Sun. Jun 16th, 2024

As the state election nears, residents in the Liverpool Plains and Walcha areas will be starting to realise they’re not in the same electorate anymore.

Two significant changes in the redistribution conducted after the last election sees the Walcha local government area that was in the Tamworth electorate move to Northern Tablelands, and the Liverpool Plains Shire local government area moved from Upper Hunter to Tamworth.

There has been no changes in the north of the New England, with everything north of Deepwater lumped in with Lismore. To the west, no changes either, with Moree Plains in the Northern Tablelands electorate, but Narrabri and surrounds are carved out and remain part of the enormous Barwon electorate that stretches all the way to the Northern Territory border.

The Northern Tablelands is now a banana shaped electorate that wraps around Tamworth.

New boundaries of the Northern Tablelands electorate (NSW Electoral Commission)

The Tamworth electorate has changed from a strip shape to a blob, and the balance shifts from the east of Tamworth to the west.

New boundaries of the Tamworth electorate (NSW Electoral Commission)

It is worth noting that these redistributions were done in 2021, before the bulk of the internal migration triggered by the prolonged pandemic and changing work practices bolstered the populations of many New England communities. At the time of the redistribution decision, the projected enrolment for Northern Tablelands was 58,057 by the time of the next election; actual enrolment today is 58,203. In Tamworth, the projected enrolment for the next election was 60,661; actual enrolment today is 60,897.

The Walcha LGA has already started making the transition, with Adam Marshall bring his usual enthusiasm to his new voters, attending events such as the public meeting on the Winterbourne Wind project. Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson has also been seen out and about in the Liverpool Plains, including speaking at the recent opening of the Quirindi Silo Art project. Both have been busy posting social media updates as they visit their new voters.

Out and about: Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson at the Quirindi Silo Art project (left), and Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall with Walcha Mayor Eric Noakes (right) at the soon-to-be-replaced Boxley Bridge

Adam Marshall is not expected to be seriously challenged in the Northern Tablelands, with the only declared candidate being one term member of Uralla Council Natasha Ledger, standing as an independent. Ms Ledger got 2,708 votes when she ran against Barnaby Joyce in New England in last year’s federal election. The Greens and Labor are expected to field a candidate but have not named them yet.

The race in Tamworth will be a little more contested for the current Minister for Lands and Water, Hospitality and Racing. Tamworth Councillor Mark Rodda will be standing as an independent, while popular Gunnedah Councillor Kate McGrath will be the Labor candidate. The Greens have nominated health worker Ryan Brooke as their candidate, who has a compelling story of his own experience of our health system as a cancer patient that has motivated him to run. Further minor party candidates are also expected to nominate. While Tamworth will be a more interesting race than the lay down misère of Northern Tablelands, it is expected Anderson will be returned.

The NSW Election will be held on Saturday March 25, 2023. The confirmed list of candidates will be announced on March 9.

Voters needing to update their registration can do so via the Australian Electoral Commission.

Postal vote applications are also open now. Note: the iVote system will not be available this year for technical reasons.

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