Oz Blog News Commentary

NSW federal redistribution – official numbers published

September 28, 2023 - 10:00 -- Admin

Federal redistributions have recently commenced in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia.

The AEC yesterday published the enrolment data to be used to draw New South Wales federal electorates.

There are two sets of data – enrolment data as of August 2023, and projected enrolments as of April 2028. This data has been published at the level of SA1, but for this post I’m just looking at it at the electorate and regional level.

Electorates must be drawn within 10% of the average as of August 2023, but just 3.5% of the average as of April 2028. That latter number is thus more important, and there are some notable differences.

I’ve previously written about possible enrolment trends twice, but that was only based on current enrolments.

This next table groups electorates into nine regions, and shows how much each region falls short or exceeds the quota. So if a region currently has six electorates, but is projected to only have 5.2251 quotas, that is written as -77.49.

When you compare the two sets of numbers, you see that the projections are expected to increase Sydney’s population relative to regional NSW by about half a seat between now and early 2028.

That growth is entirely within the north-west and south-west of Sydney. Those areas collectively have about the right number of voters at the moment for their eleven seats (impressive considering NSW is losing one seat), but by April 2028 are projected to have 80% of an extra seat’s population.

The north coast and the Hunter regions are just slightly over quota. When you look at the map, most of that surplus is in Paterson, which is 11.7% over quota.

Western NSW is quite a long way under quota, but about a third of that can be sorted by taking in some extra voters from the Hunter.

In Sydney, there is a very stark difference between the east and west. The six electorates in northern Sydney, stretching as far west as Bennelong and Berowra, fall 78% of a seat short of a quota. I can’t see how they avoid abolishing one seat in this area.

In central and southern Sydney, these ten seats are also almost 80% of a seat short of a quota, so again I suspect a seat could be abolished in that area. The seat of Wentworth is more than 20% under quota, but it won’t be abolished because it fits neatly into its corner. It’s more likely a seat like Blaxland would be abolished, as the deficits of all the seat further east accumulate.

But NSW only needs to lose one seat! So this frees up one seat to be created somewhere else, and the obvious choice would be straddling the north-west and south-west. Just two seats in the south-west (Macarthur and Werriwa) are projected to have more than 2.5 seats worth of enrolment by April 2028.

There’s also about a half quota of surplus enrolment projected to join Lindsay, Greenway, Chifley and Mitchell between them. Plus if the northern suburbs lose one seat, they’ll have about 1/5th of surplus voters to be added to Mitchell or Parramatta.

Antony Green pointed out on my podcast, and again in his excellent blog post from yesterday, that it’s likely that this will force the commissioners to draw a seat crossing Windsor Road, which currently separates Mitchell from Greenway, and is usually a strong electoral boundary.

Once they have sorted out all the internal changes within Sydney, losing one electorate, Sydney will collectively have about one quarter of a seat of surplus population. Meanwhile there will be about a quarter of a seat’s deficit in western NSW electorates.

The easiest way to resolve this imbalance is through the seat of Hume, which has a bizarre set of boundaries which include Goulburn and the Wollondilly and Camden areas, but skip over much of the Southern Highlands in between. Shifting Hume further into Sydney would resolve that imbalance.

That’s it for now. If you want to see the quotas for each seat, check out the map below. Antony’s blog post also has some nice maps with the same data.