Stoush over Macquarie redistribution

LABOR has accused the Liberal Party of trying to turn the Macquarie federal electorate into a safe Liberal seat.

Which way for Macquarie? Labor spokeswoman for Macquarie Susan Templeman fears a proposed redrawing of the electorate's boundaries could leave her party severely disadvantaged.

Which way for Macquarie? Labor spokeswoman for Macquarie Susan Templeman fears a proposed redrawing of the electorate's boundaries could leave her party severely disadvantaged.

Macquarie largely comprises Hawkesbury and the Blue Mountains, but its boundaries could change after NSW’s federal electorates are redistributed later this year.

The seat is held by the Liberals’ Louise Markus, who defeated the Labor candidate, Susan Templeman, with 54.48 per cent of the two-party preferred vote at the 2013 election.

The Australian Electoral Commission will announce the new electoral map after studying submissions by political parties, members of the public and other interested bodies.

‘‘What concerns me is the Liberals want to splice the Blue Mountains three ways; I think they’re trying to make Macquarie a safer seat for themselves,’’ Ms Templeman, who is now Labor spokeswoman for Macquarie, said.

‘‘The Mountains has a strong community of interests and although there are differences between Hawkesbury and the Mountains, there are more similarities.’’

The Liberals’ submission recommends detaching the lower Blue Mountains, east of Springwood, from Macquarie and joining it to Lindsay, held by the Liberals’ Fiona Scott.

It also suggests ceding the Mountains west of Faulconbridge to the safe Nationals seat of Calare.

‘‘As the localities of Springwood and Winmalee have more affiliation with the Hawkesbury than they do with the lower Mountains and Penrith, we propose that these localities remain within Macquarie,’’ the Liberal Party submission states.

In 2013, Mrs Markus polled a majority of votes in the lower Mountains and averaged more than 60 per cent of the two-party preferred vote in the Hawkesbury, while the middle and upper Mountains mainly voted for Ms Templeman.

‘‘The Hawkesbury would find itself in a safe Liberal seat,’’ Ms Templeman said of the proposed changes.

‘‘It’s just an invitation to be taken for granted again by the Liberals.’’

She said by contrast, the Labor Party’s submission only suggested cosmetic changes: removing Londonderry and Agnes Banks from Lindsay and including them in Macquarie.

The Gazette contacted Ms Markus’ office for comment, but was referred to the Liberal Party’s state director.

A NSW Liberal Party spokeswoman said electoral changes had to be made, given that NSW was to lose one seat in the redistribution.

‘‘It is a statewide redistribution in which the requirements of the Electoral Act must be met in every seat,’’ she said.

‘‘Our detailed reasoning is set out in our public submission.’’

The Australian Electoral Commission is accepting comments and suggestions about the redistribution until 6pm, June 5.

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