Part III: The final boundaries - Gippsland
- In Gippsland there were objections to the proposed boundaries around Morwell and Inverloch. As their consequences are interrelated, they are best treated together. The context of the redivision needs to be considered. On the current boundaries, Morwell and Gippsland South districts were below average and declining, Narracan was above average and growing slowly, and Bass was 27.53 per cent above average and growing explosively. The EBC’s proposed boundaries absorbed Bass’s growth by transferring Inverloch to Gippsland South and the Bunyip/Tynong area to Narracan, and increased Morwell’s enrolment by transferring Moe and Newborough from Narracan to Morwell while shedding outlying areas of Morwell to Narracan and Gippsland South. One aim was to improve community of interest by uniting the main towns of the Latrobe Valley in a single district.
- Objections about Morwell’s proposed boundaries were received from the National Party, the Yallourn North Action group, the Yinnar and District Community Association and several private citizens. The objectors argued that small outlying townships such as Yallourn North, Tyers, Glengarry, Boolarra and Yinnar looked to Morwell and Traralgon for their employment, education, recreation, commercial and community development activities, and that the proposed boundaries cut them off from their community of interest, as well as from ready access to their member of Parliament. The Nationals argued that Moe is cut off from towns to the east by the Haunted Hills and the Yallourn mine, and that Moe looks more to the west, towards Trafalgar, and so fits logically in Narracan district. The Nationals proposed a reversion to existing boundaries, except for transferring Rosedale, Gormandale and Mirboo North from Gippsland South to Morwell.
- Regarding Inverloch, the Liberal Party, the Hon Ken Smith MLA (Member for Bass) and three constituents objected to the transfer of the town from Bass to Gippsland South. They stated that Inverloch is a coastal town like other coastal towns of the Bass Coast, that it is part of Bass Coast Shire, and that it has much stronger links to the west in terms of transport, education, business and retail services than it does to the east. As a compensation for restoring Inverloch to Bass, the Liberal Party suggested returning the rural Nyora and Loch areas from Bass to Gippsland South.
- It should be pointed out that the towns discussed have not always been in their current districts. Yallourn North was in Narracan between 1985 and 2002; Boolarra was in Gippsland South between 1976 and 1985; and Inverloch was in Gippsland South between 1967 and 1985. Two writers noted that the Latrobe River was a clear boundary for the proposed Morwell district. However, the EBC acknowledges the merits of the objectors’ arguments. It is clear that the outlying townships of the Latrobe Valley have a strong community of interest with Morwell and Traralgon, and that Inverloch has greater associations with Bass than with Gippsland South. The EBC agrees that these areas should be restored to Morwell and Bass respectively, with Nyora and Loch being returned to Gippsland South.
- Further changes are needed to ensure that the boundaries comply with the numbers requirements of the Act, both now and into the future. It is impossible to include both Moe and the hinterland townships in Morwell district, as enrolments would be well above the 10 per cent tolerance. However, restoring the whole of Moe and Newborough to Narracan would leave Morwell well below average and Narracan above average. The Bunyip/Tynong area would have to be transferred from Narracan to Bass – but this would result in Bass’s enrolment growing far beyond the 10 per cent tolerance. The EBC has decided on the compromise solution of returning Moe to Narracan, but keeping Newborough in Morwell. This means that no more alterations are needed to the boundaries of Morwell, Gippsland South and Narracan to keep their enrolments within tolerance. Bass is projected to increase to 12.34 per cent above the average, but the EBC considers that in this case community of interest outweighs projected enrolments. The EBC recognises that this is not ideal on community of interest grounds, because Moe and Newborough are closely associated, but Narracan Creek does form a clear natural divide between them.