Liberals seek to pit teals against each other in electoral boundary shift
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Teal independents Zali Steggall and Kylea Tink would be forced into a political battle of survival under a proposal from the Liberal Party that safeguards its own fortunes under an overhaul of NSW’s federal electoral boundaries.
The major parties have cast their opinions over the redrawing of Sydney’s seats as the Australian Electoral Commission accounts for population shifts to reduce the House of Representatives by one seat ahead of the next election.
Kylea Tink’s seat of North Sydney would absorb Zali Steggall’s Warringah electorate under the Liberal Party’s proposed boundary redrawing.Credit: Michael Quelch
The Liberal Party’s NSW branch called for the abolition of Warringah, the seat held by Steggall since she ousted former Liberal prime minister Tony Abbott in 2019, arguing it should be combined with the neighbouring seat of North Sydney, won by Tink from Liberal moderate Trent Zimmerman in 2022.
The party is also calling for the abolition of Blaxland, the western Sydney seat held by Education Minister Jason Clare on a 14 per cent margin, by absorbing it into Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke’s Watson seat, as well the creation of a new south-western Sydney seat of Bird Walton.
“Our suggestions are reasonable, with both Liberal and Labor parties having one of their traditional seats abolished,” NSW state Liberal Party director Chris Stone said in a statement.
Steggall, who increased her margin by 3.7 per cent in 2022’s election, disagreed: “It shows how little regard the Liberal Party has for the people of Warringah, their interests and needs.”
Low population growth across NSW means the state is to lose one of its 47 electorates, while one of Melbourne’s metropolitan electorates also must go.
Tink used her submission to the commission to argue North Sydney’s boundaries should be pushed north into the Liberal-held Bradfield, to take in Chatswood and the Willoughby council area. Part of the council already sits in North Sydney.
She said any suggestion to push North Sydney into Warringah made little sense as there was no community of interest between the two areas.
“Any proposal for moving Warringah west towards North Sydney would create a more significantly bifurcated electorate, split by Middle Harbour with three distinct zones which do not share cultural, sporting, community or issues links,” she said.
While the Liberal Party would get rid of Warringah, the Labor Party proposes extending the seat into the southern areas of the neighbouring seat of North Sydney. That includes moving the suburbs of North Sydney and Crows Nest into Warringah.
Labor argued the southern Sydney seat of Hughes, won by Liberal Jenny Ware at last year’s election, should be abolished with parts of it shared out to the neighbouring electorates of Cook, Cunningham, Banks and Fowler.
The eastern suburbs seat of Wentworth, which takes in some of the wealthiest voters in the country, has the fewest electors of any seat in the state.
Current independent member Allegra Spender and former member Malcolm Turnbull used submissions to argue the electorate should push west into Potts Point, Darlinghurst, East Sydney and Woolloomooloo. All of these areas, now in the seat of Sydney, were in Wentworth between 2006 and 2016.
Population in Sydney’s northern and eastern suburbs and in its inner west has either been stagnant or fallen over in recent years. But in a challenge to the electoral commission, the city’s west and south-west have grown strongly.
The state’s largest electorate by population is in Macarthur, taking in the southern suburbs of Campbelltown and the northern parts of Camden, with more than 140,000 people on the electoral roll.
The Greens propose axing the seats of Bradfield and Watson, with their voters moved into neighbouring electorates. The Greens also back the creation of a seat in the city’s south-west around Camden and Leppington.
The NSW National Party said Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s seat of Grayndler should be axed, along with the electorate of North Sydney.
Nationals state director Joe Lundy argued that half of Grayndler’s voters should be put into the seats of Reid and Sydney, adding that it was the “logical choice” to abolish the prime minister’s electorate.
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