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Drum’s seat is at risk in restructure

by
January 08, 2018

Damian Drum is sworn into his new role by Australian Governor General Peter Cosgrove

’’IT REALLY doesn’t make any sense because one thing people need in relation to their electorates is communities of interest.’’

If the area was split up, Mr Drum feared some parts of the region would be connected to larger urban areas that did not share common ties.

“All of the major towns in the Murray electorate have a connection to each other and it is important that these connections can continue on a federal level,” he said.

“Recently we have seen several large Federal Government investments into local government areas, such as the new Murray River crossing in Echuca and funds to upgrade the Murray Valley Highway.

“It is important the Murray electorate continues on as it is, with only minor changes so I can continue with the job of representing its people.”

Sharman Stone, who held the seat for 20 years before Mr Drum, said it was disappointing a rural electorate was placed on the chopping block.

Ms Stone survived an attempt to abolish the seat in 2010 after strong backlash from people living in Murray.

“This keeps coming up because the population in rural areas is declining,” she said.

“It’s not a new idea and the whole issue is nothing but speculation until the AEC releases its recommendations.

“People will have a chance to have their say after the recommendations are released, as they did when it happened in my time.

“While disappointing, the removal of a rural electorate could mean the creation of a new one.

‘‘This will have to be considered when the recommendations are released.”

Peter Walsh, the Member for Murray Plains and Victorian leader of The Nationals, slammed the decision as “illogical” and one that “didn’t consider community interest.”

“Community interest is what the AEC will be looking at when it considers the redistribution,” he said.

“The Nationals’ submission maintains community interest and is a far better idea for the electorate going forward.

“The way the seat is structured now means there can be a focus on the important agricultural sector.

“If we split Murray up, that important focus would be dissipated.”

Committee for Echuca Moama chairman Martin Szakal said it was integral to the growth of our regions that more effort is made to redistribute population growth to areas outside the urban centres.

“There could be much more consideration made to assist in rebalancing the current imbalance of population growth,” he said.

“Given this is a state election year, it will be interesting to see what commitments will be made to support population redistribution including the relocation of government offices and other services into regional areas.”

The AEC routinely redistributes electorates as population changes and grows in certain areas.

Although the organisation accepts submissions, its decisions on redistributions are independent from government.

A proposed redistribution report is scheduled to be released in April.

The Liberal Party was contacted for comment but a response was not received.

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