Elec­torate ex­pan­sion

Highton, Bel­mont may fall within new Co­rio bound­aries

Geelong Advertiser - - NEWS - ALEX SINNOTT

HIGHTON has been part of the Co­rangamite elec­torate for as long as Aus­tralia has ex­isted as a federated na­tion.

But times are chang­ing on the south side of the Bar­won River, with the Co­rio elec­torate likely to cover the sub­urb and neigh­bour­ing Bel­mont for the first time in more than a cen­tury.

The Aus­tralian Elec­toral Com­mis­sion ( AEC) re­leased draft bound­aries for Vic­to­ria’s fed­eral elec­torates ear­lier this month, push­ing Co­rio’s bound­ary south and po­ten­tially abol­ish­ing Co­rangamite, re­plac­ing it with the con­tentious Cox elec­torate.

Co­rio MP Richard Mar­les said it was highly likely his elec­torate would in­clude Highton and Bel­mont at the next fed­eral elec­tion, de­spite a push by Co­rangamite MP Sarah Hen­der­son to re­tain her elec­torate’s name and ap­prox­i­mate bound­ary.

“We have an in­de­pen­dent um­pire in the AEC and I ac­cept the um­pire’s de­ci­sion,” the La­bor front­bencher said. “I know the Highton com­mu­nity well but I wanted to get a head start and meet (with vot­ers) be- cause this is likely to be part of Co­rio at the next fed­eral elec­tion, which, it should be re­mem­bered, could be as early as Au­gust. The Turn­bull Gov­ern­ment’s lack of in­ter­est in Gee­long is clear whether you’re on the north or south side of the Bar­won River.”

Highton has been at the cen­tre of Ms Hen­der­son’s two suc­cess­ful cam­paigns for Co­rangamite, with for­mer PM Tony Ab­bott cam­paign­ing along­side her there dur­ing the 2013 race and Mal­colm Turn­bull at­tend­ing a CFA rally in the sub­urb days be­fore the 2016 fed­eral elec­tion.

Ms Hen­der­son said the Co­rio MP’s “ar­ro­gance was on full dis­play” by cam­paign­ing in the Co­rangamite elec­torate.

“The fi­nal elec­toral bound­aries may vary sub­stan­tially from what has been pro­posed in the draft doc­u­ment,” the Lib­eral MP said. “The AEC is call­ing for com­mu­nity ob­jec­tions which can be lodged up un­til 4 May. A fi­nal de­ci­sion won’t be made un­til mid-2018. This is an in­de­pen­dent process and Mr Mar­les looks fool­ish to be pre­sum­ing he knows bet­ter than the AEC. If Mr Mar­les jumped the gun like this in a race at Landy Field, he’d be dis­qual­i­fied.”

Pic­ture: MARK WIL­SON

BOUND­ARY CHANGES: Fed­eral MP for Co­rio Richard Mar­les out­side Highton with Deakin Univer­sity La­bor Club stu­dents Te­gan Whit­ten and Kye Cole at the week­end.

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