Yass may move into ‘prime’ marginal electorate

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POLITICS: Yass could be moved into the bellwether electorate of Eden-Monaro if proposed boundary changes come into force.

Political analysts are speculating the influx of conservative Liberal and National voters could make the seat harder to win for Labor, quashing its marginal make-up and possibly ending a 43-year record as the seat that elects the government of the day.

Eden-Monaro has done so since 1972.

The Australian Electoral Office announced on Friday proposed boundary redistributions across the state, with our region’s Hume electorate losing Yass, Harden, Cootamundra, Young, Cowra, Grenfell and Weddin.

Peter Hendy MP

Peter Hendy MP

Hume would gain areas around Camden and retain Goulburn, Upper Lachlan and Boorowa.

Yass would move into Eden-Monaro, currently held by Liberal MP Peter Hendy.

The seat would not be renamed.

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Yass Valley mayor Rowena Abbey told Scoop the valley had a good working relationship with current federal MP Angus Taylor, and she would hope to establish a similar relationship with the new representative, should the proposal take effect.

“We’ve had a very good working relationship with our federal member Angus Taylor, who has managed to get the Barton Highway focussed on at a federal level, which is good,” she said.

She said perhaps the marginal nature of the seat of Eden-Monaro would be a positive development for Yass district residents.

“I’m guessing [the AEC] is doing it because they hope it may reduce its marginal process? I’ve always understood [Eden-Monaro] to be marginal, which may end up being a good thing for the future focus on the Yass Valley,” she said.

Residents in the valley are divided; with some excited at the prospect of joining a swinging seat which traditionally attracts a lot of funds and improvements. Some predict the new make-up will reduce Eden-Monaro’s ability to swing altogether, and yet others are keen to test the view that the Yass Valley doesn’t attract enough funding attention because it has long been a safe seat.

Resident Bec Duncan believed it would be a positive change. 

“This would be the quickest way to become a marginal seat and finally get the infrastructure and services the Yass Valley deserves; it has been taken for granted for too long.”

“Aside from the new dam, Yass has had no significant infrastructure or spending since the highway bypass 25 years ago. We are sick of being ignored by successive state and federal governments. This could be the best thing to happen to Yass in years!”

Tony Lawton said it would mean Eden-Monaro “would no longer be a bellwether seat if this change is made – look at the makeup of the new electorate”.

Ali Beresford said, “people have been complaining for years that since it’s a safe seat we get no money. Isn’t Eden-Monaro one of those… swinging seats? It’s had a lot of money chucked at it… so maybe this is the chance to see if it really is the safe seat stuff that’s been holding us back?”

Tony Curtis would like to see a bigger spend in the area regardless of who governs.

Hume already covers a 17,000km2 area of land containing 99,822 voters as at 2014, projected to rise to 107,976 by 2019.

The Eden-Monaro currently covers a 41,617km2 parcel of land, and the proposal puts the Yass Valley in the uppermost quadrant. Voter numbers in the seat are expected to rise to 107,383 by 2019.

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Hume MP Angus Taylor said he would be disappointed to lose Yass.

“Very disappointed to face losing the southern and western parts of Hume including Yass, Harden, Cootamundra, Young, Cowra and Weddin,” he said.

“I care deeply about this wonderful region, where I have many, many old and new friends.

“Regardless of the outcome, I will keep an interest in the range of issues that I have championed there including agricultural policy, phone/ NBN infrastructure, road/ rail investment and health services.”

He said was, however, excited at the opportunity to stand for a larger part of the “vibrant” and “fast-growing” Camden region.

“Fortunately, the Liberal Party has a very strong support base in this proposed new part of Hume.”

Objections to the proposed boundary changes can be lodged in written form, by visiting the AEC website.

View opinion columnist Tory Kelly-Clarke’s analysis here.

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