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  NSW electoral distribution under the microscope
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Last EditedUser 215  Dec 19, 2003 01:12am
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MediaTV News - Australian Broadcasting Corporation News
News DateFriday, December 19, 2003 06:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionElectoral games are afoot in New South Wales as both sides of politics try to gain from the current electoral redistribution. ABC election analyst Antony Green runs his eyes over the tactics both sides are employing.

Apart from elections, no event focuses the minds of political parties and politicians more than electoral redistributions.

Small shifts in electoral boundaries can have dramatic effects on the carefully nurtured majority of a sitting MP. New boundaries can remove voters an MP has devoted time and money introducing themselves to, replaced by new constituents previously unexposed to their political charms.

Despite the process being designed to be above partisan politics, both Labor and the Coalition see redistributions as an opportunity to engineer a bit of electoral advantage. You won’t see politics mentioned in the submission of either side, but if you look beneath the community of interest arguments put forward to support both submissions, it is not hard to see the real game is about obtaining political advantage.

The independent body set up to draw the new boundaries is the Electoral Districts Commission. The current review is chaired by retired judge the Honourable Jerrold Cripps QC and by statute the commission also includes the NSW Electoral Commissioner John Wasson, and the State's surveyor-general Warwick Watkins.

The overriding task of the commissioners is to ensure equality of enrolment between electorates. Enrolment in all new electorates must be within a 10 per cent of the state average. A second tighter restriction also applies to projected enrolments. Boundaries must be drawn so that at the time of the next election, all new electorates will have predicted enrolment within 3 per cent of the average.
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