Boundary change a problem

NEW TERRITORY: Member for Charlton, Pat Conroy, is predicting the region’s electoral boundary changes will mean trouble for constituents. Picture: Andrew Meares
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THE western side of Lake Macquarie will be split into two federal seats under radical changes to the Hunter’s electoral boundaries announced on Thursday.

Despite opposition from both major parties, the Australian Electoral Commission pushed ahead with all of the proposed changes to the region’s electoral map that it revealed in October.

The changes will see the existing electorate of Charlton renamed Hunter, and gain 52,020electors from Cessnock, Singleton and Muswellbrook.

Some 17,669electors from Charlton would, however, be transferred to the electorate of Shortland from areas such as Speers Point, Boolaroo and Cardiff.

The new Hunter electorate boundary will extend south to about the Wyong Shire local government boundary.

The changes will also see Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon’s existing seat of Hunter deleted, effectively leaving him without a seat to represent.

The changes clearly pose problems for the region’s Labor MPs.

But Member for Charlton, Pat Conroy, said the changes would pose “massiveproblems” for constituents, too.

Speaking to the Lakes Mail last year, when the re-drawing of boundaries was first floated, Mr Conroy said the changes made little sense.

“It will basically break up communities of interest that we have in Charlton and combine parts of our electorate with part of the Hunter Valley that we have nothing in common with,” Mr Conroy said.

JILL HALL

“People in Rathmines, Wangi, Dora Creek or Morisset have a lot more in common with people in Toronto then they do with people in Tumbi Umbi or Wamberal.”

Communities with vastly different interests would be represented by the same federal member under the changes, Mr Conroy said.

The boundary changes are likely to have personal implications for Mr Conroy and his Labor colleagues Jill Hall (Shortland) and Mr Fitzgibbon, as three MPs won’t fit into two seats.The Newcastle Herald reported Mr Fitzgibbon’s preference is to move into the new seat of Hunter, which now encompasses his base in Cessnock.

JOEL FITZGIBBON

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