PROPOSALS to split Port Augusta between the Giles and Stuart electoral districts, or combine it with either Whyalla or Port Pirie into one new district, were met with opposition at an Electoral District Boundaries Commission public hearing, held in Port Augusta last week.
SA's 47 electoral districts are examined every four years in order to maintain an even distribution of voters, ensuring the party with the most votes at a state election can form government.
With the commission required to ensure the number of electors in each district does not vary from the electoral quota by more than 10 per cent, stagnant and declining populations in Giles, Flinders and Stuart mean significant boundary shifts are required to make them compliant.
But proposals to make these districts compliant could have major impacts on the boundaries of Giles, Stuart and Frome and could lead to less regional representation in state parliament, according to Member for Frome Geoff Brock and Member for Stuart Dan van Holst Pellekaan.
Mr Brock acknowledged the commission had a difficult task in adhering to the 10pc tolerance, but said he would like to see boundaries remain as they were.
A number of infrastructure projects with the potential to boost populations in the Upper Spencer Gulf were among the reasons put forward by Mr Brock when arguing boundaries should not be shifted and the number of MPs in the USG not reduced from three to two.
"I think it shows disrespect to the three USG cities to even have those proposals considered," he said.
"The three USG cities deserve to have their own representation. To have three current representatives in the state parliament for three provincial cities in the USG provides important strategic direction for the state."
Mr Brock said it was important that constituents could see their local MP in a face-to-face setting and proposals to reduce representation would make that more difficult for people in Giles and Stuart - electorates which are more than 100,000 square kilometres in size.
Mr Brock was supportive of the Constitution (Permissible Tolerance) Amendment Bill 2020, introduced by Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell.
The bill would increase SA's electoral quota permissable tolerance from 10pc to 12pc, with the aim of ensuring the state's regions were properly represented.
"If we're going on population, regional areas will get less and less people representing regional SA in state parliament," Mr Brock said.
"We could potentially see decisions for regional SA made by metropolitan members of parliament."
Mr van Holst Pellekaan said splitting Port Augusta between two different electorates was undesirable, as was putting two regional centres in one electorate.
He said the representation of Whyalla, Port Augusta and Port Pirie would be devalued, and only having two MPs serving those regions would devalue the voices of people in the USG.
"This isn't about what's best for MPs, but what's best for constituents," he said.
Port Augusta City Council chief executive officer John Banks said the proposals would have detrimental effects on the electoral representation of the Port Augusta community.
Mr Banks said with the community in a transitional phase after the closing of the power station, and more of the workforce in corrections and community services, it was in need of strong electoral representation.
He said while Port Augusta could work collaboratively with Port Pirie and Whyalla when required, the significant distance between centres meant they needed to operate in an individual way.
Population projections for Port Augusta were imprecise, according to Mr Banks, who said the commission needed to take into account impending population growth stemming from renewable energy projects and duplication of the Joy Baluch AM bridge.
EDBC commissioner David Gully said there were no more regional hearings planned, with the commission to review all proposals and submissions during July and August before releasing a draft order of proposed boundaries on August 15.
Further written submissions will be considered and final hearings conducted in September, before any boundary changes are finalised in November.
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