Will the AEC Sink Kylea Tink?

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has published its draft redrawn electoral boundaries for the next federal election. The AEC reviews the boundaries of electorates and decides on the abolition or creation of a new electorate in the pursuit of ensuring the number of enrolled voters represented by each member of parliament is roughly equal.

There are three factors that can trigger the redistribution of seats in a particular state, including that a redistribution must take place at least once every seven years. This cycle of electoral redistributions is limited to New South Wales, Northern Territory, Victoria and Western Australia.

The boundaries of several seats have been changed dramatically. While Western Australia will gain a seat (to be called Bullwinkel), both Victoria and New South Wales are set to lose a seat – reducing the overall number of federal electorates to 150. These changes stand in stark contrast to the outcome of the 2020 electoral distribution, when the size of the House of Representatives increased from 150 to 151 seats; and the WA electorate of Stirling abolished, and the creation of the Victorian electorate of Hawke.

As per the draft redistribution, the Labor-held Victorian seat of Higgins, held by Michelle Ananda-Rajah, is set to be abolished, alongside the ‘teal’ independent seat of North Sydney, held by Kylea Tink, in NSW.

According to the ABC’s chief election analyst Antony Green, the new WA seat of Bullwinkel would likely be marginal Labor. Due to the changing of borders around Bullwinkel, the seat of Hasluck, held by Tania Lawrence, is made safer for Labor and the seat of Canning, held by Andrew Hastie, made more marginal for the Liberal Party.

Under this redistribution, Victorian Labor’s first-term Ananda-Rajah, is facing a forced early exit from politics. Ananda-Rajah will either need to contest a different lower house seat, or find a place on Labor’s Senate ticket. Notably, Higgins was set to be a rematch between former member Katie Allen (who won the Liberal Party’s nomination in November of last year). Allen too will need to seek a different seat if she aspires to re-enter the parliament. The knock-on effect from the loss of this seat will also weaken the boundaries of Chisholm, Bruce and Hotham for the Labor Party. Menzies has also notionally flipped from a marginal Liberal seat to a Labor seat with a 0.4% margin.

 Image Credit: Michelle Ananda-Rajah MP (ABC News: Nicholas Haggarty)

In NSW, due to slow population growth, independent member Kylea Tink is set to have her seat of North Sydney sunk by the AEC. The seat of North Sydney was once a safe Liberal seat but was won by the Teal in 2022. Tink says she will be making a submission to the AEC to argue that her electorate should not be abolished. It has already been floated that Tink may contest the neighboring Liberal seat of Bradfield, held by Paul Fletcher MP, rather than challenge fellow independent MP Zali Steggall in the seat of Warringah. Additionally, Shadow Treasurer Angus Taylor faces significant changes to his boundaries with the removal of Goulburn from his seat of Hume (the location of his principal electorate office).

The AEC will hold another two rounds of public submissions in each state. The final redistribution is likely to take a few more months. 

22 May 2024 | Authored by Connor Andreatidis, Consultant, and Sarah Coward, Principal Consultant, Precision Public Affairs

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