MILDURA councillor Glenn Milne has slammed proposed boundary changes to the Mallee federal electorate, saying the redistribution system disadvantages regional communities like Mildura.
The Mallee federal electorate will grow by an extra 12,000 people and three local government areas (LGAs) under proposed boundary changes by the Redistribution Committee for Victoria.
Loddon Shire Council, Central Goldfields Shire Council and part of Pyrenees Shire Council are proposed to move into the Mallee electorate.
In a report, the redistribution committee noted the Mallee electorate was on target to have 99,874 projected electors by August next year – less than the minimum number permitted by the Electoral Act.
“The high population growth in Victoria together with the dispersed spread of electors has resulted in the redistribution committee proposing significant change to Victoria’s electoral division boundaries,” committee chair Tom Rogers said.
However, Cr Milne said the proposed changes would put pressure on Member for Mallee Andrew Broad due to the physical size of his electorate and the range of communities within it.
He said Mr Broad’s workload in representing 12 local government areas would be far more demanding than a Melbourne-based MP with only one.
“Nothing against Andrew Broad, but we need to recognise the pressure he’s under,” Cr Milne said.
“He’s got a huge job and I think we should be sticking our hand up, supporting him and saying ‘hey, is this actually fair on him and us?’.”
On Monday, Mr Broad said the proposed changes were necessary.
Cr Milne also feared rural population decline would only exacerbate the disadvantage for communities like Mildura, creating a metro bias that would ignore country communities.
“There just becomes this greater concentration of representation in the metro areas and, as populations grow, the numbers are just going to go up,” he said.
Cr Milne said he would make an objection to the Australian Electoral Commission with regards to the proposed boundary changes, and encouraged others who felt strongly about it to let their voices be heard.
“I think if we don’t do this, as citizens, then the system will continue to just steamroll over us in rural and regional Victoria,” he said.
The public has until May 5 to submit any objections to the proposals.
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