By BIANNCA CHALLANS
Electorates are based on splitting the population of Australia or South Australia into equal-sized populations, giving everyone’s vote the same amount of power – which is why your electorate changes between state and federal elections, and might even change year-to-year.
This also explains why some electorates are so big – for example, Giles in the state election, and Barker in the federal election.
In the federal sphere, Barker and Grey are two South Australian electorates that have to cover the same population as an electorate in the heart of Sydney or Melbourne.
As the population is sparse in our State outside of Adelaide, these are quite big electorates.
Barker takes up most of south-eastern South Australia, including the whole of the Riverland down to Murray Bridge and up through to the Victorian Border, and down through Naracoorte to Mount Gambier.
In the state election, electorate boundaries are split differently.
The electorate of Barker consists of four state electorates: Mount Gambier is its own electorate, whereas surrounding districts fall into MacKillop, Murray-mouth and Murray Bridge become Hammond, and the Riverland falls into Chaffey.
All four electorates are Liberal safe seats and each individual electorate has a solid Liberal seat history.
Chaffey’s needs, issues, and successes are quite different from those in Mount Gambier, and this election is providing them with the attention they need.
In Mount Gambier, fracking is a local concern which has severe environmental impact, but in the Riverland fruit production, exporting and looking after the Murray River are more important.
Chaffey covers from Sedan to Peebinga, and all of the Riverland to the borders of New South Wales and Victoria, some 24,000 sq km, and is by no means a ‘small electorate’ despite being only a quarter of Federal Barker.
Candidates in Chaffey are:
|Australian Greens||Phil Pointer|
|Australian Labor Party||Sim Singh-Malhi|
|NXT: SA Best||Michelle Campbell|
Labor might have only held Chaffey for two terms since 1938, but that isn’t stopping candidate Sim Singh-Malhi from connecting with the public.
Singh-Malhi went to school in the area and is playing on Federal MP Tony Pasin’s distance and seeming neglect of the Riverland.
Amanda Rodden, who lives in Loxton, has two daughters enrolled in local schools and says Singh-Malhi’s dedication towards education might be the only way her girls can finish school.
“He knocked on the front door and told me how he was pushing to have laptops given to all the students,” Rodden says, “and I can’t afford to buy both my girls a thousand-dollar laptop each.”
Supporting regional South Australians is also a priority in Liberal policy, as can be seen from consistent Liberal victories in Chaffey, Hammond, MacKillop and Mount Gambier.
“As far as Labor is concerned,” says Renmark resident Pam Rule, “South Australia finishes at Gepps Cross, and that’s how it’s been for the past 10 years.
“Liberals have always been more active in our area, and we have more trust in them.”
That trust has kept Tim Whetstone in his seat for eight years when his fellow Liberal seats in Hammond, MacKillop and Mount Gambier have all morphed into independent seats for one reason or another.
But right-wing aims like the support of imports/exports, production and apprenticeships have kept MPs in these seats in power.
That’s why, despite the assumed Liberal safety, Conservatives candidate Trevor Scott has more potential than might seem at first glance.
Conservatives right-wing policies and support of regional South Australia is only heightened by Trevor Scott’s relative fame and popularity as the beloved local radio station host.
Sitting Member for Chaffey, Liberal Tim Whetstone, has held the seat since 2010 when he took over from Nationals MP Karlene Maywald.
He plans ongoing support for fruit fly eradication that does not compromise farming and upgrading current infrastructure to support more population in the future.
Mr Whetstone might find himself in his usual office in April, but he has serious competition from the ALP’s Sim Singh-Malhi and Conservatives’ Trevor Scott.