Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Local representation under threat

Regional political representation is at risk after a proposal to scrap either the NSW Murray-Darling or Murrumbidgee electorates, Conargo Shire Mayor Norm Brennan has said.

November 8, 2012 4:14am

Cr Norm Brennan.

The proposal to remove one of the two was tabled in NSW Parliament late last month, as recommended by the NSW Electoral Commission.

The perceived population drift away from the region to metropolitan areas has been listed as the deciding factor.

If adopted, the boundary redistribution would see the size of the local electorate increase significantly.

It would also have a noticeable impact on the level of local political representation, according to Cr Brennan.

‘‘I think (Member for Murray-Darling) John Williams is struggling now to get around the electorate, so making it bigger won’t have any positive impact,’’ he said.

‘‘We are very lucky John has an office (in Deniliquin), but I’m quite sure we wouldn’t get one if our region is covered by a city rep.

‘‘It’s a sad state of affairs and it is typical of government.’’

Mr Williams himself has also labelled the boundary redistribution proposal for the local area as ‘‘ridiculous’’.

He said it would see the electorate for this region expanded by at least 10 per cent.

Mr Williams also raised concerns it would impact on the level of representation and political attention received in regional NSW.

‘‘We are currently looking at projected population figures for the Murray-Darling, and there is a potential we will lose either the Murray-Darling or the Murrumbidgee electorate,’’ he said.

‘‘They will be merged into one, and so instead of the electorate covering 30 per cent of the state, it will cover more than 40 per cent.

‘‘What that will end up doing is we won’t see hardly any representation west of the Blue Mountains.’’

Mr Williams said the proposal has come from the NSW Electoral Commission, and so far seems to be supported by the government.

But he said he does not support the proposal to ‘‘chop up’’ more country electorates.

‘‘There always has to be 93 electorates, so what they do is knock one out of the country and add one in the city,’’ he said.

‘‘They look at this boundary change every second election, and there’s a whole heap being considered.

‘‘But what it means is that we’re getting into a situation where it only affects three politicians in the southern region — that’s not a lot of people to fight the change.’’

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