Electorates have similarities

January 03, 2018

Excited: Federal Member for Murray Damian Drum.

Kellie Melville (Divisional Returing Officer - Division of McEwen) and Rob Mitchell (McEwen MP)

If things go a certain way, Seymour’s representative in federal parliament could shift from Rob Mitchell to Damian Drum.

The Australian Electoral Commission routinely redistributes electorates as population changes and grows in certain areas, and while the organisation accepts submissions, its decisions on redistributions are independent from government.

Victoria is in the middle of a redistribution because strong population growth will have the state entitled to one extra seat, from 37 to 38.

In a submission to the AEC, the Victorians Liberals recently called for the seat of Murray, won by Mr Drum for the Nationals last year, 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.

In contrast to the Liberals’ submission, Mr Drum said the Nationals had suggested handing over the area of Loddon Shire — which could then meld into the Mallee electorate — before moving further south to pick up Seymour and parts of Nagambie.

‘‘I’ve been through this a fair few times, and I think the number one objective of the electoral commission, if they can achieve it, is to keep the communities of interest aligned,’’ he said.

‘‘If you think about our submission, the communities of interest would be the Goulburn and/or Murray rivers. So Seymour is very much on the Goulburn, as is Nagambie ... There are a lot of already existing communities of interest, and I think it fits well.

‘‘I think Seymour relates very strongly to the Goulburn Valley, for example with their football and netball communities, they share that with the Goulburn Valley ... and there’s still a very strong agricultural area around Seymour.

‘‘If we have to alter the status quo, I think it’s the least disruptive option available.’’

In terms of possibly representing Seymour, Mr Drum said while he was nowhere near as familiar with the town as Shepparton, he admires the work of Member for Euroa Steph Ryan and has had quite a few conversations about ‘‘all things Seymour’’ with her. Adding to this, Mr Drum said he already represents parts of Nagambie, Avenel and Euroa, meaning he is well-acquainted with the general area.

‘‘I think it’s a fantastic town, and it would be an absolute honour if it fell that way,’’ he said.

Echoing the Mr Drum’s concerns with the Victorian Liberals’ submission, Member for McEwen Rob Mitchell said keeping the seat of Murray in the Goulburn Valley is a good idea.

‘‘That is what people know, that’s where they live ... what’s the point of changing electorates for 200000 people if they don’t need to, because it doesn’t bring any benefit,’’ he said.

Mr Mitchell also said if it must change electorates, Seymour would be a reasonably logical fit with the seat of Murray.

‘‘I don’t think it would be unfair to say that Seymour has a lot of similarities with places like Nagambie and Shepparton,’’ he said.

‘‘There is a core through the highway where people travel up and down — I know a lot of people in Seymour who travel to Shepparton to do their major shopping. And you’ve got that with Seymour Hospital and the relation it has with Shepparton.

‘‘So you can sit there and say there are some communities of interest there, whether it be education, health, employment, infrastructure — it’s not unreasonable to say that at all.’’

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