Part II: The proposed boundaries - Eastern Victoria
- The Eastern Victoria region stretches from Mallacoota to the eastern edge of metropolitan Melbourne. The region falls into three main areas: Gippsland, the Mornington Peninsula, and the peri-urban areas to the east of Melbourne. There is comparatively little room for movement, as the region is hemmed in between the Great Dividing Range to the north and the Tasman Sea and Bass Strait to the south.
- All submissions proposed either no changes or minimal changes to Gippsland East district. The district is enormous in area (27,488 square kilometres) but reflects a solid community of interest, and has mostly clear boundaries. Enrolment is currently very close to average at +1.28 per cent and is not expected to shift much. Therefore the EBC proposed to leave Gippsland East district unchanged.
- Gippsland South district is below average at – 4.3 per cent, and is expected to decline slightly. Submissions put forward relatively minor adjustments to the current boundaries. The Nationals and most of the private submissions suggested transferring Inverloch from Bass to Gippsland South, and the EBC took up this proposal, partly to reduce numbers in Bass and partly because of Inverloch’s links with Gippsland. The proposed district also took in rural areas in the south and north-east of Morwell district (Boolarra, Yinnar and Cowwarr). The EBC proposed to change Nyora and Loch from Gippsland South to Bass, as these localities appeared to be closer to Bass. The proposed district’s enrolment was 7.73 per cent above average, and it was expected to decline slightly to +4.82 per cent.
- Morwell, based on the Latrobe Valley towns, is quite different in character from the mainly rural Gippsland East and South. Its enrolment is 5.9 per cent below the State average, and it is projected to fall to 7.36 per cent below. Most submissions favoured only minor changes to the district. The EBC, however, considered that this redivision was an opportune time for a desirable change. It is an accident of history that Morwell district has never included all of the Latrobe Valley centres. These centres are grouped in the City of Latrobe, they are physically close to each other, and they have a similar industrial base and socio-economic profile. Narracan district is growing, and can afford to lose some electors. The EBC therefore proposed to transfer Moe and Newborough from Narracan to Morwell, while shedding Morwell’s outlying rural areas, north of the La Trobe River and in the foothills of the Strzelecki Ranges to the south. Suggested alternative names for the district were Latrobe Valley and Gippsland Central. Enrolment for the proposed district was 8.97 per cent above the average, but the deviation was projected to decrease to +7.35 per cent.
- Narracan’s enrolment is 5.59 per cent above the average, and it is growing as a result of development along the Princes Highway to Warragul21. Most submissions recommended marginal changes to the boundaries. The removal of Moe and Newborough made Narracan more homogeneous, but created a need to gain electors. The EBC proposed that Narracan take in much of the northern part of Morwell district (Yallourn North, Glengarry and Toongabbie), with the new boundary following that of the City of Latrobe. Narracan also gained Bunyip, Garfield and Nar Nar Goon from Bass. This area has strong transport connections with Narracan along the Princes Highway and Gippsland railway, and the transfer would serve to reduce numbers in Bass. The proposed district was very close to the average at -1.88 per cent, and it was not expected to change significantly.
- Bass is a peri-urban district, comprising a mixture of expanding outer suburbs, coastal development, and rural areas. In terms of electors it is the fifth largest district in the State, with enrolment 27.53 per cent above the average, and it is projected to explode to +49.81 per cent by 2018. The EBC needed to consider how to reduce Bass so that its numbers would not exceed the 10 per cent threshold, while the boundaries also fitted community of interest. A key area is the growth corridor from Beaconsfield to Pakenham. Grouping of the whole growth corridor in one district would ensure that the district would grow beyond the 10 per cent tolerance, as, for instance, the Greens’ proposed Pakenham district did (reaching +23.54 per cent by 2018). The only solution was to split the growth corridor, and the issue was where to do so. The current boundary between Bass and Gembrook follows the Gippsland railway, Toomuc Creek and a transmission line, putting most of Pakenham in Bass and most of explosively growing Officer in Gembrook. The ALP proposed to give the whole of Pakenham to Gembrook and to give Beaconsfield and Officer to Bass, but this would have created a rather contorted boundary. The EBC’s approach was to run the boundary east along the Princes Freeway, then north up Cardinia Road, then east again along the Princes Highway. Under this boundary, the Officer growth area was united in Gembrook. Pakenham was still divided, but no more than at present, and the boundary was clear. Elsewhere, the EBC proposed to give part of Berwick to Narre Warren South, the Bunyip-Nar Nar Goon area to Narracan, and Inverloch to Gippsland South, while taking in Nyora and Loch from Gippsland South and part of Clyde from Hastings to round out the boundary. The resultant district had more of a coastal focus than the current district. Its enrolment was 8.81 per cent below the average, and it was expected to grow to 7.2 per cent above – within the 10 per cent tolerance.
