THE state electorate of Murrumbidgee, which has stood for more than 150 years, is no more after the NSW Electoral Commission approved a plan to radically redraw seat boundaries in the region yesterday.
The change in boundaries leaves a cloud over the future of member for Murrumbidgee Adrian Piccoli, who has been in parliament since 1999.
First proclaimed in 1856, the Murrumbidgee electorate has been erased from the map to make way for the new electorate of Newtown in Sydney's inner-west, with its constituents split between the two new divisions of Murray and Cootamundra.
Murray will cover an area spanning from Leeton and Griffith in the east all the way to the South Australian border and also includes Hillston, Deniliquin, Balranald and Wentworth.
Cootamundra is largely an amalgamation of the old Burrinjuck electorate, which has been abolished, and the eastern half of Murrumbidgee, encompassing Narrandera, Junee, Cootamundra, Temora, Gundagai, West Wyalong, Young and Cowra.
Officially released yesterday, the boundary changes largely follow the draft maps released by the commission in June and will come into effect at the 2015 state election.
Griffith mayor John Dal Broi came out swinging against the changes yesterday, claiming the commission had ignored his submission into their draft proposal during the process.
“As far as the people of Murrumbidgee are concerned we've lost our identity,” he said. “Murrumbidgee has been an icon now since the 1800s and now we've taken that away.”
Cr Dal Broi also railed against the
decision to create an electorate
spanning such a vast area – with the drive between Leeton and Wentworth taking more than five hours – criticising it as too large to be represented effectively by one member.
“Ourselves and Leeton are at the eastern end of the electorate and it would stand logically that the local member would come from Griffith or Leeton,” he said.
“It makes it extremely difficult because he's got to drive some five hours to service the far western areas of the electorate –obviously they didn't take any notice of that.”
Mr Piccoli faces the unenviable prospect of having to challenge either member for Burrinjuck Katrina Hodgkinson for preselection in Cootamundra, or the member for the now-abolished Murray-Darling, John Williams, for endorsement in Murray.