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Turning 16 WA seats into 15

June 20, 2020 - 12:47 -- Admin

Western Australia is on track to lose the sixteenth seat it gained at the 2016 election. This will trigger a redistribution before the next election, and will have knock-on effects across the state.

Only one of Western Australia’s 16 electorates has enough voters to still be above-quota once the seats are reduced to fifteen, and that one seat sits quite far above the quota.

Pearce now has almost 125,000 enrolled electors, while no other seat has more than 110,000. Pearce contains 31% more voters than Tangney.

After the fold I’ve included a map showing the population statistics in each existing WA electorate.

Electorates on the north side of the river tend to be less populous than those on the south side.

Perth, Stirling, Moore, Curtin and Cowan (all to the north of the river) are collectively 43% under quota.

The six southern electorates of Brand, Canning, Burt, Fremantle, Swan and Tangney are collectively 33% under quota, but most of that shortfall lies in Swan and Tangney, which are immediately south of the river. The other four seats are further south, and are less than 10% under quota.

Meanwhile Hasluck lies to the east, and straddles both sides of the city. Hasluck is 10% under quota.

When you add together the five northern seats, the inner south seats of Swan and Tangney and the eastern seat of Hasluck, those eight seats are 77% under quota.

It appears possible to mostly leave the four southernmost Perth seats alone, but the shortfall in the country may not make that possible. Forrest and O’Connor, the two southern rural seats, are collectively 13.3% under quota. Leaving the southern Perth seats intact would limit the options for bringing those seats up to quota by shifting parts of Durack into O’Connor.

If those seats are left alone, Swan and Tangney would need to take in parts of Hasluck, which would then have knock-on effects through northern Perth, with one of the northern suburbs seats abolished (I’ve seen suggestions that Stirling could go).

Alternatively, Forrest and O’Connor could shift closer to Perth, pushing up the southern Perth seats. A similar process would take place at the northern end of the city, with Durack taking in parts of Pearce and pushing the northern seats south.

In such a scenario, it may be Hasluck, the electorate which straddles the north and south of Perth, which could be abolished.

Whatever happens, big changes will be coming for Pearce. This seat is now 11.6% over quota, and will likely be projected to be even bigger. The electorate includes two urban centres on the northern fringe of Perth and a large rural hinterland. The map on my 2019 guide shows the clusters of booths in the Swan and Wanneroo council areas in the south-western corner of the seat. It seems likely that the northern end of Perth will need to be rearranged, with the northern beaches and Ellenbrook part of two different seats.

A decision about how to divide up Pearce will be closely connected to a decision about whether the southern Perth seats can be left alone.

A lot of the specifics will depend on the more precise population statistics which will be released when the redistribution commences. Each seat will be required to be within 10% of the average as of the time of the redistribution, and within 3.5% of the projected average in 3.5 years’ time.