Independent MP Kylea Tink’s electorate of North Sydney to be abolished under AEC proposal

<span>Kylea Tink, the MP for North Sydney. Her electorate would be abolished under new electoral boundaries proposed by the Australian Electoral Commission on Friday.</span><span>Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian</span>
Kylea Tink, the MP for North Sydney. Her electorate would be abolished under new electoral boundaries proposed by the Australian Electoral Commission on Friday.Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

The Australian Electoral Commission has recommended one of the country’s oldest electorates, North Sydney, be abolished in a boundary shake-up that could have far-reaching consequences for the major parties.

After reviewing population changes and submissions, the AEC has released its draft proposal for New South Wales’s new electoral boundaries, recommending the federation seat currently held by independent MP Kylea Tink be abolished.

If adopted, that would mean almost 13% of currently enrolled NSW voters would be moved into new electorates under the boundary changes, which have the potential to shake up the northern Sydney electorates held by major party MPs.

In a statement, Tink said she was “disappointed” with the draft decision, adding that she was committed to the independent movement.

“I will continue to stand up for and fight for the people of North Sydney on the issues that matter most to our community,” she said.

“This includes continuing to hold both major parties to account for their lack of ambition and action on climate change. North Sydney is also desperate for measures to tackle housing affordability and the cost of living, address intergenerational inequality, protect the environment for future generations, and promote a smart, future-focused economy.

“…This is a draft proposal and there is now a further process to go through. I will have more to say on this in due course.”

Current North Sydney electors would find themselves in either the divisions of Bennelong (Labor), Bradfield (Liberal) or Warringah (independent). Under the proposal, Labor MP Jerome Laxlale could face an uphill battle to retain his seat of Bennelong, with much of his seat set to take in the current North Sydney boundaries. Under the changes, election analyst Ben Raue predicts a nominal loss of Bennelong for Labor, with the two-party-preferred margin moving to 50.1% to the Liberal party, based on the last election results.

North Sydney was considered a blue ribbon Liberal seat before it was won by Tink at the 2022 election, but has been difficult territory for Labor to gain a foothold in. Liberal MP Paul Fletcher’s seat of Bradfield, which was considered one of the electorates under threat by the redistribution, does not appear to have had too much of a boundary change under the proposal.

Fletcher’s greatest threat is independent candidate Nicolette Boelle, who is hoping to recreate the success of the 2022 teal wave in Fletcher’s piece of northern Sydney.

The AEC has also proposed to change the boundaries of the regional electorates of Hume, held by the Liberal shadow treasurer, Angus Taylor; Riverina, held by the former deputy prime minister and National party MP Michael McCormack; and the electorate of Eden-Monaro, the seat of the local government minister, Kristy McBain.

The AEC has proposed moving voters from the Snowy and Yass Valley councils, currently in Eden-Monaro, into Riverina. Electors in the Goulburn and Mulwaree councils would move from Hume into Eden-Monaro.

Eden-Monaro has been held by Labor since 2016, but only on slim margins, and had been considered a bellwether seat, most often swinging behind candidates from the party that would go on to form government. That was until Mike Kelly won it for Labor in 2016 and again in 2019, followed by McBain’s byelection win in 2020 while the Coalition was in power.

The AEC has also recommended the electorate of Cook, most famously held by former prime minister Scott Morrison, be jointly named for former prime minister Sir Joesph Cook as well as Captain James Cook. Cook was the only former deceased prime minister who did not have an electorate named in his honour. The AEC recommends taking the existing seat of Cook named for the explorer and co-naming it for the former prime minister.

The AEC reviews Australia’s electoral boundaries regularly to ensure projected population changes are taken into account. Population shifts mean Victoria and NSW are both expected to lose an electorate, with Western Australia to gain one. The AEC released its draft determination for Victoria and WA earlier in the month, fuelling short-lived speculation that the former treasurer Josh Frydenberg was considering another tilt at federal politics.

In its submission to the AEC, Labor had recommended the Liberal seat of Hughes be abolished and its electors redistributed, while the Liberal party suggested the western Sydney seats of Blaxland and Watson – both held by Labor MPs – be merged into a single seat and that the north shore seat of Warringah, held by independent MP Zali Steggall, be abolished, with a new seat created instead near the western Sydney airport.

The AEC will open up the draft proposal for submissions and comment and will make its final determination in October.