The seat in federal minister Christopher Pyne’s electorate in South Australia has narrowly avoided the chop by the AEC (Australian Electoral Commission) which has instead targeted the Labor-held Port Adelaide electorate.
The seat in Port Adelaide is being currently maintained by Labor’s Mark Butler who is also the spokesperson for climate change and energy on the frontbench of Bill Shorten. Mr Butler is right now campaigning to win a second term at the national president of the ALP.
Wakefield will be replaced by the electorate of Spence which is named after a female rights activists who campaigned for women’s suffrage in South Australia during the 1800s.
The fact that the 2016 election showed the South Australia’s population was growing the slowest in Australia is what foreshadowed the decision by the AEC. The AEC has provided its redistribution report which identified that Port Adelaide was the most appropriate seat to be removed.
In a statement, Mr Butler said he was “obviously disappointed in its proposal”, referring to the AEC. He said that the seat remains “entrenched in the local community” and that it has a “proud” as well as “long history”.
He said that he would continue by “looking at all my options” so he can continue serving the community as he waits for a “final decision by the commission”.
Senior sources within Labor suggest that this decision will prompt preselection for Labor’s South Australian branch as Mr Butler is forced to find a new seat to campaign for. There is speculation about Mr Butler moving into an adjacent seat but this would obviously spark opposition from MP’s already in those seats.
There has been time allowed to hear objection to the redistribution report prior to a final decision being reach later in 2018. Analysts have reported that they believe that this redistribution would make the surrounding Labor seats more secure in the next election.
As Victoria and the ACT redraw their boundaries they will be given extra seats and this will take the House of Representatives to 151 members. Not surprisingly, the big parties had each suggested that a seat from their opposition be chopped.
Labor argued that Mr Pyne’s seat of Sturt should be the one that is axed. Despite this the Coalition argued that the Adelaide electorate, held by Labor’s Kate Ellis, should be absorbed as part of a redrawing of boundaries.