Restructure could have Drum beat

January 17, 2018

Federal Member for Murray Damian Drum is concerned communities along the Murray River will lose their connection if proposed electorate boundary restructuring is adopted.

The Federal Murray electorate and subsequently Damian Drum’s political seat is under threat with proposed restructure changes to federal electorate boundaries.

In a submission to the Australian Electoral Commission, the Victorian Liberals have made the unusual move of calling for the coalition seat to be abolished.
If the submission was adopted, the area in the existing Murray electorate would be split with the regional electorates of Mallee, Indi, McEwen and Bendigo.
The Liberals’ plan would see also see the electorate of McEwen extended northwards to include Shepparton.
Indi would lose towns such as Eildon and Yea with its south-eastern fringe ending at Benalla but it would gain Moira Shire which covers the Murray River from near Echuca to Yarrawonga.
Yarrawonga and Bundalong were originally part of Indi but with redistributions due to population changes were moved to the Murray electorate.
Tungamah has remained as part of the Indi electorate and Member for Indi Cathy McGowan has acknowledged there had already been a push previously by Moira Shire to have its Tungamah district part of Murray instead of Indi.
If the area was split up, Mr Drum feared some parts of the region would be connected to larger urban areas that did not share common ties.
“All of the major towns in the Murray electorate have a connection to each other and it is important that these connections can continue on a federal level,” he said.
“Recently we have seen several large Federal Government investments into local government areas, such as the new Murray River crossing in Echuca and funds to upgrade the Murray Valley Highway.
“It is important the Murray electorate continues on as it is, with only minor changes so I can continue with the job of representing its people.”
Sharman Stone, who held the seat for 20 years before Mr Drum, said it was disappointing a rural electorate was placed on the chopping block.
Ms Stone survived an attempt to abolish the seat in 2010 after strong backlash from people living in Murray.
“This keeps coming up because the population in rural areas is declining,” she said.
“It’s not a new idea and the whole issue is nothing but speculation until the AEC releases its recommendations.
“People will have a chance to have their say after the recommendations are released, as they did when it happened in my time.
“While disappointing, the removal of a rural electorate could mean the creation of a new one.
‘‘This will have to be considered when the recommendations are released.”
Peter Walsh, the Member for Murray Plains and Victorian leader of The Nationals, slammed the decision as “illogical” and one that “didn’t consider community interest.”
“Community interest is what the AEC will be looking at when it considers the redistribution,” he said.
“The Nationals’ submission maintains community interest and is a far better idea for the electorate going forward.
“The way the seat is structured now means there can be a focus on the important agricultural sector.
“If we split Murray up, that important focus would be dissipated.”
The AEC routinely redistributes electorates as population changes and grows in certain areas.
Although the organisation accepts submissions, its decisions on redistributions are independent from government.
A proposed redistribution report is scheduled to be released in April.

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