Today is the last day Member for Rodney Paul Weller can make his case against abolishing the Rodney electorate.By Jess Craig
Member for Rodney Paul Weller faces his last chance to save his embattled seat today.
Mr Weller will address the Victorian Electoral Boundaries Commission in Bendigo to make his case against a draft plan to abolish the Rodney electorate.
Mr Weller has based his counter argument against the draft proposal around the need for a strong voice for the people of Rodney in the Victorian parliament and the need to grow the electorate to the south as opposed to west towards Swan Hill.
He said it would take a strong argument to persuade the EBC to change its draft.
‘‘The EBC’s argument of a community of interest with Swan Hill does not stack up and will not be accepted by the people of Rodney,’’ Mr Weller said.
‘‘The towns and cities of Rodney have more in common with the Bendigo area and the electorate currently comprises 25 per cent of the City of Greater Bendigo, including the towns of Heathcote, Elmore and Redesdale.’’
Under the EBC’s proposal, most of Rodney would join an enlarged Swan Hill electorate, while Seymour and Benalla would consume southern and western reaches of Mr Weller’s seat.
Rodney is 1.12 per cent below the numbers needed for an acceptable number of voters, which equates to 330 people.
More than 80 objections to the proposed abolition of the electorate were received by the EBC during the submission period.
Mr Weller said abolishing Rodney and shifting the boundaries to the west towards Swan Hill did not make any sense in terms of agriculture, public transport or industry and believes ‘‘commonality’’ lies to the south.
‘‘The idea to expand Rodney to the south, to include Huntly, formed part of the Nationals’ submission to the commission in November,’’ he said.
‘‘The EBC believes that Huntly has a different community of interest because it is on the urban fringe of Bendigo.
‘‘But Huntly is essentially the same as Nathalia, Rochester, Tongala, Heathcote and Elmore and all services are surrounded by agricultural pursuits.
‘‘The EBC’s argument shows a lack of understanding of the makeup of the towns and cities within our rural and regional electorates and proves that unless you are living and working here, you don’t know what’s best for the constituents.’’
The EBC is expected to release final boundaries in early October.
Mr Weller said he had been overwhelmed with the support from within the electorate since the announcement of the draft proposal to abolish Rodney.
Committee for Echuca Moama chief executive Hayden Cock will also present a case against their abolition.
Mr Cock said there were number of ‘‘compelling reasons’’ why the seat should not be lost and forced to merge with the Swan Hill electorate.
C4EM has indicated it also supported a move to expand Rodney to include Huntly.
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