- Gembrook district is associated with Bass in the south-eastern growth corridor. Its enrolment is currently 7.32 per cent above the average, and it is projected to rise to 19.63 per cent above. Nearly all the submissions agreed that major changes are necessary. Gembrook is an extensive district, extending north-east into the Upper Yarra Valley, which does not have good transport links with the rest of the district and has little in common with it. The EBC proposed that the Upper Yarra Valley be transferred to the new Eildon district, to strengthen Gembrook’s community of interest and help with numbers. As well, the EBC proposed transferring the southern part of Yarra Ranges Shire, plus Clematis, to Monbulk district, so that the Gembrook district was confined to two municipalities (Cardinia and Casey). In the south the boundary was realigned to include all of Officer and divide Pakenham in a different way. The district was expanded slightly to the west to follow the strong Princes Freeway boundary and to include most of Berwick in the district. The proposed district was 7.94 per cent below average, and was projected to grow to 12.41 per cent above average, largely because it included the Officer growth corridor.
- Monbulk district covers the Dandenong Ranges, at the interface between the eastern suburbs of Melbourne and the semi-rural country to the east. Unlike the districts to its south, it is not growing rapidly; its enrolment is currently 8.35 per cent below average and is predicted to fall to 13.54 per cent below. Thus, the challenge for Monbulk was to gain sufficient electors. As recommended by several submissions, the proposed district expanded to the south to include the southern part of Yarra Ranges Shire (Belgrave, Belgrave Heights, Belgrave South, Lysterfield), plus Clematis. This change strengthened the district’s character as a Dandenongs electorate. In the west, the district lost parts of Boronia, Bayswater North, Kilsyth South and The Basin to Bayswater district, but was compensated by gaining parts of Montrose, Kilsyth and Mooroolbark in the north. The district still included portions of the eastern suburbs, but the western boundary follows the Ranges interface better than before. Enrolment for the proposed district was 4.44 per cent above average, and it was expected to decline to 3.41 per cent below average.
- Evelyn, based on Lilydale, has a clear Yarra River boundary on its north-western, northern and eastern sides. Its enrolment is close to the average at -2.44 per cent, and is not expected to change significantly. Several submissions, including those by the Liberal Party and ALP, proposed expanding the district into the Upper Yarra Valley. Such a change would be defensible on community of interest grounds, but was not necessary. The EBC proposed that Evelyn gain a small part of Mooroolbark from Kilsyth district, and lose nearly all of Wonga Park in the west, with the new boundary broadly coinciding with the Manningham-Yarra Ranges municipal boundary. This meant that Yarra Ranges Shire would be effectively the only municipality in the district. The proposed district’s enrolment was 6.27 per cent below average, and is projected to rise slightly.
- Mornington Peninsula is relatively self-contained. Its three districts have differing growth patterns, enabling an exchange of areas to bring the districts back to equality.
- Nepean district covers the southern half of the Peninsula. The district’s enrolment is 5.53 per cent below average, and is drifting downwards to breach the 10 per cent threshold by 2018. Most submissions dealt with this by transferring the Balnarring and Somers areas from Hastings to Nepean. The EBC agreed with this course, as Balnarring and Somers have close links with the coastal areas on the eastern side of the peninsula. Enrolment for the proposed district was 2.24 per cent above average, and was projected to fall to -3.48 per cent by 2018.
- Mornington district’s enrolment is almost exactly on average at -0.66 per cent, and is projected to decline to -4.1 per cent. Most submissions suggested minor changes to the boundaries. The EBC proposed to take from Hastings a semi-rural area between Derril and Coolart Roads, covering parts of Moorooduc and Tuerong. The proposed boundary was stronger than the current one, and increased Mornington’s enrolment to 1.23 per cent above average (projected to fall to 2.41 per cent below average).
- Hastings district needs to lose electors, since its enrolment is 11.51 per cent above average and is projected to rise to 14.92 per cent above, largely because the district includes growth areas south of Cranbourne. Submissions put forward a variety of boundaries for Hastings. The EBC proposed changes to the edges of the district (giving Balnarring and Somers to Nepean, parts of Moorooduc and Tuerong to Mornington, parts of Cranbourne South, Botanic Ridge, Junction Village and Devon Meadows to Cranbourne, and part of Clyde to Bass), while maintaining the essential nature of the district as one centred on the industrial town of Hastings and Western Port. The only expansion was to the north, to include all of Langwarrin in the district. The proposed district’s enrolment was 8.51 per cent above average, but was projected to decline minimally to +7.68 per cent.
See “Meet the countryside commuters”, in The Age, 27 August 2013, pp. 16-17.×