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Thursday, 29 October 2009
Page: 7684

Senator IAN MACDONALD (6:01 PM) —I will speak about this document on electoral reform. Again, I raise the stupidity of our electoral system and the recent redistribution. In North Queensland we have a situation whereby the electorate of Dawson is based upon the city of Mackay. It takes in the rural community towns of Ayr and Home Hill, where I live. It has gradually crept to the north and now encompasses the southern suburbs of Townsville, around Stuart and some parts of Oonoonba. The stupidity of the redistribution, about which there was an enormous number of complaints to the Electoral Commission of Queensland, is that the electorate now continues right into Townsville proper—into the suburb of Annandale where, coincidentally enough, the current federal member for Herbert actually lives. It is a suburb right slap bang in the electorate of Herbert, and it is clearly part of Townsville.

The Electoral Commission, in its wisdom, has now included that suburb of Townsville in an electorate which is based on Mackay, some 400 kilometres away. The electorate of Mackay is a seat broadly based on the sugar industry in Mackay and coming up into the Burdekin district. Mackay, of course, is a very diverse community; it has a lot of mining, beef cattle and tourism, and the Burdekin does have some small crop farming and beef cattle, as well as sugar and the sugar mills. But the electorate now goes into what one might say is one of the leafy suburbs of Townsville: the suburb of Annandale. It has about 7,000 people and it is where the current member for Herbert actually lives. This is stupidity at its highest, and I cannot believe that the Electoral Commission has confirmed the draft boundaries in the way that it has.