Electoral reform

The proposed sweeping changes to the State’s electoral boundaries are likely to significantly impact many sitting MPs and their communities.
After representing their districts for at least a four–year term, the changes proposed by the Electoral Districts Boundaries Commission would force politicians to come to grips with an entirely new array of community needs and to understand the issues facing their new districts.
Some changes, like the proposed reform of the Morialta and Newland boundaries, seem appropriate. Those changes would see the two electorates become almost completely metropolitan seats, rather than the current metropolitan–rural split.
But one major change – shifting Mt Barker from Kavel into the Hammond electorate – would result in a significant demographic change for Hammond MP Adrian Pederick.
Mr Pederick has spent the last 14 years representing farming communities across the Murraylands and Mallee – including towns such as Murray Bridge, Tailem Bend, Karoonda and Pinnaroo.
These are smaller communities with vastly different issues to Mt Barker, which is well on track to becoming SA’s second largest city.
Mr Pederick would need to rapidly get up to speed with the multitude of issues brought about by widespread residential development – including vast infrastructure needs.
Currently presiding over an expansive rural region with little largescale development, he has had limited exposure to such needs in his parliamentary career.
The boundary changes are the result of declining rural populations and increasing populations in peri-urban centres.
But perhaps more effort should be made to fit similar neighboring communities into the same electorates, rather than simply moving a boundary around a town so the electorate meets its voter quota.
Mt Barker would appear to be better suited to a Hills electorate rather than being attached to a Murraylands area purely to bring the electorate up to its required population.
With the changes yet to be set in stone, now is the right time to consider these factors and ensure the boundary changes not only provide fair elector distribution, but also guarantee all regions are appropriately and effectively represented.

For the full report, see the print issue of The Courier.