Surf Coast councillors urge rethink on federal redistribution

June 18, 2021 BY

The existing boundary of the federal electorate of Corangamite (in red) and the proposed boundary of the new electorate of Tucker (in blue).

THREE Surf Coast Shire councillors are urging changes to the proposed new federal electorate boundaries in the Geelong region, with two of them calling on the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) to keep Torquay and Geelong aligned with towns as far away as Lorne.

The AEC’s Redistribution Committee for Victoria suggests renaming Corangamite to Tucker in honour of Margaret (Lilardia) Elizabeth Tucker, a Yorta Yorta woman, for her significant work to create a more equal and understanding society for Aboriginal people.

The proposed Division of Tucker would also be much smaller, to account for population growth and bring the electorate closer to the redistribution quota of 109,021 voters.

Corangamite (presently held by Labor’s Libby Coker) extends as far south as Apollo Bay, to the west beyond Winchelsea and to the north as far as Meredith, but Tucker would only stretch as far as Bannockburn to the north, Wurdiboluc to the south-west and Bells Beach to the south.

This would move all the other towns in the Surf Coast Shire – including Anglesea, Aireys Inlet, Lorne and Winchelsea – into the neighbouring electorate of Wannon (presently held by Liberal MP Dan Tehan) and split the shire across two federal electorates.

A hearing for objections about the proposed redistribution was held online last week.

In her submission, Surf Coast mayor Libby Stapleton said there would be social and economic impacts if certain communities were removed from Tucker.

“As a long-term resident of Aireys Inlet in the Surf Coast Shire, I am deeply concerned that the communities of Lorne, Aireys Inlet and Anglesea are to be annexed from the hub of the Surf Coast Shire,” Cr Stapleton said.

“The economic drivers, and social/environmental aspirations of these communities are significantly more aligned to the centres of Torquay and Geelong than they are to the regional centres stretching west to the South Australian border.

“If we were to sit on the western edge of the Wannon Division as proposed, there would be a significant risk that local residents of Aireys Inlet, Anglesea and Lorne could lose connection to important health, education and other social services currently provided to them via Torquay and Geelong.”

Lorne Ward councillor Gary Allen said the communities of Lorne, Aireys Inlet and Anglesea were disparate in some ways but shared “a common passion for our region, our heritage and our future”.

“It is clear to me that the voters along the Surf Coast will be better represented by the politicians of the proposed Tucker electorate than those of Wannon,” Cr Allen said.

“As part of the Surf Coast Shire since 1994 we have contributed to the shared vision for the area.

“We have survived bushfires together, we play sport together and we share cultural and artistic pursuits together. There is no greater power to meet the future than the power of a community that understands what it cares about.”

Winchelsea Ward councillor Adrian Schonfelder’s submission made no comment about the proposed boundaries, but expressed a preference for the electorate to retain an Aboriginal name.

“If Corangamite requires renaming, then Barrabool is an appropriate alternative given the Barrabool tribe existed within the current boundary of Corangamite and the new proposed boundary,” he said.

The AEC will announce the final boundaries later this year.

To read the Redistribution Committee’s report or download maps of Tucker, head to the AEC’s website.