Formal submission to oppose proposed Federal Electorate redistribution
May 3, 2018
Thousands of Colac Otway Shire residents will stay in the Federal electorate of Corangamite under a formal submission ratified at yesterday’s Special Council Meeting.
An Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) Redistribution Committee proposal to split the Shire’s population into an expanded Wannon electorate and new Cox electorate has been met with strong objection from Councillors.
Yesterday, Council voted to make a submission against the proposed abolition of the ‘Corangamite’ name and against the redrawing of boundaries that would see Colac and district fall into Wannon which extends to the South Australian border.
It would also see the southern part of the Shire and some of its eastern flank retained in the Seat of Cox, which would replace the ‘Corangamite’ name despite it being a Federation Seat steeped in history.
As part of its submission against the proposed redistribution, the Council has put up an alternative that would see areas north of the Hamilton Highway join Wannon and Corangamite extend east to include the Bellarine.
Mayor Joe McCracken said the Council’s proposal made more sense, still allowed for the desired number of electors in each of the Seats and protected the Council’s strategic alliances.
“Our Council and the communities have strong, undeniable relationships with the Geelong area and almost no tangible relationship with the Wannon electorate to our west,” he said.
“It is our view that splitting Colac Otway Shire across two diverse and contrasting electorates would introduce unnecessary complexities in terms of our work to advocate for the prosperity of our communities.
“All our government services, including important areas such as health and education are linked to Geelong.”
Cr McCracken said the duplication of the Princes Highway between Colac and Geelong further strengthened the Council’s connectivity with the Geelong region.
“A second electoral office has been opened in Colac for the Member for Corangamite, which provides our communities with wonderful access. Imagine if, as proposed, Colac was in the south-eastern corner of Wannon – a 36,000 square kilometre electorate with its headquarters in Hamilton,” he said.
“Their proposal makes no strategic sense for us. We understand the requirement for each Seat to have between 106,509 and 114,235 electors and we’ve come up with a redistribution that makes far more sense.”
Under the Council’s proposal, Bannockburn and the Golden Plains Shire as far up as Linton would be transferred from Corangamite to Wannon.
“With the Hamilton Highway in that region there is a clear and strategic connection with Wannon for these communities,” he said.
“Our proposal is to use the Hamilton Highway as the northern boundary of Corangamite and to gain back some electors in the Bellarine, which is an area that has much in common with the Great Ocean Road region,” he said.
“A public meeting on April 19 showed overwhelming support for our proposal and it’s fair to say significant opposition to splitting Colac Otway Shire as proposed by the Redistribution Committee.
“Council voted to seek that the AEC convene a Public Hearing in Colac prior to determining a decision to give the community the opportunity to demonstrate their opposition to the boundary changes.”
Following yesterday’s Council decision to formally oppose the redistribution and offer an alternative, officers will lodge a submission detailing its position by 6pm tomorrow when submissions close.