Published by The Border Watch
By Raquel Mustillo
MacKillop expansion on cards as state party proposes revision of electorate borders in lead up to 2022 vote.
TARPEENA, Mingbool and Pleasant Park would no longer be in the Mount Gambier electorate and would instead vote for the Member for MacKillop at the 2022 election under the State Liberal Party’s proposed redraw of boundaries.
The Liberal Party has flagged minor surgery of both electorates to shift almost 400 voters from Mount Gambier to boost numbers in MacKillop due to lagging population growth comparative to other state seats.
If the Liberals’ suggestions are adopted, MacKillop would take in a portion of Grant District Council and span seven council districts, containing Wattle Range, Naracoorte Lucindale, Kingston, Robe, Tatiara and Coorong.
Wandilo, Mil Lel and Worrolong would remain in the Mount Gambier electorate.
Following every state election, the independent Electoral Districts Boundary Commission is tasked to examine the 47 House of Assembly seats to ensure the number of electors is approximately the same, with a variation of 10pc either way.
Despite being the state’s fourth largest electorate geographically, MacKillop currently has 23,686 total voters - just under the permissible quota by .1pc and therefore must have a boundary adjustment.
Liberal MP Nick McBride said he was happy with the proposal after initially having reservations about the expansion into Grant District Council area.
“I would welcome Tarpeena to the electorate of MacKillop, it is an area I have worked with in regards to Timberlink and I would be happy to take it up,” he said.
“However, it has been another council area added to MacKillop when I already have six.”
In its submission, the Liberal Party suggests moving the southern boundary of MacKillop to take in a pocket of the Mount Gambier electorate north of the city, as well as extending to include a pocket near the Murray Mouth at MacKillop’s northern boundary with Hammond.
“I would have preferred to take on more of Hammond in the north as the Coorong District Council is already in the electorate of MacKillop, but it is not a concern,” Mr McBride said.
“But I recognise if the electorate was extended further north, Hammond and Chaffey would have been impacted.”
Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell said the expansion of the MacKillop boundary was logical as the communities shared economic, social and geographic similarities.
“A number of people who work in Tarpeena live in Mount Gambier and those who live in Tarpeena I am sure will still come to Mount Gambier for their services,” he said.
“I am more than happy to keep supporting all of our Limestone Coast residents, whether they are inside or outside my electorate.”
Grant District chief executive Darryl Whicker said the council enjoyed an excellent relationship with Mount Gambier MP Troy Bell and would welcome a stronger relationship with Member for MacKillop Nick McBride.
“Irrespective of elector boundaries, councils will continue to work with relevant state and federal members and ministers to progress initiatives and advocate on critical issues in our townships and communities,” he said.
“As more is known, Troy Bell and council have committed to meeting with the Tarpeena Progress Association to talk through the impact of any boundary reform.”
The Liberals’ submission is one of eight written representations received on the electoral redistribution, with Canberra-based Dr Mark Mucair supporting the retention of Tarpeena, Mingbool and Pleasant Park within Mount Gambier and recommended MacKillop take electors from the south.
Dr Mucair said the logical gain would be for MacKillop to share Coorong District Council and include Tailem Bend.
Public hearings to consider evidence and arguments in support of submissions will be held in coming months, with the draft boundaries expected to be released on August 15.
Final written submissions and further hearings will be conducted in September and the boundaries will be finalised in November.