Electoral Matters Committee - Faults with Electorate redistributions


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (12:38): I was curious to hear the senator who tabled the report indicate that we were taking away the need to identify oneself to be enrolled. I have not read the report but I will read that with some interest to see what justification there could possibly be for that.

Briefly, I wanted to thank the AEC both here in Canberra and in Brisbane for their courtesy in making time to talk to me about the way electoral boundaries are drawn. I have had a particular concern about the way that the boundaries are drawn in my state of Queensland, particularly in the north. In the electorate of Herbert, which is based on Townsville, a city of 200,000 peoplewhich is very vibrant and is going aheadone of the almost inner-city suburbs is now part of the electorate of Dawson, which is based on the city of Mackay, some 400 kilometres south.

I know these sorts of things happen, but it is ridiculous that people who live in the suburb of Annandale in Townsville, not a couple of kilometres away from the electorate office of the federal member for Herbert, Ewen Jonesan excellent, active, energetic and caring representativeactually do not go to Ewen Jones for assistance in the city of Townsville; they go to Mackay, some 400 kilometres south. I know you have to get the numbers right but it does seem stupid.

It is even more silly when you look at the seat of Dawson, which is based on Mackay and goes right up through the Whitsundays, Bowen, Ayr and Home Hill, where I live, and into the inner suburbs of Townsville. It is well represented now by Mr George Christensen. He is another very energetic, able and caring member who gets around the whole electorate. He has to do all of that. Pioneer Valley, which is five kilometres behind Mackayand the community of interest between Pioneer Valley and Mackay is very oldis not in his electorate. That is in the electorate of Capricornia, based on Rockhampton, which is 300 kilometres to the south. Again, five kilometres from George Christensen's office there is a part of the Mackay community that he does not represent. If that community want some assistance in federal matters they either come to me as a senator based in the general vicinityand many of them door they go to Kirsten Livermore who is the Labor member for the seat of Capricornia. She is a nice enough lady but is not very active in what she does, I must say. That is why a lot of people from her electorate come to methey do not seem to get much assistance from the sitting member.

Again, it is a silly situation wherein she has to travel 300 kilometres through Mackay and then up the Pioneer Valley. It is compounded when looking at the town of Gracemere, which is part of the Rock_hampton area. It is about 10 kilometres from Kirsten Livermore's electorate office but it is not in the electorate of Capricornia; it is in the electorate of Flynnwell represented by Mr Ken O'Dowd, a very active, able and caring member. That is about 110 kilometres from his office. It is compounded further by Flynn now taking in that part of Bundaberg, another substantial regional city, which isdo not hold me to thisabout 200 kilometres south of Gladstone. Mr O'Dowd looks after that whereas the member for Hinkler, Mr Nevilleanother very active, caring and able memberlives in the Bundaberg area but half of the major town of Bundaberg is in the electorate of Flynn based, on Gladstone.

When you go further south, the electorate represented by Mr Warren Truss used to very capably contain Hervey Bay, which Mr Truss lives quite close to, but that is now represented by Mr Neville. Mr Truss's seat now takes in the northern sunshine tourist mecca of Noosa. That is very well represented by Mr Truss, but one wonders what the community of interest is.

I know these things are difficult, and I have raised this issue with the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters and another committee and I have also raised it at estimates. I thank the AEC for explaining it to me and going through the figures with me, particularly the CEO of the AEC in Queensland. I spent some time with her. She is getting me some figures. I understand the difficulties, but anyone listening to this might be able to understand that it is unfortunate when parts of communities so close to substantial regional cities in Queensland are represented by someone who quite a way south. So I thank the AEC for explaining it to me. I know it is not their fault as such, but we really have to look at something where you can get communities of interest in situations like that which now applies in those seats up along the Queensland coast. Of course, the boundaries did not make much difference to the result. It was a fabulous result for the LNP in Queensland. All of those seats, with the exception of Capricornia, went to LNP candidates, and in Capricornia there was an eight per cent swing against the sitting member by the LNP candidate Michelle Landry, who conducted a magnificent campaign. I am not complaining that the boundaries had any particular significance, but it is just unfortunate for people in those localities to find that their local member of parliament is 200, 300 or 400 kilometres away

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