at 5pm on August 24, 2015.

For further information visit: http://www.boundaries.wa.gov.au/b oundaries/2015-proposed

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