PORT Augusta will be split between two electorates, under a draft redistribution of SA electoral boundaries released by the Electoral Districts Boundaries Commission this morning.
The Western side of Port Augusta will land in the seat of Giles, while the Eastern tract will land in the seat of Stuart.
The EDBC's report contains plans of the proposed electoral districts to be contested at the next state election and details the Commission's reasons for proposing that the electoral districts be altered in the manner shown in the 47 maps included in the draft report.
EDBC secreatary David Gully said the Commission was faced with declining population in regional districts, and with a number being outside of the allowable tolerance was compelled to address the mandatory Constitution Act obligation that each district must comprise a number of electors within 10 per cent of the electoral quota.
"This has resulted in significant proposed changes to the districts in the west and north of the State, including the dividing of Port Augusta between the districts of Giles and Stuart with resultant cascading boundary changes needed to expand districts further to the south and the east," he said.
Today's report stated that previous commissions had documented the extent of the problem of the unique geographical features of the state which makde 52 redistributions in the regional electorates particularly complex.
"That complexity is added to by the fact that most of the population is concentrated in a very few regional towns, being Port Lincoln, Whyalla, Port Augusta and Port Pirie," the report stated.
"In the north-west of the State the requirements of section 83(2)(a) to have regard to communities of interest has, in the case of Port Augusta, had to give way to the primacy of the requirements in section 77.
"This has meant that the Commission sees no alternative but to split the township of Port Augusta into the two electoral districts of Giles and Stuart.
"The suggestion to simply amalgamate the regional districts into three districts is not as simple as it seems. There is always a cascading effect of moving numbers around which effect all of the other districts.
"In any event the members for Flinders, Giles and Stuart already have to travel vast distances to support their electorate."
The draft proposal follows a regional hearing conducted by the EDBC in Port Augusta on June 24, where several parties voiced their disapproval of any shift to split Port Augusta into two electorates.
Member for Frome Geoff Brock said it was not an appropriate time to be making wholesale changes to electoral boundaries, due to the uncertain economic and social climate caused by COVID-19.
Port Augusta City Council chief executive officer John Banks made it clear that dividing Port Augusta into two electorates was not in the best interests of the city, while Member for Stuart Dan van Holst Pellekaan said the idea of splitting any regional centres between electorates was a bad one.
Written submissions about the draft order are being invited by the EDBC within one month.
The Commission will then consider all submissions and may hear and consider any evidence or argument relating to any or all of those submissions.
The draft report, maps of the 47 electoral districts and appendices, details of the Commission's proceedings are all available on the Commission's website at edbc.sa.gov.au.
MORE TO COME...
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